posts tagged with 'fair'

party music in Bedford

Last Thursday was the first of four summer concerts here in town. When they published the schedule I was pretty underwhelmed, but when Thursday afternoon rolled around we headed up anyway... it's hard to pass up a party! And I'm glad we did, because it ended up being a fantastic time.

Zion zipping down an enormous inflatable slide

wheee!

Besides the big slide and another bounce house (well, bounce obstacle course really) there were big Connect Four games and corn hole, and lots folks to hang out with: it seemed like almost everyone we know in town was there! And then of course there was the music too, which was surprisingly better than I had expected. I don't always trust the quality of "Caribbean music", but The Kolors Band had enough bass in the mix and plenty of energy to make things fun. I wanted to dance, of course, and the band wanted everyone up and dancing... sadly, in Bedford people don't, generally. But you can always count on kids, and once the band realized that nobody else but the kids was actually going to interact with the music they gave up on the rest of the crowd and had a little dance party for under-tens (and me). Here's Lijah getting down; you can also see us for a couple seconds in this video!

Lijah dancing to the soca beat

soca!

The show closed with a full 15 minutes of limbo madness, as pictured here. Amazing! There's no way tomorrow's show can possibly be as good. We'll probably still go anyways. Yay for summer music.

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this fourth day of July

Yesterday we went to the Picnic in the Park to celebrate Independence Day in style. It was maybe our tenth straight year going or something; maybe more. Once we find something good, we stick with it! Most of us, anyway: Leah was even more wiped out than the rest of us by our adventures on Cape Cod the first half of the week and our late-night return on Wednesday, so she stayed home. Plus, cotton candy doesn't have the same appeal for her as for some others of us.

Lijah eating cotton candy

holiday sugar

And not only cotton candy: pie and ice cream too!

Zion with a bowl of pie and ice cream at the fair

he won't be able to eat all that

Also popcorn and candy, plus all the food we brought from home for our lunch picnic. So it was a good thing that we had some active pursuits in the bounce house and the field games. Here's Zion taking a fall trying to catch up with the bigger kids in his second sack race heat (he still finished first among the smaller ones).

kids competing in a sack race

thrills and spills!

There was music too, which I enjoyed more than the boys. They're big now, and I appreciated that when they wanted to play on the playground during the Concord Band set they could do it without me there! Lijah is especially impressive. When he wanted a balloon animal, he was able to wait in line by himself for like half and hour, which I never would have been able to stand.

Lijah watching a clown make him a balloon animal

his patience is rewarded!

The only downside of the day was that water to play in was in short supply. The fountain was turned off, and the fire department with their hose—usually a highlight—packed up early for some reason. But there was plenty of drinking water for us to quench our thirst after our bike ride to the fair, and refill once again for the trip home.

Harvey's friend Jack came with us, which was super fun, and we met up with a whole bunch of other friends there. It all contributed to a great celebratory day: even without fireworks, it was just what Fourth of July should be.

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solstice on the river

The solstice this year was busy with celebrations: our community group's little party Harvey on Friday evening, two big parties for friends Saturday, and an end-of-the-year picnic at Church mid-day Sunday. Luckily, the Town of Concord scheduled solstice festivities for Sunday afternoon starting at one, so by hurrying we were able to get to the Old North Bridge in time to see mid-summer greeted in style!

our boat below the Old North Bridge, it covered with singers and bubbles

midsummer spectacle

Besides the solstice, we were also celebrating the Concord River and its tributaries, so the party was called Riverfest. It's happened for a few years now, but this is the first time we managed to make it—and now that we did, I'm sorry to have missed it before! So many fun things there. We started off making some art; Harvey was feeling grumpy, but the woman running the art table was so energetic and encouraging she drew him out of his funk, and once launched he worked on his project for quite a while. Lijah doesn't have patience for long-term projects, and after a few minutes he decided he wanted to get his face painted. I was amazed and proud to see him handle the whole thing, from standing in line to telling the young woman what he wanted to be (a white bunny) all by himself! The transformation was startling.

Lijah in white rabbit facepaint

yikes!

