Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hopes, Dreams, Pronto Pups: The Kansas State Fair

Until a few nights ago I hadn't been to the Kansas State Fair in years. Let me work out the timeline in my head...
I haven't gone since I've graduated from college.
I didn't go at any point when I was in college.
When I was a late teenager, I was far too cynical to find anything even remotely redeeming about fairs.
It's easily been over ten years. Until the other night when Ryan and I went.

And it was a lot of fun in some ways and kind of depressing in some ways but over all I really liked being there. Fun for the obvious reasons, the lights and colors and people watching and chickens. It's a little depressing when you go and you are an adult (in the technical sense of the term). You can see the dirt and grime of things and the things that necessitate utilizing the hand sanitizing stations. You can see all the wires and the creepy people who have the job of saying, "Step right up. Step right up. Everyone's a winner." And they've been saying it all day and all week and they're sick of it. You walk through the amateur photography exhibit and all you can think is, "I wouldn't put that picture on Facebook and here you are submitting it to exhibition? And someone accepted it?" But when you're little it's all, "Pretty colors," and "taaaaaake me to the riiiiiiides-uh!!"

On the drive up, we talked about our culinary hopes and dreams. Ryan wanted a Pronto Pup and I wanted to find fried cauliflower. Every time I mention fried cauliflower, everyone responds with, "sick." But it's sooooo good. And you never find it anywhere at all. Probably because everyone is disgusted by the mention of it. But I thought if any place would have it, it would be the fair. But mostly I didn't get my hopes up.
Ryan: There will not be any fried cauliflower there.
Libby: Yuh huh! It's delicious.
Ryan: No, it's not. Why would anyone even offer vegetables when there are things like fried candy bars and funnel cakes?
Libby: While you make a valid point, the answer is: because it's awesome.

And after you pay the eight bucks to get into the gate, nothing else is free. Except for the bunnies and the chickens so first stop is bunnies and chickens.

The bunnies were precious:
I will call this one Henry.
Ryan thought this one reminded him of Penelope. My niece.

The chickens were incredible:
This lady was a huge, beautiful optical illusion and I couldn't stop staring at her.

The pigeons wore lovely, weather-appropriate coats:
Miss Havisham



And this turkey was repulsive:
Any given monster created by Guillermo del Toro
There really is something about looking a bird in the eye that makes you think, "you used to be a dinosaur, didn't you?"

Walking out of the chicken coop, I was hungry. I said, "I'm hungry." We were walking along and the very first food booth I saw advertised, Stuffed Cucumbers (which are sliced down the middle with the guts taken out and stuffed with--seafood salad. Do not attempt to eat this.) I poked Ryan and said, "Look. See? Vegeta--FRIED CAULIFLOWER!" And so I walked up to the guy and said, "fried cauliflower, please." And then the guy was like, "alright." And then I saw that I was about to pay $5.00 for cauliflower. I had to just accept it. For the record, not only was it delicious but I didn't see another place anywhere that sold my culinary dream come true. This was providence. Maybe.
Here is a picture of me being enthusiastic about this treat. Mostly I know that Sarah Beth will be happy that this still exists in the world and that's why I went to the trouble to tell the cauliflower story even though it is dreadfully anti-climactic. I wanted it. I got it. I enjoyed it. The end.

I'm not really all that into rides but when we were little, my dad's favorite ride was Ye Old Mill. He would get so excited about it and even though he usually griped about money and stuff, he had no problem dishing out the cash that it took to take his family of 6 on this ride. The Old Mill, for the record, is a combination of The Tunnel of Love and a haunted house. You get in a little boat and snuggle up close and go on a ride through a river of crap jumping out at you. Admittedly I am a scaredy cat and I like it that way. When I was little, I would crouch down in the bottom  of the boat and scream and shudder and my dad would laugh and try to pull me up and say, "I have you." But every little time a hand shot out, I would dive down to the floor again. This was the first time I've been on the ride with anyone other than my dad. I'm legally a grown up but when we got in the boat I clung to my purse and could feel myself crouching down again like I was little. And Ryan laughed at me but once we got going--it was not such a big deal. Even the air horns and the rapey guy saying, "We like screamers," (Really, guy? Don't be gross.) didn't really phase me. It was nothing like what my mind remembered. But back then you didn't get in trouble for utilizing cell phone cameras.Yeah, some guy in a white Kansas City Chiefs' jersey yelled at Ryan for taking a picture of some guy's jeans because I said, "I wonder what this place looks like in the light." The Old Mill looks like jeans. Go Chiefs!

Then mostly we just wandered around and were amazed by the things that you can eat at the fair. Krispy Kreme hamburger? Fried Kool-Aid (which, by the way, I have on good authority, tastes like a gelatinized Flinstone vitamin)? Fried pineapple? I really wanted to try the fried pineapple but I was tired of giving money to people. Fried cookie dough. Tacone. People, a tacone! There are great ideas--that would be a taco. And then there are friggin genius ideas and that would be the tacone! Taco in a cone, alright? I wanted one. But six dollars? It's $.50 taco night at Taco Tico and I'm not even engaging in that--I'll make my own, thanks.
Ooh. I could make my own.

Then we walked through the deserted places full of stuff that people try to sell to you in the daytime. We saw lawn mowers and RV's and a jacuzzi that retails at just barely over what my parents paid for our three-story, Victorian home when we lived in Stafford, KS. But, man was it gorgeous. It was the kind of thing that's created to appear on The Real World and nowhere else. Owning a (reasonably priced) jacuzzi has been added to the bucket list, by the way. When I'm a grown up.

Someone was selling puppets:

And then we went home. And it was wonderful.

1 comment:

Katie Hurl said...

Hopes, dreams, wishes...
And Miss Havisham. (I laughed at and loved ALL the names for the guinea fowl.) Also, your joy at finding the fried cauliflower was so overwhelming. SO MUCH CAULIFLOWERS!

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