Avalon's Army of Angels
|August 7, 2008
Off to the State Fair!
Hi ho, hi ho...its off to the fair we go... ba dum ba dum
ba da da da Hi ho, hi ho, hi ho hi ho... (OK, enough
Disney rip off for one day.) I can't help myself, I LOVE
Before I even start this, I'll answer the burning
question. No, I probably shouldn't have taken Avalon
to the fair. But, she traveled the entire day in her
wheelchair, and we kept those incisions covered like
they were Obama's farts. Nothing ever hit the light of
day. In addition, all kids were sunscreened and
wearing their matching tye dyes to make them easy to
see and hard to lose. So, was it medically prudent?
Maybe not. But life is for living - so LIVE we did!
The fair is an old tradition in our house. We don't
usually even walk near the medway. (where the rides
are - for you non-fair folks) The fair is about
creatures, barns, quilts, silly cakes,
crafts-I-don't-have-time-to-do, Smokey the Bear, and
lots and Lots of Fair Food. Ahhhhh...the joys of Fair
Food. Grease and salt, sugar and dough - these are
the things that make my heart go... (Or stop) For
one glorious day a year, I toss all reason to the
manure pile, and indulge my kids' (who am I kidding?
MY) every food fantasy. In one day, we ate two,
count them two rounds of greasy, drippy fair fries.
The kids had fair corn dogs (so much better and
crispier than the boring home ones) and I had fried
Mozzarella cheese on a stick. We had the amazing
ice cream from the dairy building, and an elephant
ear. We ate popcorn and cotton candy, and even
had a slab of peanut butter fudge. Yes, my friends, it
We started our day early. We managed to make it to
the fair, park and get in the gate about 1/2 an hour
after they opened. Thank you AAA, our tickets were
only $4 each, rather than the national debt they
should have been. Truth is, the fair is financially
daunting with 4 kids. That lovely break on ticket
prices helped buy several of those delicacies I
Much to our delight, we were at the fair during one of
the draft horse days. Our perfect fair day started by
visiting with the Budweiser Clydesdales. We missed
getting to see them hitched up, but we stopped at
each stall first thing, and marveled at their size, their
faces, their magnificence. Yep, I've brought my
children completely to the dark side, they think
marveling at animals is a privilege. Hee hee hee...
From the Clydesdales, we passed through a new tent.
It was devoted to Ohio agriculture. A few cool
exhibits, but much of it was over their wee little heads.
I wouldn't even have bothered mentioning it, but
explains the first two pictures at the top of the page.
Two lovely volunteers gave Anam his very first tattoo,
a giant bug. The girls were thrilled with the offer of a
tattoo, and little Mr. I have to do anything my sissies
do was not about to be left out. He stuck his mini-gun
out there, and was fully enamored with the bug they
place on it. Fabulous memory #2 of the day, and
we'd only been there a few minutes!
The tent led us back to the Heritage Crafts building.
While our favorite portrait artist was mysteriously
missing, we did run into two old friends, Bob and
Kendra. Bob and Kendra play dulcimer and guitar -
and were the musicians at our wedding several years,
and a multitude of kids ago. They marveled at how
old Aurora was, and quite easily agreed with me, that
we've all aged magnificently - and it can't possibly
have been that many years.... Yes, its lovely to have
people willing to jump right into your delusions with
The next building is one of my favorites. Its also the
one that draws the "Oh good Lord, you take your
children there?!" comments from most people. I'm
quite happy to report, I not only take them, they're
always thrilled to join me! Hold onto your hats, its the
quilt and handmade items building. I wasn't kidding
when I said I'd fully converted my children to the
Religion O' the Fair. They like going to see the crafts
and cakes! Yeeeehaaa! I've scarred them for life.
Alright, I'll come clean. The quilts are certainly not
their favorite parts of the building. They like the
painting, cross stitch and stained glass, but they
LOVE the doll-making, dollhouse, and cake
competitions. Who wouldn't? The entries are more
amazing each year. In fact, we've determined - it will
be a family project to make an entry for the miniature
competition for next Summer. You'll have to wait and
see, we think we have a pretty fabulous idea.
This year, we happened to be there for an exhibit
we've never even heard of before, the Central Ohio
Lego model train society - or something like that. I
have to say, if its new, I hope like the dickens they
choose to bring it back - it was the coolest thing I've
seen in a long time. The display was so magnificent, I
took lots of pictures. To make sure you can see the
details, I'm going to link to a different page with just
Lego pics on it, so I can post the pictures big enough
to show everything. For Lego wonderland, Click Here.
|Anam feeling brave and offering
|Even big sissy, Aurora, tried.
|Mama cow's 1 week old baby. Can
I hear an "Awww...."?
|Best chocolate ice cream, ever!
|This is the only time pigs are cute.
|Admit it, that's adorable.
|This one was warning Anam about
sisters who talk to geese.
|Smokey the Bear, in the Ohio
Dept.of Natural Resources section.
|Baby brother, Anam, bored while
they wait, and getting goofy in
|Waiting in line for a chance to try
fishing, at the ODNR pond.
|Completely lost his mind...
