Thursday, July 27, 2006

Have I stayed too long at the Fair?

The afternoon before last, I took the girls to Opening Day of the Sonoma County Fair. This year, admission on Tuesdays is free before 3 p.m., and you know your Uncle Swan's mantra: "If it's free, it's for me."

Believing as I do that every moment of life is a potential educational experience, here's what I learned at the Fair this year:
  • Temperature is relative. As you probably know, we've had record-shattering temperatures for several days here, but Tuesday marked the beginning of a cooling trend. Where we had hit the 106-degree mark on both Saturday and Sunday, Tuesday's high was in the low 90s. Compared to the brutal heat of the preceding days, our seven hours of pounding the sun-baked fairgrounds felt like a stroll through a shady forest glade, even though it was still sweltering.

  • Those Budweiser Clydesdales sure are ginormous. And feisty, too. One of them kept trying to spit on us as we admired him. Of course, had someone forceably removed my testicles — all of the males among the famous Budweiser troupe are geldings — I'd be a mite feisty myself.

  • Some people, upon passing their friendly neighborhood tattoo parlor, should just say no. Several times. In fact, there ought to be a cutoff point for tattoo artists, like there is for bartenders: "Hey, pal, I think you've already had a few too many."

  • The most sublime cinnamon roll you'll ever consume is one baked fresh on the premises by Crown Cinnamon Rolls. KJ and I scored a couple hot out of the oven, and good googly moogly, were they tasty. Up yours, Cinnabon.

  • Any girl wearing a tank top with "Hottie" printed on it probably isn't. And if she's younger than the legal age of consent, both she and her parental units should be spanked soundly and sent to bed without their grilled turkey leg.

  • Many of the people who enter the arts and crafts competitions believing they are undiscovered talents are sadly self-deluded. Especially those who enter the poetry contests. I've read better verse on the walls of truck stop restrooms. Someone this year wrote a poem about poop. I kid you not.

  • A few of the people who judge the arts and crafts competitions are utterly bereft of taste. In the photography pavilion, we saw some gorgeous shots that didn't win anything, while some pictures that looked as though they came out of your kid nephew's throwaway Kodak had prize ribbons hanging next to them. Ditto for the drawing and painting competitions. Go figure.

  • Local celebrity restaurateur Guy Fieri recently got his trademark spiky platinum locks rebleached. Guy, winner of this year's Next Food Network Star contest and now host of Guy's Big Bite on that selfsame cable outlet, busily chatted up high rollers on his cell phone while his loyal minions doled out his famous garlic fries at one of his three food concessions. Culinary note: Major props to Guy's "pork slyder," a pulled-pork barbecue sandwich sliced into hand-sized portions roughly the size of a White Castle hamburger (aka "slider"). In the words of Ferris Bueller: "It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."

  • Certain performers simply cannot pull off certain material. I had never before heard a middle-aged gentleman of the Causasian persuasion sing "We Are Family" on a public stage. I hope never to repeat the experience.

  • Would people really pay a dollar apiece to ogle "The World's Fattest Pig" or "The World's Smallest Horse"? Apparently, some would. Your Uncle Swan was not among them.

  • Teenagers with weak stomachs — or who have consumed massive quantities of alcohol — should avoid carnival rides that rotate at a high rate of speed. Actually, I came by this knowledge many years ago. But we saw at least one kid with his head in a trash barrel to whom this informational tidbit was apparently a newfound acquisition.

  • Well-intentioned rules can appear stupid if not thoughtfully implemented. Fair security stipulates that attendees cannot carry knives onto the fairgrounds. (I left in the car the substantial folding pocketknife that usually occupies my right front pocket.) However, one can purchase in the vendors' pavilion a set of kitchen knives only slightly shorter in blade than a machete, and walk around the grounds with them for the remainder of the day. Does that make sense?

  • Sheep entered in the 4-H competitions do not enjoy having their wool shorn, or their feet spray-painted black, or being keelhauled into the show ring. For that matter, I wouldn't, either.

  • As quaint and rustic as it sounds, the Sonoma County Fair is a fun way to spend a summer day and evening. But then, I already knew that.

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