Next we listened to (and participated in!) some river-themed kids music. When that wrapped up we went for a little canoe trip downstream... but not very far downstream, because the current was running fast and we didn't want to work too hard on the way back! It felt very companionable with dozens of boats out on the river. Most of them weren't even taking any part in Riverfest, but that didn't mean they were enjoying the river any less! When we got back to the bridge the boys all went for a swim—even Harvey, who chose not to bring a swimsuit along on the trip. Never mind, the sun was hot!

the boys swimming in the Concord River, beyond the canoe

the only cool place

Then it was time for the most exciting part of the afternoon, the cardboard boat race. As tempted as I was to sign us up as participants, I though it would be more prudent to watch one year before jumping right in. So we spent a relaxing hour wandering among the busy teams of cardboard crafters and eating snacks. I think we learned some things about what it takes to get cardboard to float. As the race itself kicked off, we certainly witnessed plenty of examples of what not to do!

young people launching and sinking cardboard boats

is that what's supposed to happen?

As we talked about the festival in the days leading up to the solstice Mama decided that, all in all, it sounded like a little much to her. But as dinner time approached things were pretty calm, so I invited her to join us for dinner (plus, she could bring Harvey some dry clothes!). Some friends showed up just a little later, so the nine of us shared a peaceful picnic while listening to some lovely bluegrass/country/oldies played by an acoustic trio. Well, it was peaceful for the adults and Harvey... the four smaller boys entered into some freewheeling—and occasionally violent!—play with the other young picnickers.

the boys and other kids playing around a big rock

they all still have energy left!

As it started to get dark, the festival organizers started up a fire. While it wasn't totally the solstice bonfire I'd been anticipating, it was plenty big enough to toast the marshmallows they'd thoughtfully provided for smores. The boys wished there was enough to have more than one, but it was a pretty good-sized crowd.

Lijah eating a smore in smoke and sparks

fresh from the fire

The day concluded with a solstice singalong on the Old North Bridge, while those of us with boats paddled around beneath with candle lanterns glowing. Plus the bubble guy was there to make the atmosphere even more magical. What do you sing at a solstice singalong in Concord, MA? Some Beatles, a couple tunes from Hair, "This Land is Your Land"... stuff like that. As it got dark at last you could even start to see the lanterns.

singers on the Old North Bridge at twilight

singing in summer

Then we turned for home. The boys have fallen asleep in the car lots of times; this was the first time they ever did in the boat. We celebrated the heck out of that solstice!

the kids lying down in the canoe

shh!

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fair on the fourth

Last Wednesday was Fourth of July, and we went to Concord for the Picnic in the Park. Like we do. It was super hot, which kept lots of people away; the crowd was noticeably smaller than usual. But we weren't bothered at all, because we have tents!

a pair of shade shelters in the grass

portable shade

The little one there is ours.. the big one belongs to our friends. They also brought along a hammock. Luxury! There was a bit of a breeze so sitting in the shade we were totally comfortable as we ate lunch and listened to music.

Of course, with so much going on around us we couldn't sit still forever. When we heard the announcement that the field games were starting we headed right over to compete in the sack race, three-legged race, and sponge toss. None of us won anything, but we had fun trying!

Zion and Lijah finishing the sack race, Harvey watching

made it!

All that competition was hard work, so we were glad that the fire department was their with their hoses to cool us down. After we all got wet enough Lijah and Zion took their turn at the spraying.

Zion spraying the firehose, with firefighter assistance

hosing down the kids

There was lots more fun after that: listening to music, riding the train around the field, jumping in the bounce house, playing on the playground, and just relaxing in the shade. There were also balloons to collect and play with.

Lijah with a balloon hat, sword-belt, and pet

balloon warrior

It took us five hours to start to feel done—just as well, because that's when things started to wrap up. So we rolled up our tents and hopped on bikes for the ride home. When you do things every year you notice how the kids are growing up: Zion able to ride the whole way himself and, unlike last year, Lijah even wore shorts for the occasion!

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Bedford with friends

Saturday was Bedford Day, and we celebrated it with more friends than ever before! The allure of our wonderful town is hard to resist; people we already know and love keep moving here. So naturally we got together to celebrate all Bedford has to offer.

the boys and friends waiting on the curb before the parade

almost parade time!