From Arts and Crafts, we headed to see our first
critters, sheep. We got to watch a few sheep being
readied for competition, and had several discussions
with rather friendly rams. My kids think I'm such a
meanie. I won't let them pet anyone's animals, unless
they get permission from the owner. First of all, its a
great way to get bit - reaching into an unknown pen.
But equally important, its terribly disrespectful to the
farmers. Every year, I get the bevy of eyerolls as I
make the kids repeat "mom's rules" of barn visiting.
Ahh well, hopefully, my dorky rules will instill a level of
respect in them. At least, I fool myself into thinking
We did get permission to hug a sheep, so the girls
were happy. We also met some wonderful crafts
people, who taught the girls about spinning wool and
weaving gorgeous fabric. They gave the girls some
raw wool, so they could feel the lanolin in the fibers. I
sprung for my usual $1 bags of scraps of sheepskin.
The kids love to carry them around and feel them.
We probably have a dozen of them around the house
somewhere. But that $1 bag each, always makes
them feel so spoiled. Someday, I'll come up with a use
for all of it!
The sheep barn exit was right next to the commercial
building, cheap shopping extravaganza! Actually, the
commercial building is quite the unique gathering of
crap. There is everything from bulk candy and
imported clothes, to fair food and home improvement
services. Not to mention the Highway Patrol exhibit,
and several booths about state departments. I'm
telling you - this building has character. (it also had
We were, once again, disappointed to find no alpaca
booth. Several years ago, I bought the girls matching
alpaca teddy bears, and we've been looking for one
for Anam. I suppose I'll have to do the boring thing,
and get one on eBay. That just won't have the same
romance factor of him hugging his way to the perfect
We did find a few trinkets to spend our nickels on.
Aurora and I couldn't pass up the 4/$10 earrings
bargain at a favorite jewelry booth. We are the proud
new owners of glass bead fish (in two different colors),
frogs (its the year of the frog, you know), and
flamingos. Ten bucks for all that tacky fun, you can't
I also found something I've been looking for the past
two years. I have a hair doo dad that I use nearly
daily. Its a brass piece that I use to hold my hair in a
french-twisty way, without bobby pins. Its wonderful,
and doesn't give me the headache that bobby pins or
pony tails do. I've been searching every art fair or
festival for years, looking for something similar. Lo
and behold, we stumbled across a booth with a very
similar, but even better version of my doo dad. Better
yet, they had these silly little hair twists that the girls
have wanted for years from the Rennaisance Festival.
At Renn-fest, the twists are metal - and cost $40 for
a little one. At the magic Ohio State Fair? The twists
were rubber, my hair thingies were made of piano wire
(and supposed to be nearly indestructable) and we
left with 4 thingies, 1 large twist, and 2 small twists - all
for the bargain basement price of $51!! I LOVE the
Fair!! (have I said that yet?)
We also met up, briefly, with a friend of mine in the
commercial building. Unfortunately, her son wasn't
nearly as enamored with shopping as my girls were.
Our co-fairing didn't last long. BTW, that is also a hint
as to why Daddy doesn't usually do the fair with us...
From the commercial building, it was time to stop for
some food, and a potty break, then on to the barns!
On the way to the horses, we were waylayed by a
dairy exhibit. All of the girls tried their hands at milking
a cow. I'm here to report they all succeeded. I'm
rather ashamed to admit, the one time I tried several
years ago - I couldn't get a stinkin' thing to come out.
So glad to know my kids have bested me in at least
While we spent way a couple of hours in the horse
and cow barns, we have no pictures. We never want
to spook them in the stalls. We didn't pet any horses,
but we had lovely chats with a few owners, including a
10 year old boy who introduced us to his favorite
mare. We also met a 6 horse hitch of Belgians that
obviously had some wonderful children at their home.
These horses targeted our kids like they were long
lost buddies. Two of them even kicked the stall walls,
trying to get their attention. Seeing giant draft horses,
rubbing their heads on doors like kittens, blowing and
begging for a scratch, nearly had me breaking my own
rules. In the end, we settled for talking to them, and
appreciating how much they followed Ambrosia and
Avalon, acting like Aurora and I were invisible. Too
The horse barns lead into the cow barns, Ambrosia's
favorite. Most kids go to the fair and want a horse, or
maybe even a rabbit. Not my Ambrosia! Every year
she goes and wishes on a dairy cow. This year, she
understood more about milk production, so she
informed me we needed a girl and a boy cow, so they
could make babies, and the cow would give us milk.
