Last year, Max, Jack, and I all went to the Contra Costa County Fair.
This year, we all went back again. I prepared Jack for the trip a few weeks ago, by showing him the pictures from last year. Whenever we talked about the fair, he’d say, “We see goats, an’ cows, an’ pigs, an’ sheeps, an’ cows, an’ horses.” or some combination thereof.
We went to the Farmers’ Market this morning, where we saw a bit of the Heritage High band playing a concert in the parking lot of a coffee shop. It was actually quite fun.
Mommy, Daddy, and Jack all woke up from their nap at about 3:30, and by 4:30 we were in the car going to the fair. We parked at the main gate this time (because this time, we didn’t miss the turn). Admission for adults is only $7, and kids are free. We entered where all the rides were, which we never saw last year because we came in the back gate. All the carnival favorites were there. We wanted to make sure to see the animals though, so we walked straight through the rides. At first, Jack was upset, because he saw the carousel horses. He wanted to ride the horses. I told him that there might be a pony to ride, and I think he thought the carousel was it. But I told him, no, we’re going to see the ponies, don’t worry.
Then we saw two brown bears in a large pen. Jack got all excited. He told me, “That’s Coruroy” (Corduroy). We watched them for a few moments, and then walked on. We got some lemonade, because, at home, Jack insisted that he needed to get lemonade at the fair, which I then drank far more of than Jack did.
On our way to the livestock, we saw the pony rides. I bought a token from a lady wearing a 7 month old baby in an Ergo, under a blanket. I gave her a $10 bill, and she handed me back three 1’s.
Now I’m beginning to see why kids are “free”.
Our wait in line wasn’t long at all. Jack pointed at the little shack from which tickets were sold and said, “Barn. That a barn.” I love Baby Einstein.
I fully expected Jack to freak out on the pony, so I walked with him. I needn’t have worried. Though he was one of the smaller kids, he got the biggest pony, Bubba. Bubba was taller than I am. But even when the horse started moving, Jack was happy. He was looking around. In the center of the ring, there were two ducks. At one point, he tried to get off of the pony to see the ducks. He got tired of riding the pony, but he didn’t get cranky about it. He really was great. (Now, on my first pony ride, which was also at the Contra Costa County Fair, circa 1980, I wailed. I have the picture to prove it. I always think that Jack will have as many fears as I did. )
Oh, speaking of pictures, they took a picture of him riding the horse, which we could have bought. We didn’t even look at it. I think I would have liked to, though I’m sure we couldn’t have afforded it. Here’s one Max got.
After the ponies, we started for the livestock. But on the way, there was a Kid’s Town, with a sandbox. Jack really wanted to play in the sand. We had to convince him that he wanted to see the cows. Fortunately, the livestock was very close, and there were cows literally just standing around outside the pens, so I took Jack over. A girl in her teens was holding the reins to a black cow. I asked, “Can he pet him?” and she said, “As long as you pick him up”. (Well, d’uh!) I did, and Jack was in heaven! First time he’s ever pet a cow. I found out that the cow’s name was Curly. He was only 14 months old. He was massive. I asked, “Is he going to get much bigger?”. She answered, “Well, he’s being auctioned tomorrow…”. OH.
One of the groups there was the Knightsen 4-H Beef Group. One of the goat pens included a poster with a drawing of a goat on which the various cuts of meat were labeled. Poor, poor goats. Fortunately, there was also a pen of Breeding Sheep, so I could focus on the positive. A lot of the livestock was being auctioned on Sunday, and I wondered how much a sheep would cost. Max looked skeptical. I told him, “I don’t mean I’m going to BUY one.” He still looked skeptical.
We saw and petted cows, pygmy goats, goat goats, pigs, shorn sheep, and shorn lambs. Jack would yell the appropriate sound at the animal “Hi Pig! Oink Oink!”, “Hi Sheep! Baa Baa!” and, my favorite, “Hi Cow! Moo! Nice oo mee you!”. One sheep seemed to be allergic to us, as he began sneezing right after I offered him a whiff of my hand. It seemed like he was having a seizure or something. Oh, and there was a sheep named Jack, so we made sure to say hello. Jack the Sheep had won first prize! Jack the child loved seeing and petting the animals. He actually kissed a pig on the nose. A lot of the pigs were sleeping, or trying to sleep. Jack put his finger to his lips and looked at the people and said, “Shh… quiet. Pig sleeping. I kiss him.” and planted one on the pig’s nose. It happened too fast to get a picture, but it was ever so adorable. We did get a picture of him meeting a pygmy goat.
While we were in the pens, there was one empty pen with a spider web in it. I got all nostalgic and almost lost Jack. Max was very alarmed, and I was about to be scolded. I explained, “There was a spider web in the pen.” Max kind of did the roll the eyes, sigh, my wife is nuts thing, but I avoided the lecture.
Max, by the way, was taking pictures during all of this. As you can see, these pictures turned out far better than last year’s pictures.
In true Jack fashion, he figured out how to open the pens. Fortunately, he didn’t, but when he saw my face… he knew that if he did open the pens, something very unexpected and probably fun would happen, but oh, would he get in trouble for it. I saw the thought process on his face.
We went from the pens to the cages, where we saw turkeys, chickens, pigeons, and bunnies. One of the pigeons had laid an egg. Jack wanted to go play in the sand. On the way back, however, there were these chairs to sit in, and they gave foot massages for 50 cents. Jack insisted that we each sit in a chair. I actually got to sit on Max’s lap for awhile, which was nice – to be the sitter as opposed to the sat upon.
