Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Curds Are Your Curds

The smell of equine and live pork products swirl in the air (some people love napalm in the morning, I’ll take bacon) with culinary delights like pronto pups and fresh cut French Fries as you cross the Como Avenue Bridge. Gone are the days of getting up at six a.m. to “camp” out in the makeshift grass parking lot to eat some freshly made sticky rolls that my mom made to sedate her three hungry, tired, and crabby kids in the back of a powder blue mini van. Back then we’d stay at the fair until every tractor was sat in, every animal from rabbits to horses were judged, and every morsel of food was sampled despite the waistlines in our jean shorts groaning at the prospect of another funnel cake or Gopher Dairy club malt.

(Blogger doesn't seem to want to let pictures come up grrrrrr, click on the highlighted links for the pics)

Hmmmm... what type of bait should we go with here?

Even Homer likes to blog!

Of course the parents needed an incentive to keep the attention of three kids for 12 hour day of looking at farm machinery, 4-H art projects, and whatever polka band was pumping out accordion music at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell. The midway still has many of the same games of chance, rides, and flashing lights as it did when I was a gangly middle school student who tried to be invisible. TOSS A SOFTBALL INTO THE MILKJUG ONLY ONE TICKET WIN THE BIGGEST PRIZE IN ALL OF THE MIDWAY, the barker cried as I’d clutch my sheet of midway tickets, reward for being personable and not shoving my brother into the biggest pig pen (this year the pig’s name was Corn Dog and he weighed 1040 lbs.).

A smiling baby with her grandpa

Wyatt decides too late that whipping around in a metal chair isn't fun

Granted as I strolled down the midway on Friday with my brother-in-law and a friend it didn’t have the same aura of excitement, it felt more like Vegas after you’ve been there several times or on the morning of your cab ride to McCarran airport. The games were still a short burst of excitement; trying to roll a golf ball into different colored holes to win that multicolored frog after making the plastic Seattle Slew beat the remainder of the field. I tossed ping-pong balls into glass dishes that I paid three dollars for, despite the Curious George figurine prize having no real monetary value.

After you're done staring the chick's ass, revel in the $1 (used to be a quarter not too long ago) All-You-Can-Drink milk stand!

The line to the cheese curd booth

Why? Because it was fun.

There’s no goal to get to the midway when I shuttle by bus down Snelling Ave. from Brookdale any longer. I finally sit back and enjoy the sights and smells of the Great Minnesota Get Together. It’s the little things like rushing to the education building to snag the St. Thomas deep purple bag before they run out or wearing a Gedney pickle hat to make Wyatt laugh. Savoring those delightful 1000% bad-for-you cheese curds that only the fair can make just right despite making them at the rate of a McDonald’s hamburger. Sitting down to listen to P.A. and Dubay discuss the latest Viking soap opera live from the KFAN booth. Watching a demonstration of the world’s greatest window cleaner in action, with a complete home cleansing system to be yours for only $49.95! It may seem repetitive to see the same vendors barking their promises of a perfect omelet, or to eat similar gastric delights on a stick year after year.

Ah.... my babies (that four dozen bucket of cookies was gone by the weekend)

But now that I’m a parent, I’m starting to see the fair thru the eyes of my parents, taking in the little things, enjoying time I get to spend with my wife, Wyatt, and Kyra. Sure in a few years the two spawns will be complaining about sore feet from walking, sore stomachs from trying to finish that last glass of milk from the all-you-can-drink booth, or begging to run down the midway to obtain stuffed animals that will end up in a closet within two days of midway worker announcing to the crowd that you were victorious in order to entice new suckers, er… customers.

With all the midway tickets spent; we passed by the dairy barn to get one more whiff of cow manure, walk past the gentleman with the “Tan-Line Inspector” t-shirt complete with petite Asian hottie in hand, and I’d snag one last malt for the bus ride back to car. I looked back to see a place I’ve been going to for over 25 years yet it seems brand new with each visit.

And I can’t wait to go back next year.

Thanks for dropping by, now if I’m forced to watch one more Sportcenter segment on “the Red Soxs woes” or how Manny Ramirez managed to play an entire inning with a hangnail, I will personally drive out to Bristol and drop kick the entire Baseball Tonight crew into the ocean.

The dude with the Tim Wakefield icon and name on Stars… you wondered why I raised the river in the O8 game despite knowing I was only going to get half the pot?

Now you know.

But I do not carry any ill will towards Big Papi and hope there's nothing seriously wrong. The man is an example of how a superior athlete should act.

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