Its probably important to point out, Ambrosia is
addicted to milk. She'd drink a gallon a day if we
didn't insist on water too. I think she misunderstands
the state in which milk exits the cow. I'm pretty sure
she thinks she could walk to the barn in the morning
and fill her gallon jug for the day. That's OK, this is a
fantasy I don't mind her keeping.
As far as Ambrosia was concerned, the fair was a
complete success, because she got to hug a cow. We
met a wonderful farmer, who was actually just there
helping a friend that day. She was kind enough to
help Ambrosia stroke the derriere of a sleeping
cow...pure joy in Ambrosia's eyes. Who could ask for
more? Happiness in the form of a cow tuckus. Wow,
my kids are easy.
From the cow barn, its a natural progression to go
visit the butter cow and the ice cream building. You
see, Ohio has this odd tradition of a "Butter Cow".
Every year, a life-sized cow and calf are carved from
butter, and displayed in a refrigerated window in the
ice cream building. The cows are always the same,
but each year they are joined by some symbol of
Ohio. This year's choice would have been better off
left to toast duty. They carved a "Mt Rushmore-ish"
thing with the faces of presidents from Ohio. It didn't
look regal or mountain like. It resembled a large pile
of barn leftovers, with weirdo mannequin-esque faces
stuck to the side. Total waste of cholesterol. Sad,
The ice cream, however, was its usual glorious self.
Melty and rich...its simply divine. I'm sure lots of the
allure is the setting, but I do argue that its pretty high
quality frozen dairy confection. Anam missed the
entire ordeal - he was too busy snoozing.
Once we had refilled our fair-food tanks, it was time to
head for the piggies. While we always enjoy the
piglets, the fact is, the pig barn stinks, and there's
nothing really enjoyable about meandering through it.
When the goats are there, we can spend oodles of
time goat hugging, but I've yet to feel any sort of pull
toward wandering the aisles, peeking at pork. The
girls agree. We usually pop in to oooh at the piglets,
and beat a path out, pausing briefly to wave at the
giant hog. This barns a brief blip on our radar screen.
After pigs, we headed to one of our favorites, the
rabbit and chicken pavilion. I admit it, I have a bit of
an addiction for what I lovingly call "Afro-chickens". I
don't have the slightest idea what breeds they are. All
I know is, there are a group of chickens that look like
either Bob Marley (the ones with longer feathers), or
the dude from the Mod Squad (shorter feathers). I
don't give two clucks for their proper names, they just
make me laugh!
The girls were thrilled that we were there at bunny
time. The fair rotates certain animals and breeds in
and out over the 2 week run of the fair. Some days,
there isn't a bunny in site. We were lucky to attend on
a day that I got my afro-chickens, and they got their
bunnie fix. The only problem with that, was the
amount of lobbying for a bunny that I had to field. I'm
a tough nut though, I held my no-more-pets ground.
Too many kids to have as much fur as we used to.
Besides, we're renters! Can't saturate a house with
furballs, when its not yours. (OK, we have the nicest
landlords alive, they wouldn't care. But its a great
excuse with the kids! Shhhh...don't tell.)
After chicken-grinning and bunny wishing, we were off
to the Natural Resources section. We did miss out on
one family tradition this year. We chose to leave the
NR section before seeing the last lumberjack show.
We decided seeing the Governor's Cup 6 horse hitch
competitions was more important. Knowing we'd miss
the chainsaws and log rolling, I agreed to pacify my
progeny, by waiting for them to try the fishing pond.
(we've always been too rushed to wait before)
The ODNR stocks the ponds with 4500 bluegills at the
beginning of the fair. We were there, 2 days before
the end of the fair... Basically, the only fish being
caught were ones committing hair cairy. Not only were
the numbers down, but at this point, the fish knew
exactly what was going on - no tricking them with your
stupid lure. Sure, a fish or two committed a
fancy-pants suicide during each session - but the
chances of one leaping onto the girls' hooks was
Meanwhile, Anam and I waited....and waited some
more. We were both bored out of our skulls, when I
was lucky enough to over hear the following drama...
Scene 1 - (fishing group before my girls - a fish
decides life isn't worth living - and leaps to his doom,
onto an 8 yo boy's hook)
ODNR officer: "Do you want to keep your fish?"
ODNR: "OK, have a great day!" (officer walks
away with the fish)
Scene 2 - (my girls are now in "fishing school" - ha
ha, yes, I crack me up - learning how the ponds work.
Re-enter mother of the 8 yo boy)
ODNR: "Can I help you?"
