Today, I went to the fair. No, really. My wife had mentioned wanting to go yesterday and I’d answered her with a “Sure, sure.” – you know, the kind of response you give an acquaintance who suggests getting together for coffee some time. Sure, sure. So imagine my surprise this afternoon when she took that “Sure, sure.” as some sort of agreement on my part and actually expected me to accompany her to the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition, Vancouver’s take on carnival rides, funnel cakes, and petting zoos). What could I do? I’d said “Sure, sure.”. I ended up going with her.

When we finally drove up to the place, we were informed that both lots were full. Fortunately, a kindly neighborhood resident took pity on us and allowed us to park behind her garage For only twelve dollars. A five block walk and a fifteen dollars entrance fee (each) later, and we were just about inside. All we had to do was circumvent the lottery kiosks. “Hey!”shouted one woman , trying to snag me before I hit the turnstiles. “How’d you like to win a house?” “Already got one,”I replied without breaking stride. Seriously. What am I going to do with two homes?

Wading into the sea of humanity.
Wading into the sea of humanity.

The crush of humanity was headed in the general direction of the rides, but we weren’t there for the tilt-a-whirl or the whirly-gig or that thing that takes two full minutes to rattle up to the top and then all of five seconds to plunge back down to ground level. We were there for the food. Or, more specifically, my wife was there for the foot long hot dog with nine types of onions she’d seen on t.v. the other night during a local news report. Nine kinds of onions? Okay, off the top of my head: Spanish, Vidalia, green, Walla Walla, uh, small, medium, and large. What am I missing? Well, whatever they are, they were missing from Fondy’s foot long dog as well when she finally got one.

Really only one kind of onion.  And I didn't have a tape measure with me, but I have my doubts the dog was actually a foot long.
Really only one kind of onion. And I didn’t have a tape measure with me, but I have my doubts the dog was actually a foot long.

The lack of onion variety left a bitter taste in her mouth which she attempted to chase with the sweetness of a cinnamon and sugar dragon tail (aka beaver tail, aka fried up hunk ’o dough).

Sweet, salty, greasy, and fried - you've got four of the major food groups covered right there.
Sweet, salty, greasy, and fried – you’ve got four of the major food groups covered right there.

Then, we strolled the grounds.  I have never seen so many World Wrestling Federation t-shirts in one place.

I stuck to my eating plan and resisted the urge to sample some of the fairground culinary offerings.  This one in particular, however, was an enormous temptation.
I stuck to my eating plan and resisted the urge to sample some of the fairground culinary offerings. This one in particular, however, was an enormous temptation.

We wandered into something called The Marketplace that wasn’t so much a market as it was an auditorium filled with every late night t.v. pitch you can imagine: shammies and steam vacs and portable detox saunas and healing crystals and super garlic graters and stain removers and massage chairs and contour pillows and psychics.

Among the freebies giving away was this whitening treatment.  Looks like fun!
Among the freebies giving away was this whitening treatment. Looks like fun!
Hmmm.  Not sure where he sources his merchandise, but I suspect a circa 1953 remainder bin.
Hmmm. Not sure where he sources his merchandise, but I suspect a circa 1953 remainder bin.

By the time I walked out of there, I was feeling as though I’d sat through two weeks worth of infommercials.

Yeah, I'm not sure either.  And neither is the lady in the left hand corner of the picutre.
Yeah, I’m not sure either. And neither is the lady in the left hand corner of the picutre.

On our way to the exit, we stopped to check out the sand sculptors displays featuring the works of some of the biggest names in international sand sculpting (I kid you not).

Fondy's favorite.  She was particuarly fond of the jellyfish.
Fondy’s favorite. She was particuarly fond of the jellyfish.
Pretty impressive.  I'm surprised they start with the intricacies at the top and work their way down rather than the other way around.
Pretty impressive. I’m surprised they start with the intricacies at the top and work their way down rather than the other way around.
All great but this one was particularly unique.
All great but this one was particularly unique.
No doubt the crowd favorite.
No doubt the crowd favorite.
I liked this one a lot.  The artist is Brazilian.
I liked this one a lot. The artist is Brazilian.
Monstrously accomplished.
Monstrously accomplished.
I liked this one a lot too.
I liked this one a lot too.
The artist at work.
The artist at work.

