Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Big Fresno Fair 2010

October 14, 2010

Last year, due to the downturn in our own personal economy, we didn't end up taking the kids to The Big Fresno Fair. Doug and I were both pretty bummed about it, since we had made it a bit of a tradition that we all looked forward to the previous three years. This year, we knew we'd be able to bring the tradition back, which was an especially big deal to me since I realized this would probably be the last year we'd be able to all go together. Next year, about this time, Brianna will probably be knee-deep in college life, making that transition to independence. Not that I think she'll ever out-grow the draw of the Midway all lit up at night, or the uniquely delicious fair fare, but realistically, scheduling a Family Fair Excursion is just going to get a lot trickier next year--especially if she ends up going to school in San Diego. (Excuse me for a minute while I get all nostalgic about my little girl getting all grown up.....sigh.)

Aaaaaand, I'm back.

As soon as school got out, I did the pick up rounds at all of the schools, and then headed home with the kids to pick up Doug. One year we surprised the kids and pulled them out of school early, without even telling them why, but although it was a great surprise, we found it wasn't as great an idea as we had hoped. Brianna happened to be wearing spectacularly unsuitable shoes for walking around the fair all afternoon and evening, and we ended up having to spring for a brand new pair of shoes at the fair. That's not a very cost-effective plan, in case you were wondering. We also discovered that year that although we intended on getting there early in the hopes that the kids could get some of their rides in before the crowds hit, the Midway doesn't open until after school gets out. Smart folks, those Fair Board people. They're not trying to have all the juvenile delinquents ditching school to come hang out on the Ferris Wheel.

So this year, shod in appropriate footwear and with pre-ordered discount tickets and ride wristbands in hand, we set out for a night of good family fun once the the school day was through.

Our first stop is usually the barn. Danielle and Nicholas are both animal lovers, and we took the time to see the cows, bunnies, sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens. Doug's favorites are the cows, with their big, sweet eyes. Bree likes them, too. I always look for the goats, especially the kids. Nicholas usually takes some time to bond with a rooster or two, and Danielle is fascinated by the rabbits. Of course, we all love the baby chicks.

After communing with the animals, the kids humored us while we made a tour of the exhibit buildings. We have some friends who had some exhibits on display--decorated Christmas trees, wreaths, baked goods, and such, so we wanted to see those. The kids were fascinated with the Gems and Minerals Exhibit, where they each came away with some shiny polished treasures, but we missed the the Art and Photography Exhibit this year. It's one of my favorite exhibits, but honestly,although the kids were pretty patient, by this time they were clearly ready to move on to the main attraction: The Midway!

All the kids like the rides, but Danielle is the real daredevil of the group--she'll go on anything. Upside down, round-and-round, super-fast and spinny--doesn't matter. She loves them all. Bree's pretty brave, but she has her limits, and Nicholas is somewhat hindered by his aversion to heights and tendency to get queasy if the ride swirls his tummy too much. He's pretty much a roller coaster-y kind of guy. Luckily, the fair offers plenty of options for all of them. Some kind soul who was leaving for the night even passed off her unused ride tickets to me, so even though Doug and I hadn't planned on spending the money to go on rides ourselves, I got to take a spin on the Ferris Wheel with Danielle.

As you can see, one of things I was really looking forward to at the fair this year was playing with the settings on my new camera to see what kinds of pictures I could get. I was really happy with the results!

No fair is complete without mention of the food, of course. We decided to give each of the kids $20 to spend on whatever food or souvenirs they wanted, as long as they made sure to eat something that constituted 'growing food'. Once their money was gone, it was gone, and they weren't allowed to ask for anymore. It worked great, with the kids even banding together so they could get a variety of tasty treats that tempted us all. Our collective selections included a teriyaki bowl, a bratwurst sandwich, a pulled pork sandwich, an Indian taco, a corn dog, sweet potato fries and roasted corn on the cob. After we let our growing food settle for awhile, we also shared cotton candy, a super-sized, super sour dill pickle, and this amazingly tasty treat--funnel cake! (Or as the kids used to say when they were little, Funny Cake.)
You all know that calories don't exist at the fairgrounds, right?

We all came home with sore feet, full bellies, big smiles, and good memories. Thank you Big Fresno Fair, for another great year.

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