The Oregon state fair's slogan is "Too Big To Miss" which Grant earnestly pointed out to us the first summer we moved here. We take that slogan seriously and have made a visit to the fair a yearly tradition. It is a highlight for the kids and a great way to cap off the summer. The past two years my Dad and his wife Marcy have driven over from Bend to share the day at the fair with us, which makes it even more fun.
This year was an exercise in practicing patience. I think everyone in a five-state region descended on the fair at the precise time we arrived. I've been to the fair multiple times over the course of my life and have never seen it so crowded. It took us 50 minutes from the time we entered the parking lot to actually get through the entrance gate. We waited to park. To buy tickets for the fair. To buy tickets for the rides. To buy the over-priced and greasy food. To use the bathroom. It was so ridiculous that it became funny. No one lost their patience, including the kids. I was so proud of how we all just rolled with the punches and made it fun in spite of all the people and all the waiting.
My Dad and Marcy treated the kids to their first ride on a ferris wheel. Paige wasn't quite tall enough so she rode the carousel instead. All four kids were convinced their ride was the most amazing ride on the face of the earth. We blew through our designated wad of cash buying greasy food for lunch which also makes me laugh. I mean really - who pays $3.75 for a fried corn dog that is exactly the same as the box of 24 sitting in their freezer at home? I do. Times four. While we ate our corn dogs and onion rings, we watched dancers and all three girls couldn't take their eyes off the stage.
Alli brought her spending money (all $1.00 of it) and treated her siblings to a "tickling feet ride." She proudly bossed them into the seat with the vibrating foot stool, put the quarter in, and pushed the start button. It was adorable to see her so tickled to be generous.
A group of musicians from Peru playing pan flutes lured us into their beautiful music. We stood for a long time listening to them perform while Alli danced along to the music and periodically dug pennies out of her coin purse and tipped them. They seemed to really appreciate Alli's enthusiasm for their music and we even bought one of their CD's (which I'm listening to as I write this blog).
Katie's flip flop broke about one hour into our four hour journey so we walked around the entire state fair with one flip-flopped foot and one bare foot. She even walked through all the animal barns, darting around the manure, in her bare feet, with Grandma Marcy on poop spotting patrol. I tried to not think about all the germs she accumulated on her foot.
I stood in line for 20 minutes to buy ice cream. My Dad ordered a sundae with three toppings not knowing that the three toppings came on three huge mounds of ice cream. We laughed at how ginormous his sundae was.
To top off our great day, some old friends of mine from Scio drove up to the fair to meet the kids. When I was in high school and needed money, they'd hire me to do odd jobs around their house and in their company. We hung out at the exit, hugged and reminisced about old days. It was so great to see Johnny and Sherry again after all this time and to introduce my family to them.
We drove home and took turns sharing about our favorite parts. It may take my stomach a day or two to recover from our "meal" but I can't wait until next year!