This weekend, we spent a lot of time back home for the Butler County Fair. I'm convinced there is nothing that screams summer in the Midwest more than a good ol' county fair. And although I no longer schedule my outfits around every day of the fair like I did when I was young, I do feel called to give my boy some of the small town experiences I grew up relishing as a child. Like the smell of the show barns and that mysterious oil they drench on the gravel walkways when it gets too hot and dusty. And the food - the band stand and their pork burgers and pie, the dairy promoters and their milkshakes, and the carnies and all of their staples - cotton candy, corn dogs, funnel cakes, and lemonade shakeups. In a town of less than a thousand people with nothing but a Casey's convenient store and a single restaurant on Main Street, our town came to life during that one week every summer and I loved the people, the food, and that familiar hum from the grandstand every night. And with nothing but a fence and my neighbor's backyard separating us from this commotion, we loved the front row seat we had to the action. I remember sitting on the fence with Stacy that Tuesday afternoon, watching the rides come into town and making our agendas for each day. I remember studying the pictures of the fair queen candidates in the paper in order to accurately guess my pick. I remember sitting on Grandma and Grandpa's porch listening to the music and staying up late making new friends and new boyfriends from surrounding towns, sealed with a phone number and some hideous stuffed animal won at a balloon dart stand. And while things have changed a lot since then, it was still nostalgic and a little magical to revisit this old friend this weekend, eat some of her food, and watch Cruz discover some of the joys of my small town childhood.
...the show barns. Cruz loved him some big cows and continues to amaze me with his no-fear approach to animals. I've never seen a child so comfortable around them, like he's an animal whisperer or something. I think he would have made a great farm kid.
...the rides. I had my 10-year class reunion on Friday, giving Cruz a special night with my mom and dad. When we met up with them well past Cruz's bedtime, we found them chasing Cruz from ride to ride, or I guess I should say, from the cars to the elephants. He made friends with the carnies, went potty in a port-o-potty, and conned his mom into riding a ride with him.
...kid's day was Saturday, and the whole family braved the heat to watch the littles at the fair. Cruz and Charly rode the cars six times, Jordan got nauseous on the pirate ship, and Beau had the kids screaming and spinning on the dragon ride. I watched Cruz and Charly on the rides and had visions of similar images of me and Jordan when we were little, ponytails, red faces, and big, beaming smiles.
(PETA advocates may want to stop reading at this point...)
...and last but not least, the scrambles. I hadn't been to the scrambles since I was a kid, and was convinced this was the signature event of the fair. For those of you unfamiliar with this event, every Saturday night of the fair was reserved for an event in which children of all ages take their turns chasing and catching animals in an arena in front of the grandstand. From bunnies and chickens for the little ones, to greased piggies and calves for the big kids, there's something for everyone. And seeing four year old children walking through the midway holding two chickens by their feet is not an uncommon sight after the scrambles.
Although I was always too leery to take part as a child, I was convinced Cruz would be all over the action. But instead of walking away with a chicken, Cruz caught a bunny instead. An adorable, white bunny with black spots that Cruz caught within the first five seconds of the event. Yes, my ambitious little animal lover never thought twice about going and scooping up one of those sweet little bunnies in the midst of the 200 1-3 year olds congregating in the arena. He never flinched once, and scored one of the cutest bunnies in the place. And in typical toddler fashion, he picked it up, loved it for 2.5 seconds, then handed it to me after it scratched his hand. In tears, we made our way back to the grandstand, bunny in hand and mulch in shoes, to show off our prize to the fam. Except at this point, Cruz was over the bunny and upset that his blue sno-cone had melted. So, after some pictures as evidence, and a quick contemplation of whether we wanted a new pet or not, I found one of the many empty-handed farm kids who would provide a far better life for said bunny. We left, grabbed some tacos and a blue sno-cone for Cruz, went to cool off at Great Grandma and Grandpas, and listened to Cruz tell one animated story about his great bunny catch.
So although I'm a tad bit sad that we didn't have a bunny to play with yesterday, I have some hilarious memories of my boy at the fair. Maybe next year we'll try for a chicken...
Other pictures from our week...pool, puddles, and pizza on the deck.
Have a good week!