Mom: "Yes, I'm really embarrassed, but my son
wants his fish back."
Mom: "I'm so sorry, but my son changed his
mind, he really wants his fish. Can you do
ODNR: "Oh sure! I know exactly where I put him
in the back. No problem, I'll go get him back
Me: Thinking....What?! Know exactly where you
put a fish? Man...he's good.....
Scene 3 - Happy little boy, pumping the hand of ODNR
Scene 4 (my girls are now fishing - and ODNR #1,
comes back to the pond, greeted by ODNR #2)
ODNR #2: "What on earth was that all about?"
(ODNR #1 fills him in on above conversations)
ODNR #2: "You said What?! What did you do?"
ODNR #1: "Went and grabbed a fish. They all
As ODNR #1 walked away, I was finally able to laugh...
Oh, and the girls weren't lucky enough to meet any
suicidal fish...we left empty-handed...
6 pm found us in the coliseum, watching the infamous
Governor's Cup. We had tremendous fun rooting for
the hitch of the little boy we met. His horses came in
third! Yahoooo! I'm sure it was because he loved
Finally, with no more schedules to worry about, we
made time to ride the Giant Slide. Thankfully, the
price of the slide is conspicuously posted. I was able
to argue with the girls that we could only afford one
ride. I would have gladly paid for more, but even one
was exhausting for Avalon. There are only about a
zillion stairs you have to climb for that 30 seconds of
"Wheeeee!" that is so coveted. The darn camera
takes too long to reload, I got one picture of the three
of them, then only the single shot of Avalon. They
"Wheeed" faster than it could Whirrrrrr....click. Rats.
By now it was getting pretty late, and I'm reasonably
sure my knees were forming a posse. But Aurora had
seen the "Yo Yo guy" on the show schedule, so we
headed over to the gazebo to watch him. Aurora had
fond memories of his show from a previous year. I
couldn't remember that he existed. After watching the
show, I realized my memory hadn't failed... I'd blocked
it out, to protect myself from the torturous images.
There is a reason the man works the fair, on the tiny
stage... Only the 7 and under crowd find him funny.
Aurora decided he was soooooo bad it was humorous.
Ambrosia and Avalon thought he was Hilarious. I
wanted to stick a spork in my eye. Anam could have
cared less - he had cotton candy.
Eventually the torture ended, and we headed for the
last stop of the day, the hypnotist's show. This was a
new hypnotist, not one we'd seen before. I can only
conclude the good guy wanted more cashola than the
hot chick new one. I'm not saying she wasn't cute, I'm
simply pointing out the obvious...she stunk. The 13
and younger crowd were in awe.... but they liked the
Yo Yo Guy, so there is no accounting for their taste.
We didn't get to stay for the entire show anyway,
because Anam began caterwauling like a wounded
moose. Since the crowd had been cautioned about
staying quiet,( to preserve the hypnotic states of the
people on stage) I quietly offered to buy Anam a car,
as I used him as the excuse to run for my sanity. Poor
little fellow, it wasn't until we reached the car that we
discovered he was yelling, because he had a poopy
As we dragged our collective heinies toward the car
(even Anam's malfunctioning one!), we found our
chance to complete one last tradition. Ever since
Aurora was tiny, I've made sure to take her picture
with an Ohio State Trooper. In the beginning, it was a
way of teaching her about what the officers look like,
and how they are her "safe" friends. Over the years,
we've met so many wonderful men - its become a
game to see if this year's crop is nicer than the last.
As we headed out the gate, there was a gaggle of
them, clustered near the exit. We began walking
toward them, rather than toward the opening we were
supposed to. One of them stepped out to admonish
us, that "Ma-am, you need to exit over there..." That's
when we told them we didn't want to exit yet, we
wanted to pose with them for a picture. At first, he
didn't quite process what I asked. Then, the other
guys started jockeying for position, and our hall
monitor joined in on the fun. In fact, he even tried to
pick up little man, but Anam was too tormented to
agree. In the end, we got our happy kids, silly
Troopers picture, and grinned our way to the car.
As we drove home, we all agreed it had been the Best
Fair Day ever! We say that every year...but its always
true. I know this was a simple, poor man's day...but I
wouldn't have traded a second of it! Would I love to
take the kids back to Disney? Of course! But finding
supreme joy in milking a cow and talking to a horse
whose head is bigger than your 5 yo daughter's
body...why that's something wonderful. I don't get the
pleasure of keeping my children forever. The little
buggers insist on continuing to grow. The only thing I
get to keep are memories of days like today. Days
where we didn't do anything extraordinary...but each
minute was spectacular.......
|Trying to will a fish onto the line
|Afro-chicken, Mod Squad style
|The horses who loved kids
|The perfect end, to an AMAZING Day!