Which turns out to be mostly lots of candy and kids desperate to get their hands on it. Last year I recall being a little calmer, but on Saturday everyone was full of energy and ready to charge into the scrum.

the boys scrambling for candy--along with lots of other kids

candy chaos

It was a little overwhelming, actually; there were some tears. I'm afraid it didn't show the town in its best light: no one could see the little ball players for all the chaos around them. At least no one got run over, though there were nervous moments in front of us. And with all the competition our candy haul was disappointing to at least two members of the family (I'm inclined to see that as one small silver lining).

Of course, the parade wasn't all bad. The trucks were as loud as ever you could want, and Lijah's friend Henry seemed to be completely satisfied. For his part, Lijah endured the little bit of gunfire from the Bedford Minutemen with greater-than-usual stoicism (though he didn't like it). And the Party Band was there to give us a few moments of good music.

Then after the parade we spent a delightful three or four hours at the fair. We watched the karate demonstrations—Zion is ready to sign up right now, especially after he broke three boards at the recruitment booth—and the fitness dancing. We bought books at the book sale and got balloons and bubbles for free. We ate our lunch from home, then supplemented it with brownies and cupcakes from the Episcopal bake sale. And the boys got to go in the fire truck. Zion enjoyed one special reward of fair-going with friends: another dad took pity on the middle-sized children's desperate need to play mini golf at $2/person, and funded them one round. Now that's generous!

Zion, Nathan, and Julen playing mini golf

worth every penny

We all had a great time. Even the great heat didn't deter us a bit (most of us; Lijah may have been slightly deterred in his fleece pajamas). We were so content that it wasn't even very upsetting to lose Harvey on the way out and spend ten minutes looking for him, only to hear from Leah that he made his way home on his own. All's well that ends well!

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fourth day of July

Like we do, we celebrated Independence Day at Concord's "Picnic in the Park". Our descriptions of it over the years are so glowing that we enticed several other families out to experience it themselves, and it was nice hanging out with them a bit—but we also had some lovely family time.

the boys watching a band

musical picnic

Once again we biked in, all together this time, and once again we brought our tent. It's so nice both as a source of shade in the big baking field and as a home base to dump all our stuff. When we're hanging out at a picnic for five hours we need to really set up camp!

our bike, tent, and rug

the place to chill

None of our experience was particularly patriotic, in any explicit way (which is fine by me!). But it was, as always, wonderfully small-town American. We did a sack race and a three-legged race.

Harvey and me getting ready for the start of the three-legged race

you can't see our legs, but they're tied together

We listened to music, enjoyed boughten popcorn and Italian ice, and jumped in the bouncy house (well, Zion and Harvey jumped; Lijah wasn't feeling it and they wouldn't let me in). Harvey decorated a little wooden train with paint and stickers. Zion and Lijah played with Julen on the playground. But the most fun of all was the fire truck and its hose. Last year I think the kids just ran in the spray; this year they were much more intimately involved.

Zion spraying the firehose, with Lijah's assistance

the power!!

We approached the firemen as they came back after a break, so there weren't many kids around. That meant Zion, Julen, and Lijah each got to take maybe a dozen turns with the hose; Harvey got five or six when he showed up too. They had a great time. Getting sprayed was plenty fun too.

the kids playing in the spray from the firehose

refreshing

As we were cycling home it occurred to me that we hadn't talked at all with the boys about the meaning of the 4th of July. Did they even notice that this fair was connected to a particular holiday? Maybe not—definitely not, in Lijah's case. But how much could he understand about the Declaration of Independence, anyway? I don't think it matters. The important thing is, we're free to have a good party. Happy summer, and happy fourth day of July!

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blowing our entertainment budget

On Saturday evening the bigger boys and I accepted a friend's invitation to check out a West Virginia-themed event at a local church. Mountain music! Unhealthy food! How could we resist?! The reason for the theming was that the the church is sending a mission crew down that way and needed to raise funds, so naturally I expected to have to pay a couple dollars. But even with the best will in the world I wasn't ready to manage the $20 suggested donation just to get in the door. Isn't the cost of living a lot lower down there? 10$ should be fine. Once inside, we enjoyed some educational material about Appalachian poverty, kids crafts and coloring pages, a free cupcake from an everyone's-a-winner cakewalk (Zion didn't even participate and he still got a cupcake). And some good music, as pictured somewhere below.