 

Yet another artist at work.
Yet another artist at work.

We also stopped to check out the not quite as impressive but no less entertaining “can” sculptures (Hey, it’s Wall-E!) before heading back to our parking spot.

Can globe.
Can globe.
Can Marvin Martian.
Can Marvin Martian.
Can Wall-E.
Can Wall-E.

As we strolled up the alleyway, we saw, Selma, the woman who’d rented us her parking spot out on her front porch. “Hi, Selma!”called Fondy as if hailing down a long lost friend. “Did you have fun?!”Selma shouted back like she genuinely cared. “Yup!”my Fondy answered her.

I’d learned my lesson.  I kept my mouth shut.

63 thoughts on “August 29, 2009: My Day At The Fair. No, really.

  1. Bwhahahahaha! Every year folks, family, and friends try to con me into going up to the state fair. I’m going to have to print out your blog to show them why I decline. And you didn’t even have to deal with livestock displays. Nothing like the effervescent smells rolling out of the barns to add extra zest to the not quite foot long dogs or the bbq made from the brother in law of the porker or bovine you’re staring at. As far as the sand scupltors go, I suspect many of the ones there will be over here at the end of September for the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival; some of the designs look familiar. Now, off to hide my WWE t shirt collection before anyone notices….

    @otros. No WONDER we enjoy each other’s sense of humor. I do the prehospital thing, so I can grok your view of things medical and doctoral, as well as our interests in sci fi.

  2. Haha your fair sure sounds like fun. 😀
    I’m now officially craving a dragon/beaver tail (although there’s a different name for them here, I just can’t remember it!), and our fair isn’t for another four weeks. No fair!
    Aww, how cute to make a can-compactor character out of cans! And OMG that’s totally Johnny Depp in that sand!

    I’m all moved into my apartment, yay! And it has WiFi (at least for now) I can borrow! Even bigger YAY!!! School starts on monday here. 🙂

  3. Wow those sand things are amazing!!! Hope you had a good time Joe, post later, got a huge announcement at my church tomorrow and I got to wake up in less than 5 hours. Lol goodnight!!

    Thanks so much,
    Major D. Davis

  4. Looks like you had a great time…deep fried mars bars…another import from Scotland…give them anything and they will fry it…LOL…and I am not kidding my brother went there on holiday and I am trying to remember what he gave them fry…damn it has gone…

    Kriss 🙂

  5. @Thornyrose Some of my best childhood memories are associated with the Flemington (NJ, USA) Agricultural Fair and its assorted smells.

    Which reminds me, are the double balloons, one inside the other, still made? My earliest fair memory is of looking up at a clear balloon containing a rabbit-head-shaped balloon.

  6. Hi Joe,

    Nice pics from the fair. If it’s not too much of a bother my friend can you please answer my question from yesterday if you are doing a mailbag… Thanks buddy

  7. You are so funny! Oh what fun. You can’t beat the sights and sounds and the food at a fair! The food pictures looked yummy! I’m sure you are going back Sunday to find out who won the sand contest? I vote for the one with the monkey sitting on top. It looked the hardest and most detailed. The girl with the animals is second. Admit it. You really had a great time. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Joe, I stopped by for a quick read and found that I was shocked that you couldn’t name 9 types of onions.

    This year we grew: Vidalia’s, Yellow globes, Red Wethersfield, Tokyo Long White, white Portugal, Sweet Bermuda, and Walla Wallas. Then of course there are the wild shallots that grow all over the place. There you have 9 onions just in my yard.

    There is also 7 types of tomatoes in my garden including the Little Heirloom Yellow Pear tomatoes you mentioned in your last Fuel commentary. They are tiny, sweat, and perfect in taste fresh from the vine and heated by the sun.

  9. Joe – next time, eat the Mars bar, you’ll have a much better time. 😉

    The sand sculptures are beautiful! I love events like that – if it’s free. We have a Farmer’s Market ‘fair’ every Tuesday – music (different bands each week – all have been fantastic), fresh farm produce (hey, we live in the Garden State!), food vendors (the Carolina-style BBQ pulled pork is my favorite), crafters, ‘antiques’, local enviromental groups, wine tasting, and a few other things. It’s where I’ve purchased all my fresh-baked bread this summer, my raw milk cheese and nitrate-free bacon (the brie is to die for!), andouille sausage, fresh fruits and veggies, apple butter & sweet tomato butter, and a bunch of other yummy stuff.

