Monday, September 01, 2008

A Day At The Fair

I love the fair. Everyone comes out of the woodwork and struts their stuff down the midway. There's mullets a plenty and many other oddities. It's also a place where I consider what life would be like on the county fair circuit. I always wonder what it would be like to spend the summer selling french fries and living in a small camper. I also wonder what it's like to work for the company that runs the rides. What are their wages? What are their processes? Do people get vacation or sick time? Is there a carny union? What is the supervisor responsible for? Is there a sense of community? Or is it more like prison labor? Do they stay at motels or do they have RV's too? Do the food vendors look down their noses at the ride operators?

In fact, I was so wrapped up in this train of thought as we waited in line so the girls could go down the giant slide that I wasn't really paying attention when it was their turn. There was this wonderful old lady in a cowboy hat (you can see her picture in the video below) who was handing out the pieces of burlap that you sit on when you ride the slide. I told Riley to go ahead and take one, but the old lady turned to me and said, "You carry them..."

She said this with so much authority that I took two pieces of burlap from her and followed my children up the narrow, open, steel staircase. It wasn't until I was about half way up that I realized that there was very little between me and the ground but air and steps made of foil. Panic rose to my ears as I had to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. How are my kids doing this with no fear? By the time I reached the top my chest was clenched with fear. The guy at the top gave me a friendly smile and said, "You OK, Mom?"

I lied and said I was. He spread the burlap sacks side by side. I sat on one with Lucy and Riley sat next to me, holding my hand. We slid down that slide and it was nice enough. The girls wanted to do it again. Over my dead body, was what I thought, but once they saw the line the decided it was time to move on to the mini coaster.


  1. I hear from Spooky that the Burlap Bag Lady was not quite as colourful as you might have painted her, but then again, Country Fayres may not be her cuppa.

    I'm sorry I missed it. If we'd gone with our ORIGINAL moving date of 6/21, I'd o' bean there for it, dammit!! I like Country Fayres mostly for the reasons you mentioned-- that sort of "what if?" wonderment that comes o'er you at what it must be like to live these people's lives: are they fun or hellish? But I also like going to Fayres to realize how lucky and sophisticated I truely am (which is saying something)

  2. Love the blog!

    I hate that slide, I can never quite figure out how to get on the burlap all the way and it always ends up at the bottom way before I get there with, what only can be described as, rug burns on my back.

  3. Cap'n: Some day, we'll have to do an anthropolgical study of County Fair Cultures.

    WOR: Welcome and thanks for stopping by. I will return the favor. Yeah, those burlap things are tres awkward.

    Betty: You tell 'im, honey!

  4. Great post!
    For the past two years there has been no carnival where I live thanks to gallons upon gallons of rain.
    I'm not sure that's too bad a thing though. I kinda just love the candyfloss! :)

  5. Carnies creep me the hell out.

    And those rides...I used to love 'em when I was little but they're deathtraps. If those carnies have a choice between doing a safety inspection and smoking another cigarette, you know they're always gonna choose option B.