posts tagged with 'fair'

fair game

We went to our state fair this week, the first time I've ever been. I thought we should do some comparative literature as home school prep work, so I read accounts of state fairs in some of our favorite old-timey books: Charlotte's Web and Farmer Boy. Then I asked H&Z to wonder how our modern fair would be similar or different. If nothing else, the prep served to make them EXTREMELY EXCITED as we drove down to Topsfield on Friday morning. The excitement carried over as they navigated the petting zoo and saw a REAL LIVE ELEPHANT!, but it waned a bit as we fought against large school groups to sneak a peak at the prize winning vegetables. After an intense hour of trying to see things in the crowded barns we took a break between the fried food stands to eat our bagged lunch. I asked Harvey if this fair was at all similar to the books. He considered a moment while he munched his sandwich, then noting EB White's description he said, "Lot of food for rats here."

OMG a laama!!!

After a heartening lunch at 10:30am (the crowds made us all want to stress eat) we enjoyed seeing the sheep sheering demonstration and a lazy parade of horses. Unfortunately, the general admission part of the fair was crowded as crowded could be, and the rest of the entertainment was designed to un-self-consciously strip us of as much cash as possible. I told the boys they could choose one ride and one game, because I am not a terrible moster of a mother. They chose the carousel (only if I rode with them, of course) and for $7.50 I hope they enjoyed the living shit out of that thing.

they seem to have inherited my fear of horses, even metal ones

Unfortunately we had a little family melt-down over the midway game choices. Overstimulation lead to poor communication, and it came out later that Harvey really wanted to play the water shooting game but he was afraid to ask how to shoot the gun. That might have been more fun for everyone, and cost $6 for both children to play. Instead Harvey threw a ball at a cup for $5 (!!!), there was a miscommunication with the Carney over how many balls he would get to throw, and the whole thing was over in a second in exchange for a 25 cent stuffed snake.

Neither mama or Harvey was very pleased with the fair at that moment.

Look, none of us want to throw away our money. There are so many useful things a mama could do with $5. But I share a dirty secret with those rare people whose love language is gift giving (all 8 of us in the world - hang in there sisters!) I actually LOVE spending money on my children. The more frivolous the better. I don't know why - it doesn't quite make sense. It's the easiness of saying yes, the rush of handing over my cash, the joy of looking at their smiling faces and thinking, "I love you more than financial reason."

Of course we're poor, and I'm trying to teach them values, so I don't do it as often as I'd like. Still, considering how much I adore those boys, I could fantasize about being MORE frivolous. My love for them is something that can never be budgeted. Symbolically speaking, a $5 ball throw does not even come close.

Still, this kind of spending is not fiscally responsible, and once we left the fair grounds I transformed that wasted $5 into a veritable homeschool unit. First we discussed the amount of enjoyment that came from playing the game and getting the prize (minimal, because as Harvey noted "it was over so quickly.") Then we stopped by our local real farm and noted the things you could buy for the same $5. TWO whole bottles of chocolate milk (not counting the glass bottle deposit because of trying to keep things simple.) Zion also noted that feeding the goats scraps there doesn't cost any money. And for good measure I took some pictures amidst the pumpkins - a free photo opp with precious lack of interlopers in the background.

our favorite place, ahhh calm sigh

I don't know what Harvey will internalize about money growing up in this family. I cannot present him with a unified theory, as I don't have one myself. I try to do a lot for free, but sometimes act like I've suddenly entered a duty free zone. I try not to stress about money, but truthfully I stress about it a lot. I don't know what Harvey will make of all of this. I'd like him to have both a sense of thrift and a feeling of abundance. Maybe the state fair is the wrong place to teach this. Or maybe it's the perfect place.

don't put all your eggs in one basket. The brownest take first prize.

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fair enough

Harvey and Zion on the back of a 1911 fire truck

helmeted and ready

Fall is fair season. The rhythms of the year demand it: folks are done with most of the hard work of growing our food and they want to kick back and have some fun, and maybe show off a little of the awesome stuff they've grown or made. Not that any of that applies to most of us anymore, of course, but it's sort of hard-wired into our emotional calendars. And I suppose it's fine, when we don't have prize hogs and giant pumpkins handy, to satisfy ourselves with old-timey fire trucks and modern tractors to ride on.

Harvey in the driver seat of a tractor, still wearing the fire hat

no line to drive this one

Actually, there was a fairly big pumpkin at the East Village Fair in Lexington, where spent a few hours this past Saturday, but it wasn't very big nor was it at all photogenic. There were also some great games run by young people, a wide variety of foodstuffs available at exorbitant prices, and some high-quality used items for sale. We picked up six good YA and/or Harvey read-aloud paperbacks for three dollars.

the boys looking at hand-made wooden toys

beautiful and expensive

Of course, besides the fire truck and the tractor the boys were most interested in two things that strictly speaking weren't part of the fair at all. The little store at the Lexington Waldorf school is full of wonderful toys and craft materials that they could have browsed for much longer than we allowed them—Leah and I agreed that it was wonderful except for the prices and the presence of the occasional questionable item like the "witch/wizard staff of power".

Then of course there was the playground, with its Noah's ark play structure; that was another good half an hour. But you know, as much as we would have enjoyed those two things any other day we happened by, there was something about the fair atmosphere that made them even more special. Just look at that smile:

Zion smiling through a porthole in a playground ark

hi there!

More fairs still to come; we'll keep loving the fall.

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