    People spread out blankets around the bandstand, or sit at picnic tables or under shade trees…and it’s wonderful. It all happens on a very small piece of land behind our firehouse and municiple building…and attracts a lot of folks. Best thing I’ve done this summer is stopping there each week and buying goodies. This week, besides food items, I bought a wooden Chinese cabinet for $8 – cleaned it up and it’s lovely: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v54/dasNdanger/booksnstuff.jpg

    I just have it in my reading corner for now, until I figure out a better place for it. But right now I kinda like it there with all my little trinkets. Mom got a free bag full of dead pig…lol…she asked the guy for the crackling, and he filled a bag full of the leftovers from the grill – bones, meat, crackling – everything. My mom’s been in heaven all week! She’s such a redneck sometimes. 🙂 And she’d give you a run for your money, Joe…food-wise. She’ll eat anything – very adventuresome…unlike her wimpyass daughter. 😛

    Oh well, took way too long with this…better call it a night. Have a good one, sir, (or, a better one) and next time don’t be such an ol’ curmudgeon! Poor Fondy…however does she put up with you? Or are you charming with her, and just whiny on this here blog o’ yours? (Of course, we’d have you no other way…you’re like cranky ol’ Todd without the good hair and extra nostrils. 😉 )

    das

  10. I would think they start at the top so the excess sand from sculpting can flow down without ruining the work they had already finished.

    As for two houses, one could be sold and the proceeds go towards a “Foie gras float” that you can drive down the street to anger the activists.

  11. Oh, forgot…Onions: Spanish, Vidalia, Bermuda, Walla Walla, green (scallions), shallots, red onion (not Bermuda), pearl onion, white onion, yellow onion.

    Oh, wait…I think that’s ten. *shrugs* I’m sure there are more. I can eat an onion like an apple – I love them! French onion soup – onion rings – fried onions…or just a raw onion slathered with French’s yellow mustard…mmmmm!!! 😀

    (I bet you just threw up a little in his mouth…)

    das

  12. Hey Joe,

    What a good egg you are! I personally love fairs. I would love to go every year, don’t, but would love to.

    You really were quite the gentleman. I am sure your wife was happy being able to share the event with you. The pictures tell a story of a fun adventure. The sand sculptures were an added bonus, if not for you, for us.

    Don’t you at least sometimes lay there at night thinking, didn’t want to…but I’m glad I did?

    Best to you Joe
    Cheryl

  13. I remember getting lost in the hall of mirrors at the fair, and then I started freaking out and saw myself laughing.

  14. From 28th August blog mailbag:

    AnneTeldy writes: “ People can only travel one way through a stargate’s wormhole: planet of origin to destination. What happens if a person crosses the event horizon going the wrong way: destination to planet of origin?”

    Answer: The gate will spit them back out.

    Then what happened to the MALP in “A hundred days”? =/

  15. Aww, the sand sculptures are cool! I also love snow or ice ones. Just where we come from, right?lol (Iowans probably prefer their butter sculptures.)

    That hunk of dough looks AMAZING. Now I’m hungry again…sorry to hear about the hot dog, though. Although, I can’t imagine eating 9 different kinds of onion. One kind is usually good for me.

  16. Coucou Joseph!

    Contente de vous voir sortir un peu^^! Sa fait toujour du bien =D

    Cette foire à l’air trés sympas, il y a beaucoups de jolies sculptures!

    En tout cas je suis contente de vous voir prendre un peu de repos =)

    Bisou Bisou
    Bonne journée!

  17. I hope that hotdog didn’t give Fondy indigestion. :mrgreen:

    The info-commercial tent should have been avoided (or set fire to) but at least the sand sculptures and tins were good.

    What did you eat? Or did you go hungry?

  18. You never really know what you’re going to get at events like that. I’ve been to two state fairs in two different states; one was lots of fun — great bluegrass music, interesting activities, and a decent variety of fresh, tasty food. The other fair was a waste of the time I could have spent putting change in those little paper rolls that bank clerks are always so thrilled to see.