Of course, just the cupcakes weren't enough food for the boys—never mind that they'd already eaten what I had presumed to be supper—so I splurged on a $6 kids dinner plate split between the three of us: a little pulled pork sandwich and a giant brownie. I also helped myself to some coleslaw, which was out on the table to go on top of the West Virgina-style hot dogs, but I think that was ok because we were meant to have a side anyway. Maybe? The young person manning the table was perhaps not entirely clear on the procedures. He also forgot to charge us—really, to record the charge on the piece of paper all the festival-goers had to carry around to record their purchases—so we could have eaten for free, but I'm an honest type (at least when there's no coleslaw on a table in front of me) so when the time came to "check out" I told them about the dinner and handed over my $6.

So $16 dollars for all the thrills of a fair at a suburban New England church. It may sound like I'm making fun—OK, I probably am, a little bit—but really, we love church fairs. And the money goes to a good cause, and it's probably not all that much compared to other entertainment options available these days. We just don't usually pay for entertainment, so it stings a bit when we have to. (At least we went in this time...)

And we had to again yesterday, when (different) friends invited us out to free play time at an indoor sports place in Tyngsboro. All three boys had a great time running around with lots of other kids and balls, sticks, riding toys, tunnels, and parachutes (and me—I did lots of running around too). It turns out Zion is pretty good at floor hockey!

Zion posing with a hockey stick on an indoor turf field

sportive

It was all lovely, except that we had to pay $13 for two hours of fun. And then we had to clean up all the balls and toys so the soccer kids could come in and use the field! Any bad taste that detail might have left, though, was totally obviated when the woman who was running the place offered a packet of fruit snacks to all the kids who helped clean up. So the only issue was that I don't feel like I can be handing out that kind of money every day. Especially not two days in a row! Is that a crazy expectation these days?

It may be, but at least this morning the weather was fine so we got in a lovely long adventure in, totally free—well, besides the ice cream we bought. But that feels more worthwhile! Expect more of that story tomorrow.

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another midsummer

The solstice is a grand thing, and we did it right this year, but it's hard to really celebrate properly when most everyone else is going about their everyday business. But no worries, because we have a big national celebration of summer to share just a couple weeks later. We tend to head over to Concord for their charming festival—it has lots to recommend it, not least the fact that it's in the middle of the day. This year the bigger boys and I biked there; good thing we have a bicycle that can carry plenty of supplies.

Zion in the back of the blue bike with lots of gear around him

all packed up

And, just as important, a seven-year-old who can confidently ride the five-and-a-half miles there and another back, with plenty of energy left over for enjoying the entertainment on offer.

Harvey riding down a country road

Harvey's independence

Like the bounce house, which the boys jumped right into as soon as we arrived. I worked on setting up our tent, which I brought along to liberate us from the narrow band of shade at the side of the field, where most folks listening to the bands have to squeeze together. We really appreciated it on a warm day with blazingly hot sun; we also appreciated our packed food, including peas and raspberries fresh from the garden.

picnic in the tent: Zion with our nice array of food

our picnic in the park

I was a little worried about the tent being in people's way, and made sure to set it up at the far back of the field, but it turns out concern wasn't necessary: about twenty minutes after we arrived a large group showed up and put up this considerable edifice right in front of us.

tents set up in front of us

rival encampment

But that was fine because there was plenty to do all over the place. We played in the spray from a fire hose.

the boys ducking the stream from a fire hose

spray park

And explored a ladder truck.

the boys in the crowded cab of a ladder truck

how many firefighters go in there?

The boys rode a "train" all around the field—all by themselves, without making me squish into one of those little seats to go with them (like lots of other parents had to do—or maybe they really enjoy it..).

Harvey and Zion waiting for the

they don't need me

I was impressed by that, but even more when they decided they wanted to go through the interactive theater / obstacle course experience by themselves. They learned what it was like to be an early immigrant to Massachusetts.

Harvey entering the

entering into the experience

The immigrants had all kinds of adventures, including having to carry swine out of the maize fields.

