POSTED ON OCTOBER 8, 2008:
Fair Secrets Revealed
Can you handle the truth?
No, I'm not going to tell you how to get mashed potatoes to stay on a stick. (Although, I am pretty sure you can't boil them on.) I know nothing about the spider woman, other than the fact that she's not half woman and half spider. And, prize-winning cattle are not in my area of expertise.
The secrets are about me. Personal secrets. I try to keep at least a hint of my personal life out of my columns to avoid being preachy and so you, my computer savvy readers, won't hack into my e-mail by accumulating information about me. I assure you, it would be boring.
This week I attended the Tulsa State Fair. The first was held in 1903. I went last year to see what it was all about but didn't soak it in quite like I did this year.
I have had little opportunity to display my choice for president this year, so I wore my button to the fair. To make matters worse, you guessed it, I am going with this year's version of John Kerry. The button also highlighted my choice to exclude meat from my diet. Sore thumb, huh?
In the past, I've taken some liberty with respect to documenting my diet. In my first column, I outlined my love of poultry. I feel obligated to inform you that specific example was entirely fictional. Haven't had chicken in more than 10 years now. You read it correctly. I know it's delicious. I know animals are made out of meat and meat is so tasty, but that doesn't change it for me.
I haven't mentioned it until now, because it's a piece of information that leads to preconceptions. I'm not a member of PETA. You do what you gotta do, and I'll do what I'm doing. Sound good?
Okay, it's out there. We're still cool, right? You had to at least be considering it. I'm not uber granola, but I was in the Peace Corps. It's not that big of a surprise.
So, there I am making my way through the hordes of fair-lovers with my "Vegetarians for Obama" pin on my chest. I'm getting looks. Yep, that guy looks angry, I think.
"They always wear pins," I hear a man say, referencing me. Who? The tall? Obama supporters? The near-sighted? Who? Dark-haired individuals? Those with dietary restrictions? Who?
I'm curious but in no mood to argue, so I continue on my way through Expo Square. I have raffles to enter. Wait, is it raffle-lovers? I check my neighbors guessing at the number of card decks in the hexagonal container, none are wearing political pins. No. This stereotype doesn't fit.
At one point, after I've made my way around the numerous fudge and candy booths, a strange man stopped me. He calmly asked me about the location of the Obama booth at the fair. I told him I didn't know. He paused. He then put his hand into a white plastic bag and told me he wanted to show me something. He had a smirk on his face. I tried to step back a little in case the bag's contents were less than desirous, but I was surrounded. Snake? Scissors? Soap? Those were just the Ss.
Luckily, it was only a bumper sticker he had designed. An original "Oklabama" bumper sticker was not at the top of my list of potential items to emerge from that bag, but nevertheless I was pleased.
The fair on a Saturday night was quite a scene. Throw Boyz II Men into that mix and the crowds grow and grow. With "Motownphilly" back again and lighting up the Oklahoma stage, I had a flashback to myself as a preteen making a fool out of myself while attempting to sing the very same song. Stick to whistling, Isaac.
The fair had all the requisite rides. Tilt-A-Whirl. Really, once you've got the Tilt-A-Whirl there's nothing else worth mentioning, but I will. These rides have some peculiar names. They sound like mixed drinks. The Himalaya, Sizzler, Kamikaze, Mega Drop Shocker, and Orbitor. They are also fairly similar in price. The mega ride pass varied in price from $55 to $70 depending on the date of purchase and included free entry into the fair. I guess it wouldn't be a bad investment if you could take off a week from work and continuously ride. I can't and didn't.
On a Saturday night, the wait for these rides was, in some cases, over a half an hour.
Instead of waiting, I made my way to the Urban Tulsa Weekly tent assuming I'd be recognized and possibly offered cash, a mega ride pass, or hugs. I received none, but I did get to hear some local music. I made my way back to Boyz II Men for a second reminder of the 1990s.
Earlier in the day, I'd seen some commotion near the Super Duty Barn. I knew the fair had much more to offer than just mega rides and music. I read Charlotte's Web as a kid. I'm no fool. I wanted to see some Wilburs. And, I did.
As I ambled around the petting zoo and birthing center, I was proud of my pin. If only the animals could read English, I thought. They'd know. I would never get any angry looks from them.
I can't recall seeing a giraffe, zebra or ostrich at any petting zoo I visited as a child, but I appreciated their presence at the fair, although they (especially the giraffe) seemed distressed. The giraffe almost tore down the stall in an attempt to escape. She must have been dying to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl.
There was a sow with all her baby Wilburs. An alpaca. And, even a kangaroo in a stall with a tortoise.
The birthing center had newborn chicks, pigs, and goats. I wanted to campout for the next birthing, but it was almost 11pm. They couldn't predict the next labor as accurately as I would have liked (within the next ten minutes), so I was satisfied with newborns.
In 2007, the fair had an attendance of over 987,000. This year I am doing my part to add to that total, although for my next visit I might don my "Eat More Beef" pin instead of the aforementioned vegetarian proclamation. You won't see me with any turkey legs. But, you can enjoy one for me.
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