Max wanted to walk down a different row to see what we could see, so we had to cut back over and up to get to the sand. Again, this year’s fair was full of overpriced stuff. Some of it seemed really neat though, and perhaps next year I’ll get a chance to look over it all. I always wanted an airbrushed t-shirt.
Jack was great in the sand box. He sat in a corner, filling a bucket with sand. He had a watering can, a rake, and a shovel. There were some rocks in the sand as well. We must have sat there for 30 minutes. Turns out, he was planting a garden in the flower pot. The rocks were “seeds” and the sand in the watering can was water. He very patiently filled up the entire bucket over the course of our time there. Really intent. I told him that Grandpa would be happy to hear about that. Around the sand box were bales of hay, which Jack pointed to and said, “Hey! That hay!”. Max had the brilliant idea of getting food while Jack played. He came back with some water, roasted corn, and marinated chicken sandwich for Jack and I to share. Jack really doesn’t eat meat, aside from the occasional chicken nugget. He did eat my bread. Because it was a fair, we permitted him to eat as many French fries as he wanted, which turned out to be quite a few. He climbed back into the sand box to finish planting his garden. Then, he dumped it all out, and handed his bucket to the girl sitting next to him (who had tried to snag the bucket when she got in, but fortunately there was another bucket nearby that I could give her). I told the girl’s mother, “That’s probably the most selfless thing he’s ever done in his life.” Totally couldn’t believe it. Oh, and when the other kids did try to take something of his, he never hit, just said, “Mine!” and either I would give the kid something else, if Jack really was playing with it first, or tell Jack to get something else, if it was a common toy. Really, he was pretty good about sharing.
Before we left, we needed jackets. I had put mine on before dinner. I told Jack he needed a jacket. He said, “No.” I said, “You put on a jacket, or we go home.” He said, “I wan’ put on my jacket.” Max said, “He is definitely my old man’s grandson. Making something sound like his idea.”
After dinner, we headed for the rides. On our way, I saw a familiar girl – Trinity! A friend from Jack’s playgroup was there with her mom and mom’s boyfriend. Jack and Trinity seemed to think it was kind of neat to see each other, though both were a little tired. Trinity wouldn’t let me take a picture of her, which is way out of character.
So, on to the rides. Tickets were 95 cents each. Each ride took at least 3 tickets. Yeah… that’s why kids are “free.” We bought 12 tickets so I could ride on the carousel with Jack and he could go one one ride by himself. Well, the carousel man said I could get on for free if all I was going to do was stand next to Jack. Seeing as the horses didn’t have seat belts, yeah, I was standing next to Jack. I really did have to keep him from sliding off. Although he looked a bit sad, he was really just soaking it all in. The mechanism by which the horse moved, the people all over, the lights, the setting sun. He really did enjoy the carousel, and wanted to go again. I should have just let him. But then he saw the train, and wanted to go on it. He and I went on the train, which was the most boring ride ever. It was just a train that went ’round and ’round in a small, flat circle. Jack wanted to go on another ride.
Max had mentioned going to play games. Well, he decided not to, because he had somehow hurt his foot. So I said, let’s do one more ride, which meant 8 tickets. Every ride Jack saw, he wanted to go on. We walked around the small area, and I finally said, “We can ride cars at home, let’s fly.” So we went to the bumblebees. Jack did not want to wait. The ride operator, who was rather young and not as jaded and carny-looking as some of the others, said Jack could go on now, if I didn’t go on with him. Jack said he wanted to go on now. Again, he didn’t look happy, but he said he had fun. Then, he wanted to go on the motorcycles.
It was 8pm, and the bees were supposed to be the last ride. But, we had (I said) 6 tickets, and I wasn’t going to let them go to waste. Fine. Jack wasn’t tall enough for the motorcycles. He’s 34-1/2 inches, and you had to be 36 inches, even if accompanied by a parent. Then he wanted tea cups, but he wasn’t tall enough for those.
We took a break for Jack to play a fishing game. As far as I can tell, with only a little help from Daddy, Jack caught a “frog” which he traded in for a small stuffed fish.
The rest of the rides seemed to be for taller children. We finally found some flying pink elephants. I handed the guy our tickets. We needed 3 each, and we had 6, right? Not so much. The bees had been 3 tickets for Jack, and we started with 8, and 8 minus 3 is 5, not 6. So Max had to get another ticket. Fortunately, the guy didn’t seem to care so much. Jack enjoyed the elephants, probably more than the bees or the train. So I’m glad we finished with that one.
Jack did NOT want to leave. But it was 8:30, and we had had a full evening at the fair. When we got to the car, he wanted “foo-snacks” (fruit snacks). The only package I had was melted and I couldn’t even get them separated from the package. Fortunately, I had a granola bar, and that worked.
When I got Jack settled in his car seat, I gave him his fish, and he said, “Glub glub. His name Glub Glub. His name not Jinxy.” (Jinxy is our cat.)
The ride home was short. Despite its shortcomings, I am happy that the fair is so close to our house. Jack took a bath and I came up to read him his night night book. I brought the newly won fish with me, saying “Glub glub” as I came up the stairs. Jack heard it and said, “That’s my fishie!”. He was sitting on the diaper table wrapped in a towel. When I came in, he dropped the towel, and inside was his baby (rubber) duck and (rubber) frog. We introduced them all, and fishie gave duckie and froggie a kiss.
Jack was great about stories tonight. We read two short books. He did want to cuddle and hear songs though. He didn’t go into his crib until 9:45. When he did, he started to tell his stuffed cows what he did. He said, “Hi cows! Guess what I did today?” Then he stopped. I think there was just too much.