To be "fair", I've never been a fan of rides... at least the big ones. So when my daughter asked me to take her to the Scott County Fair this year, I was under-joyed to say the least. I was actually the kid who hated to go to Kings Island because everyone would try to peer pressure me into riding a roller coaster or some crazy, not-of-this-world apparatus that drops 100 feet to the ground at 50 miles an hour. Why people?! I actually liked the merry-go-round, the teacups and the bumper cars but no "cool kid" ever wanted to do that, so mostly I just tried to avoid amusement parks in general or anything remotely close in nature. And now, in my forties, I couldn't imagine a worse place to go.
But as mother's often do, I sucked it up and took my daughter and her friends to the fair in Scott County hosted every year by the Georgetown Kiwanis. In fact, I actually built their website, so I knew exactly what I was in for. According to Webster's dictionary, the definition of a county fair is "a fair usually held annually at a set location in a county especially to exhibit local agricultural products and livestock" but it's definitely much more than that these days. Yes, there are livestock events including anything from horses to swine, but they also have ATV racing, truck tug of war (again, why?), vendor booths, beauty pageants, music concerts, cowboy mounted shooting, wrestling and of course, rides.
So one Friday night, I loaded up the teens, and headed off to four hours of anticipated yuck... for lack of a better word. When I got there, I will admit I was pleasantly surprised to discover the cost of entry was only $10 per person for unlimited access to everything. Where else can you go for $10 nowadays? Not helping my moody however, was the fact that it was 96 degrees but when we approached the first ride, the Fun House, I have to say, I loosened up. Navigating through the maze of mirrors distorting not only my perception of reality but my body image, only to glide down a curly slide, I had no choice but to laugh. I can't tell you the last time I've gone down a slide.
After than, we headed to the loudest ride in the park (or so I thought - stay tuned). I am not sure what this thing was called, but you sat in a cart, went super fast in a circle, first frontwards and then backwards, slightly uphill and downhill, all while fun, hip hop music blasted... until, for some ungodly reason, it turned into the sound of the loudest police siren you've ever heard. While spinning around in circles never bothered me before, I noticed that this time, I felt a little dizzy when we got off and the blaring cop noise wasn't doing me any favors but moving at a fast pace did help to cool me off in the scorching sun so I was good with that.
Next, we moved to the bumper cars. Ahhhh, finally, something I enjoy. Kinda. I realized about five "accidents" in that the nostalgic memory of "crashing" into people no longer had the same affect as a grown woman ramming into small children. With every bump, I found myself apologizing as the young pups looked at me like "what's wrong with you lady".
With three rides under my belt, it was time for a drink. "Where is the wine, people?" They had every drink you could imagine from Frosted Slushies to Super Lemony Lemonade to one gallon jugs of "red stuff" but no alcohol to be found anywhere, so I settled on a bottled water. I watched my daughter and the gang mull over the many food items available from normal to "fair only" food like deep fried twinkies and elephant ears. The whole time I am thinking, "Don't do it girls. Your stomachs will regret it." But what teenager listens to their parents?
As I was sipping my H2O and shaking my head at the teens, the loudest, most obnoxious sound I've ever heard in my life exploded. What the freak? It was a sound I've never heard before and frankly, never want to hear again... the drag racing had begun. Why people??? I swear, I bet an atomic bomb makes less sound. We made our way to the track because I had to verify for myself that the end of the world was not near and sure enough, people sat in bleachers as they watched jacked up vehicles take off at abnormal speeds. I knew in that very moment, I would never in my life attend a NASCAR race. Nope.
So, I retreated to the quietest place at the fair... the livestock show. And there we saw a "goat contest". I have no idea what's involved but I watched little boys and girls parade their animals around and I must saw the "kids" were cute as buttons. Next, the Walker Montgomery concert started and I was beginning to feel more like myself. This was definitely more my speed. But it didn't last long before the girls pulled me to another ride.
Now, remember when I told you I liked the teacups? Well, I learned that is not really the case anymore. I just think my body can't handle it. We did six more "round and round" rides and by the last one, my body said STOP. You are too old for this. So I listened. I spent the rest of the night following the kids around and watching then scream, laugh and have a blast. I have to say, that was the best part. As nighttime fell, the fair lights took over the sky and it was beautiful. Just absolutely gorgeous. There is nothing like a fair at night.
We finally left the park around 10 pm and I noted that I had not seen my teenage daughter this happy in a long time. For $10, she had the most fun doing nothing more than spinning around on rides and as a mother, I realized that was really what it was about. Kids today are drenched in social media, selfie sticks, video games and YouTube clips. It's rare to see them enjoy the same childhood activities we did as teens. So it was nice to see. Really nice.
The fair is a place for everyone. Some people hate it but a lot of people love it. Especially kids. And I learned that night, it wasn't about me reliving my childhood memories, it was about being a mom who watched her daughter be a kid. And you know what... it was the best $10 I ever spent.
There is still time. Go take your kids to the fair. You won't regret it when you see their smiles. Especially from your teenager.
For a complete listing of fairs in your area, click here.