    If you went the whole day without grousing at all, I’d say Fondy’s pretty lucky — not a comment on you personally, but on a few experiences I’ve had with this one guy (geez, I passed him in the hallway not that long ago; you’d think I’d remember his name).

    Thanks for the profusion of pics. The sand sculptures are pretty cool, even if my pragmatic side says that the boatman’s oar broke, and nothing else was intended. They all would be worth inspecting at some length. – Oh, FCOL, you know what I mean. . . .

  19. @Thornyrose – So do you work pre-op? Do you have to get up at like 3 a.m. to get to work on time? And is it true that there’s a secret word for getting a *really* warm blanket before they take you back to the meat freezer? – LOL, I really shouldn’t say anything, since I couldn’t do your job. In school, an ICU nurse looked on as I tried to do a venipuncture — the patient’s veins were sclerotic and rolled all over the place, and I wound up getting an artery instead. The nurse was actually pleased rather than furious – said, “Stay right where you are! We need some ABG’s!” I’ll never forget that. So there are good reasons why I work psych, but med-surg nursing theory still interests me.

    I’ve gotta read Stranger in a Strange Land. . . .

  20. Yeah, I’d have stayed away from the food too. I just don’t get the combination. Not to mention the HUGE rip-off part. Opps, that sound like that happened to you before you even got close to it. Now you just need to take Fondy with you something you love and she rather not go to.

  21. Gah, I’m “doing the fair” tomorrow, Monday, Wednesday and the following Monday. *shudders slightly*

    I have a feeling I will return needing a good stunning(I’m *working* in the petting zoo) and a long hot shower. Neither of which I’ll be able to accomplish thanks to our wonky water heater and the lack of handy stun guns.

    On the bright side at least I get to check in with Silver my dear sweet goat who was bravely shuttled off to be tortur–petted by the masses of humanity that wander through our corner of the fair.

  22. I actually LIKE the animal displays – despite the smell – and don’t recall the infomercial displays so I often go to the county fairs, but haven’t been to the state one in years. Butter sculptures are just not worth the drive.

    However, I wanted to speak of the sand sculptures. I accidentally clicked on a sand sculpture competition on television and found it riveting. If all competitions followed the same rules as that specific competition, I would be inclined to watch more of them.

    Every two hours during the competition, they drew the name of one of the competitors – and blew up their scupture.

    The competitor then had the remaining time to rebuild whatever they wanted.

    The randomness of the lottery, the explosion of sand, and the chaotic innovation of the competitor scrambling to create something new – how can live TV be better than that?

    The winner was someone who had to rebuild from about the halfway mark – so NOT getting blown up didn’t mean automatic victory.

  23. ROTFLMAO! Love the sand sculptures. I suspect the “foot long” dog was measured by a bloke 😉 you gals know to what I’m referrin’ right?
    Some places you go to just so you can appreciate going home again dude, I reckon this was one of ’em:)
    Keep smilin’

  24. Joe, you have my sympathy. I generally steer clear of crowds these days. But when my kids were young I would take them to the County Fair which takes place in mid-July every year. In addition to being crowded it is always unbearably hot. I hate crowds, but it was kind of fun to see all the kids with the animals they had raised at the 4-H livestock exhibitions. But the cotton candy, elephant ears, corn on the cob and butterfly pork-chop sandwiches were always the best part!
    Now, instead of going to fairs, I head to things like Strawberry Festivals, Apple Festivals and other celebrations of food!

    Nice sand sculptures. Thanks for sharing the pictures. And I’ve also enjoyed the SGU set pictures you have been posting.

  25. Well that was a refreshing change. Loved the sand sculptures and can thingys. I wouldn’t eat a hot dog at any fair. Last time I had one I was sick for days. Mind you the same thing happened when I ate a crepe…maybe its just me!! Thanks for the pics Joe. Looks like you guys have some nice weather over there. It’s lovely and wet here for a change. Spring starts on Tuesday and I wish it was winter for another month or two. Take care Joe.
    Cheers, Chelle 🙂

  26. I love it when my husband TELLS me what his opinion REALLY is. Those passive aggressive sighs he gives me and the “That’s fine”, when I ask his opinion drive me crazy! We’ve been married for 16 years and he should know by now I DON”T DO SUBTLE! Sorry for yelling; Pet peeve of mine. Good of you make a day for your wife!