Zion carrying a pink pig ball

pig portage

And of course we listened to music!

boys lying on the ground in the shade, right up near the band

Southern Rail, as tradition dictates

Lijah napped and lunched at home, then he and Mama joined us in time for some of the fun—and all of the italian ice!

three boys, with mama, enjoying italian ice

note how they picked red, white, and blue

Then we went back home, where we totally meant to lie down in the dark house for the rest of the evening—but then our neighbors invited us over to play and eat pie, so we did that instead. They had red-white-and-blue glow bracelets to share too, which was perfect: we didn't get to see any fireworks this year, but staying up until after dark to throw the glow things around was a fine substitute, and a great end to a fine celebratory day.

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was I un-fair?

This past weekend I took the boys on an outing to East Lexington, drawn by the promise of a Holiday Fair at the Waldorf School. We love fairs, and we're reasonably positive on Waldorf education, so it seemed like a sure bet. But when we were already in the doors, I was stopped in my tracks by a table positioned across the hallway and a sign announcing a $4 per person cover charge.

Sure, there was also a $15 cap per family, which as Harvey pointed out meant we would save a dollar; but since I only had $24 in my pocket and things inside the fair would cost additional money, I suddenly had serious doubts about the wisdom of proceeding. Zion wanted to go in; Lijah didn't particularly care; and Harvey wanted to make the right decision. So did I: the right decision that didn't involve us possible wasting a lot of money. I took them across the street to Wilson Farm instead and bought them each a treat, and then we visited Grandma and Grandpa and walked through walls in their delightfully under-renovation house. So it all ended happily.

But I can't help but think my extreme hesitation in the face of that cover charge might be a sign of a weakness in my personality. A holiday fair full of beautiful homespun Waldorfy crafts and games: it could have been totally awesome! But I just couldn't do it. And it's part of a pattern: while we explore lots of exciting places, I'm regularly turned away by spending money to get in anywhere. In the last month we've not gone in to an art sale and Buckman Tavern in Lexington, and those are just the ones I remember.

On the other hand, I did pay lots for apples that one time, and I let them ride the 50¢ merry-go-round at Market Basket. And I heard from other folks that I made the right call, and this particular fair probably wasn't worth it. But I didn't know that at the time!

What do you think... am I unfairly depriving my family of the possibility of joyous experiences because of my cheapness? Should I just loosen up and live a little?!

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almost winter fall fair

I don't know how we missed it the last four years, but it's not since Harvey was one that we made it to the Fall Fair at the Congregational Church. If I'd been paying attention we would've made more of an effort to get there, because we went yesterday and I stand by my 2010 assessment: it's fantastic!

the main hall of the fair, sparkling with yellow and orange decorations

shining fair

Unlike that last time, we had no advance notice that the fair was happening; I didn't notice the signs for it—on congregants' lawns all over town—until we were biking up to the playground yesterday morning. As suddenly cold as it was, so the playgrounding didn't last long, and after the library we were glad to have somewhere else inside to go. In theory, anyways; in fact the outdoor attractions caught our attention for quite a while. I didn't manage to photograph the petting zoo, but there was plenty of time for pictures at the bouncy house and the bean bag toss.

Harvey and Zion on the slide of a giant bounce house

winter bouncing

the boys playing at the beanbag toss

try and try again

Inside we perused the white elephant sale, where Lijah charmed the old ladies at the check-out table with his careful examination of the merchandise. We only had two dollars, so it took a good half-hour to decide on our purchases: a little car, a box of dice, a sword, and a silicone pan for baking donut holes. Well worth it.

Elsewhere, there was food—which sadly we couldn't afford—and more free activities for kids. Harvey and Zion were delighted to find a Battleships game: not really life-size, but certainly quite a bit bigger than anything we've seen before. They were still happy about it even after I beat them, and I was happy that, with a board of only 49 squares instead of 81, the game was well quicker than we're used to!

my side of the giant battleship board, mid-game

two of mine sunk

Before we left we had to check out the Christmas wing, four rooms full of lights and beautiful handmade crafts and baked goods. Once again we wished we had more money: for a tiny sleigh, and a loaf of english-muffin bread, and...

Harvey and Zion amidst hundreds of lighted Christmas decorations

next month's sparkle

Next year's fair is on the calendar, and I've made a note to budget $20 dollars for it. Do you think that'll be enough?

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