Two Days at the County Fair

It was with my usual bother & tizzy that we set off for the county fair again this year,  jouncing over the hills in a most un-merry fashion. The rush brought one of the girls, and nearly more, to tears, and I vowed (again) that I would wake up at four o'clock in the morning next year so that Time would be mannerly to us.* We dropped off our floral bouquets the first day, squeaking in just before the deadline (again), and walked around for an hour or so until the judging closed, and we could return to the exhibit building and gloat over our winnings. (*Just so you don't think I'm a total lazybones, I did wake up at six.  There's just something about creating and transporting double-digit bouquets with eight children that makes Time misbehave, is all.)

The second free gate day unfolded more smoothly, though, as it usually does.  We packed a picnic lunch full of gastronomic goodies purchased with our blue ribbons, enjoyed ourselves without all the hurry, and let the fair unfold its myriad wonders--

The world's tiniest horse in competition!
The world's greatest giantess in competition!
(You may pick.)

Beulah the kind, humanely-cared-for, VERY HAPPY elephant! (Just ask her caretaker, who deflected any questions about her possible misery before activists could even ask them with long-winded explanations of her blessed life.)

...which caretaker was kind enough to let Annika feed Beulah an apple.  (Okay, this came only after I shamelessly begged.)

In like manner, Mildred was kind enough to force Rundy and Deborah to feed each other cookies.  Giving a cookie bigger than one's head only under the condition that it must be hand-fed doesn't seem like all that much of a gift, but I guess newlyweds don't mind.  They did leave the fair shortly after this, though, probably because they were offended.

We went back to (the knowledgeable and gracious) Dan the Snake Man's tent to peer at all his reptiles.  The first day, he'd brought out a rattlesnake for us to stroke, as well as a dozen other exotic reptiles we could hold and closely examine.  People crowded the tent on the second day, though, and we had to satisfy ourselves with contained beasties.

At least he brought the large, lemony one out again.

Aidan was unconscious by the time we got to the 4-H building for the yearly stairstep photo.

Thanks for nothing, Ezekiel!!!

Piper informed me that cows are her second-favorite animal behind skunks.  That girl has a weakness for black and white.

They were transfixed by the milking parlor.  Live-action cows giving milk! 

We made a thick wad of cash this year from our entries, so, for the first time ever, everyone got a bonus, free ride at the county fair instead of having to wait for the state fair.

Annika and Susannah purchased their own ride on this one.

...so they could save their free ride for the ferris wheel.  

Just soak in those glorious views!

The girls took the camera with them on the ferris wheel.  Susannah was slightly nervous.

Lucinda was most decidedly not.

While the girls were waiting in line and then enjoying the ferris wheel, I endured the Worst Twenty Minutes Ever at the County Fair.  

We were at the tail end of a seven-hour, napless, sugar-filled day. I had just told Aidan that he was too short to go on any rides and Ezekiel that he did not get a second free ride.  The baby was strapped to me, soaked in sweat and sucking her thumb for dear life, while I wrangled these squalling, red-faced charming, cherubic boys to the other side of the fair. Even in that harried state, I still saw looks of sympathy and judgement from fellow fair-goers as I  wheeled one boy in the stroller, stopping every thirty seconds to re-strap him in, while hauling the other by one arm, and with a frantically-thumb-sucking baby strapped on front, away from the vision of their privileged sisters. Those of you with large families can imagine this clearly, I'm sure.  Thank you for the look of sympathy.  Those of you without an ounce of sympathy...well.  Just "well," I suppose.  Thank  you for the look of judgement.  It still stands as one of my finer moments.

On the way out, we bought elephant ears (of course!), and Piper blew all her winnings on a giant bag of cotton candy.  This heartened the boys considerably, as you can see.


All's well that ends well, though.  Scarfing greasy elephant ears in the van before we head home?  Now that's a good ending.

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