    Hope every one has a good day!

    Tam

  27. You missed the “yesterday’s left over” onion. I hear that one is considered something of a delicacy in a lot of hot dog joints.

  28. @Thorneyrose, Does that mean “MEDIC”?, know that one well. Hubby was one for 30 years before being injured on the job- firefighter. I was a medic for 10 years also, still work as a nurse- 28 years and counting! Crappy Dr. speak, will they EVER teach them to communicate with patients in med. school? Doubtful!! … Sheryl

  29. Good morning Joe,

    Out here in farm country, 4H county fairs dominate the last weeks of summer. More about animals and competitions, a little less of the “marketplace” sort of thing. I do admit to eating a hunk of deep-fried, sugar-coated dough last time, though.

    Anyway, we had our get-together yesterday evening, and the bacon-wrapped dates went over very well! Many compliments, and not a single date left. I suspect that we’ll be seeing more of them at future parties.

    Only thing my husband and I might do next time is get ourselves some more thinly-sliced bacon. Our bacon is locally raised and butchered and it tends to be pretty thickly sliced. Tasted just wonderful with the dates, but it was a little challenging to wrap. Skewers helped. 🙂

    My family and friends asked me to send their regards. Thanks for the recipe!

    “Gen”

  30. We took the kids to the fair last weekend and we did much the same thing. Except the food was much, MUCH worse. Funny thing was one of the carney’s was arrested for allegedly dealing drugs out of her game booth, right next the one being run by the county District Attorneys.

  31. Here in Ohio, what you call dragon tails we call elephant ears. Same food groups, though.

    Stopped going to county or state fairs years ago. Couldn’t take any more greasy fried veggies with watered-down hot sauce. And the carnies who run the games and rides look ever more starved, stringy, and dangerous, or maybe I’m just getting old.

  32. The kids adored carnival rides and did 4-H when younger so we went every year, these days not so much, its more horse shows now.
    I always explained, one funnel cake and one deep fried Mars bar isn’t going to bust any plans.
    DD

  33. @otros and Sheryl: I’m a paramedic. Also teach ACLS so work with the nurses a lot too.
    @suziebluefeather. I’m actually in Colonial Heights, south of Richmond. We’re practically neighbors.

  34. @RebeccaH: THAT’S the word I was looking for! Elephant ears! Here I am 12 hours later, and I’m still craving them! I wonder if there’s a way to make them at home?

  35. Hey Vidalia onions really are world famous. 1st I see a UK post and now u in Canada. I live in famous little town. I’m new to posting but have been reading for almost 1-2 yrs. Really enjoy it- your blog is part of my daily online routine- email -> your blog. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

  36. Rebecca,

    Thanks – I was trying to remember what we called those things in Ohio – Elephant Ears!

  37. Does ANYONE live near the LA fires? How are things and what is going on? Boy someone is always having to deal with mother nature. Let us know and good luck!!.. Sheryl

  38. I went to a festival, too, except I parked at my house, crossed the street, and ducked under my neighbor’s apple tree to get there. Parking and admission were free, anyway.

    She didn’t charge me anything and she’s going to let me take her apples to make applesauce.

    I finally had fried Oreo’s and Snicker’s, but there’s way too much belly dancing going on over there. Right now, the drums are driving me batty and, if I ever hear Sheek Shake Shook again, it’ll be too soon.

  39. Mmm, deep fried Mars bars. They’re friggin’ awesome. Those sand sculptures are awesome. Jack Sparrow, yay! Wall-E and the globe are cool looking too.
    We get a fair here every year in Aug, and it’s total lame duck. Waste of money. It also sucks because we live right across the fairgrounds so we hear all the noisy carnies and the like.
    Thanks for all the SGU pics! Little over a month left, yay!

  40. Faraday Joe,

    As a buffer, I am interested in learning how I can be brought into the Stargate Universe and brought up to speed. Perhaps you have a role, a part that a fat, red headed, tula, from the Hill of Terra (214) inspired by the Stargate stories and expansive potential you guys present to mankind. I am a “transparent” person, awakening to the cardinal flair that transposes me.

    Sounds pretty fluffy! Ugh.

    I’d like to get involved and take part in the discovery process on a much more advanced level than I can find for myself. Any help?

