Tonight, we had the quintessential family experience: We went to the County Fair. Mostly, I thought that Jack would like the livestock. He loves cows, and is learning how to say the names and/or sounds of many farm animals. He now has: Moo, Cow, Baa, Goat, Hop Hop (bunnies), Cuck Cuck (chickens), and Pig. Getting to the livestock meant going all the way down a very loud midway. The food vendors included funnel cakes, the Cotton Candy Castle, Mexican food, Thai cuisine, fresh lemonade, BBQ, sundaes – all the fair favorites. (Wait. Thai cuisine? What’s that all about?) Booths ranged from the traditional fun, games, and souvenirs to the body piercing (sanitized and sterile!) and custom cell phone accessories. Max even saw a little lucha libre mask and started telling Jack he could be that for Halloween. (Mommy thinks he should be a cow.) Anyway, we smelled the livestock before we saw it, so we knew we were going in the right direction. At first, I couldn’t see how big the area was, and all I saw were some goats being shown in pens. The 4-H was out en masse. I had never seen them in their uniforms. They look kind of like sailors in a bizarre Old Navy ad gone wrong. Lots of braids for the girls. Jack loved watching the goats walk around the pens. Then, we saw that there was more. There was an area of cages. What was in the cages? First, there were turkeys, who didn’t seem to be all that impressive, nor were they impressed by the fairgoers. But, what was just past the turkeys?
“Hop hop! Hop hop!” Jack was extremely excited to see the bunny rabbits. Most of them were up and eating or hopping. There was one bunny who was so beautiful! Its name was Bambie (sic). I told Jack that if he ever did 4-H, he might get to raise a Hop Hop. We spent a great deal of time walking around the rabbit cages. We progressed to the chicken coops, then to see the roosters. There was a Polish type of bird. I can’t remember if it was a chicken or a rooster. It had this big Elvis-like poof of feathers over its head. I couldn’t see its eyes.
Next to the roosters were other birds, mostly huge pigeons, which didn’t look like standard pigeons at all. They looked more like doves crossed with chickens.
Beyond that was a whole complex of corrals and pens. There were cows being shown (by a 4-H girl in braids and a 4-H guy with sideburns and a navy blazer ). We kind of weaved around, seeing the sheep, who had just been shorn, apparently. They really did look naked. The sheep noise is tricky. Conventionally taught to children as Baa!, Jack learned it from an episode of Go Baby, in which the sheep actually bleats. So when you ask “What does the sheep say?” Jack does a dry laugh. It does sound a bit like a bleat, but it is not Baa! Well, mid-way through the rows of pens, Jack starts saying “Baa!”. He also found a new word – goat! Goats and pigs far outnumbered any other animals there. Jack liked the pigs, but he clearly preferred the goats. We found the cows on the outside of the pens, in small corrals. We were not allowed to touch them, so Jack could not “pat” them, no matter how much he said or signed “please.” But he did enjoy seeing them, and said “Moo” and “cow” a lot. We went back in and saw more pigs, one of whom let Jack pet him. Sadly, the pictures of the encounter show my arm in front of Jack petting the pig, so there is no permanent record.
Side note: I really hate our camera. It takes pathetic pictures in dim lighting, and mediocre ones when the lighting is difficult. The pen/corral area was like a barn without walls, so the light was coming it at odd angles. This caused many of the pictures to be blurry. Also, it has now decided that any picture taken when someone is moving, even slightly, will be blurry. I have to keep setting the blasted thing when I really don’t understand any of the options, despite the fact that I have literally read the manual twice. Not just skimmed, but read, paying attention and everything.
But I digress…
At the end of the building there were horses. These horses were in large cages, with a security chain around the area, and a security guard in each corner. I told Jack, “Horses are expensive, so I guess that’s why there’s the extra security.” Then Max pointed out a Budweiser truck, and said, “These are Clydesdales. They’re famous horses.”
Max was taking the pictures because there are so few of me with Jack. He didn’t take pictures of individual animals though, so I can’t show you the massive Clydesdales. They’re like the Andre the Giants of horses.
In the pens next to the horses were a few pygmy goats, which Jack petted with glee. He seemed to really love the goats, perhaps even more so than the cows, because he could touch them. Next to the pygmy goats were 3 or 4 llamas. They weren’t too interested in us, which was kind of sad, because I know Jack would have loved to pat one. Also, we just got the book Is Your Mama a Llama? so there was that connection.
We left the building by way of the steers. A lot of people were joking about “2000 pounds of meat” but throughout our expedition, I was telling Jack, “This is why we don’t eat pigs or cows.”
We had to put Jack back in the stroller. Then we went back down the midway to where we came in. It had gotten darker, and it was actually chilly. Jack started asking for food as soon as he saw me get an $8 BBQ chicken sandwich. I gave him some of the bread, then went to the Fresh Lemonade stand where I paid $5 to a guy who called me “Sweetie,” “Honey,” and “Darlin'” in the span of one transaction. Good lemonade though!
Max (with his $8 BBQ pork sandwich) sat down with Jack while I looked for the vendor selling PB&J. I found them, ordered the sandwich, then noticed that it came with a free drink, and yes, they had lemonade, which looked like it may have been made from real lemons. I also got some garlic fries. They sold salads too, and I asked if they sold very many of them. The guy said, “Maybe 25 or 30.” I said, “Coming to a fair and eating salad? Who does that?” He said, “Vendors. People who travel and want something good to eat. That’s why we do it.”
You learn something new every day.
So I went back to where Jack and Max were sitting. I had to take Jack out of the stroller because he couldn’t drink out of the straw while he was in it – the drink was too tall. He ate about 1/4-1/3 of the pb&j. Max also told me that Jack shared my food preferences – Jack wouldn’t eat the bread that came from Max’s pork sandwich, only the bread that came from my chicken sandwich. Now, it probably has more to do with wanting Mommy’s food, but still, I hope that he maybe came out of there with a tiny understanding of not eating other mammals.
Jack became cranky during “dinner.” The fair was just too loud and it was hard to understand what he wanted. We left before Max had a chance to win him anything. We went out by way of Brad’s Reptile World. There was a small building, about the size of an average church hall, full of terrariums. They had turtles and tortoises, salamanders, lizards, snakes, iguanas, and a baby alligator. Actually, it looked more like a school-aged alligator. They also had an albino python and you could have a picture taken with it wrapped around you (for $6). After we looked at the iguana for a bit, it closed its eyes and Jack said, “Nye Nye”. Then, they put the baby alligator back into its wading pool, and Jack said, “Kick Kick”. Then he started leaning towards the pool and signing “Please.”
“No Jack, you cannot go kick kick with the alligator.”
When we got home, we tried to see if Jack remembered what we had done. We talked about seeing the cows and the goats, then he started back for the door. He said, “Bye Bye”. I said, “Jack, we just came back. Why do you want to go bye bye again?” He said, “Cow. Moo.”
He took a very quick bath and was asleep on my lap within the hour.
I say the event was a success!