    L

  41. Well it looks like it would have been fun at the fair…so long as you weren’t there for hours (which, I believe, you were). Still, those sculptures sure were cool.

    Amz

  42. Nice fair pictures, thanks Joe. I only go to the fair for the funnel cakes and cotton candy as my hips will testify to. Are those cans empty or full?, thats a lot of collecting to make a pretty.

  43. Too bad you didn’t enjoy it too much, I think it’s fun! You have to adjust your expectations a bit. It helps that I have two little kids too. We’ve lived in Indiana for a couple of years now and the IN state fair is pretty good. Future Farmers of America always has a cool section for kids. This year there was a playground with wood, PVC tubes, and all sorts of trucks so you could build things, a fake kitchen and garden, and animals to feed. My kids just loved it. Then of course there’s the food. We call the cinnamon/sugar thingy “elephant ears”. I don’t like them (I’m more of a funnel cake type of person myself), but the hubby and the kids do. I really like the corn on the cob, though. Did they have that at yours? Or is it because I live in the corn belt? Then of course there are the rides, but the kids are still too small for most of those (and their favorite one was down for repairs when we went. Bummer).
    Fairs are different where I come from (Belgium): they’re just in the street and there is no admission price. Of course the one I went to every year in Brussels is in the worst neighborhood of town. But they were so much fun. And the food! Oh the food! So yummy 🙂 So many good memories!
    The worst part about them, though, is that it’s always so damn hot and muggy and you end up spending way too much money.

  44. Does treating us to a visual essay have anything to do with practicing your still-shot storytelling for an upcoming comic book?

  45. Deep-fried Twinkies! You should have a feature just like the Weird Foods one you had a while back. It could be “Deep Fried” and you could experiment on foods that should never be deep fried, like Twinkies. Someone said that they’re good. I go into sugar shock if I had one.

    Oooh, nice sand sculptures.

  46. Heard something about Fired Oreo cookies in the paper. That would be interesting to try.

    Those sandcastles are cool. Saw the Pirate one in the newspaper as well.

    Wanted to go see Rick Springfield the other night. But had to work!!!

  47. Yo! I just read an interview with David Blue on SciFi Wire, and now I’m more excited than ever!

    Quick question… when we watch the premiere on October 2, should we view it as if Extinction has already taken place, or the untitled SG-1 movie has already taken place? I know SGU stands alone, but it’s still one franchise, one creature to me. For example, we didn’t know when Continuum took place until it was referenced at the beginning of Atlantis season 5. Until that point, the assumption was that it was in “real time”, but Atlantis revealed that Continuum was released before when it actually took place in “real time”.

    Essentially, when the Atlantis and/or SG-1 movies come out, will we find out that they actually took place long before or after it’s DVD release? I’ll survive if not :-), just curious.

  48. Hi guys! Guess what? The daughter called from England today and decided her Cocker Spaniel, Molly, who has been living with us for over a year, will be better off staying with us permanently! I felt happy for us, sad for my daughter, but mostly, really happy for Molly because she’s truly at home here. I was dreading October (when she was supposed to be going to live in England), so this is a huge relief. Molly and Elway are very close, and I was worried how he’d handle her absence.

    Joe, the fair actually didn’t seem too awful, and I did enjoy the lovely picture you painted of your Fondy.

    Otherwise, just subjected Mr. Deni to Donnie Darko – he actually enjoyed it. Lazy Sunday, ate too much, didn’t get much done – perfect! Now, “Defying Gravity” and a pot of tea!

    Have a great week everybody!

  49. Were you tempted to see if you could pull one of the cans in the globe out and still get it to stay put?

    Interesting fair. So, why didn’t you catch public transport. Probably would have been less hassle.

    Cheers, Chev

  50. I can certainly attest that deep fried anything is too good. I shared some deep fried Oreos with my wife on vacation last week and I don’t think I’ve had a hot dessert that was better in recent memory.

  51. I think half the fun of going to the PNE is the nostalgia from being a small child at the fair. So I go maybe once every five years to maintain that… otherwise yes, giant infomercial. Last years highlights? Seeing a water buffalo; a type of mushroom called “chicken of the forest”.
    Also, the Spirit of the West concert was awesome!
    T-minus 4 years til my next visit 😀

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