Last weekend (the 20th), my sister and I braved possible meltdowns of epic, sleep deprived proportions, to take my 4.5 year old son and almost 2 year old daughter to the Iowa State Fair.
Murphy might have followed us there, but was thankfully distracted by the beer tent and the day far exceeded all expectations.
Distraction is Best
Lil Diva was in awe of the fair, from the second we entered the gate.
“Wow. Dad dropped us at the most boring part of the fair,” my sister said, as we walked by trailers and motor homes, into rows of tractors.
The words were barely out of her mouth, my agreement on the tip of my lips, when The Tackler went crazy.
The Unexpected Hit
For him, the row of tractors was the holy grail of coolness.
You could climb into them, some over a story tall, and for a four and half year old boy, it was the best thing. Ever.
My sister and I tried to stifle our yawns.
We spent at least thirty minutes amid the various farm vehicles before we lured him away.
That’s Not Nemo
There an aquarium of sorts, right where I remembered it, full of the dull and drab colored fish from Iowa’s lakes and streams.
No clown fish allowed.
For the kids, it didn’t matter.
“Dish! Dish!” Lil Diva pointed, always too excited to form the sound “f”. “Nemo!”
“Mommy, that’s a really big one!” The Tackler said, as a huge fish lounged at the bottom.
I had to tear The Tackler away from a replica of an eagle’s nest.
“But I want to climb in the nest, Mommy!”
“Sorry, sweetie. It’s for birds only,” I said, as I thought how it really was the perfect size for a preschooler.
Luckily the turtles and geese in the pond allowed us to distract him from the tempting nest.
Petting Zoo #Fail
We moved on, to what I – in my infinite wisdom as a former fair visitor and first time bringer of young children to the fair – deemed would be the highlight: the kids petting zoo.
A zebra, goats, buffalo, turtles, and other animals were in the tent, tiny shovels strung up to feed overpriced pet food to the animals.
“Mooooooommy. I want to leave. I don’t like it here.”
“Mommeeeeee. I want to go.”
The Tackler kicked up the whining in the crowd as I tried to show off the animals to Lil Diva, to get either of the kids to help me.
No one was interested, though I did get them to watch me feed the animals.
It was like I was eight years old again.
My sister and my cranky kids had to drag me away as I was forced to give the last of my food to another parent.
Nap Where You Can
The yummy smells of food vendors teased us, so we decided to have an early lunch. My sister found pulled pork, I had a hot dog, and The Tackler ate his PB&J I’d brought with us.
Lil Diva promptly passed out cold, her cough blessedly silent.
She slept for 30-40 minutes, longer than she probably would’ve at my mother’s, given any movement to lay her down set off The Cough.
Our “healthy” food consumed, we went in search of fair junk food. A taste of delicious tiny warm donuts were only shrugged at by the Tackler, so we passed on them for my childhood favorite: the elephant ear.
He only ate a little, as my sister and I devoured it as we navigated the wall of people to the event she had to see: The Stunt Dog Show.
When Dogs Fly
The show did manage to entertain my kids – Lil Diva happy they remained at least five feet away at all times as she inhaled her lunch in the bleachers.
But this is where we began to bake. The day was beautiful, warm, but not hot. Except when you had to sit in the sun for thirty minutes.
Watching the dogs fly through the air, jump rope, and catch Frisbees was awesome, but left the kids a bit overheated and cranky when the show ended.
A butterfly tent stood next to the show’s ring, so my sister took The Tackler for a look (it was $5 a person, and I found it a bit steep for three of us to walk among butterflies). I assumed The Tackler would be as unimpressed with the butterflies as the petting zoo.
I was wrong.
The tent will filled with butterflies. Everywhere. One landed on The Tackler’s shirt, not realizing how perilous such a thing could be with a boy who loves to smash.
Or maybe it did know something. Because according to my sister, he was in awe of it, as it hitched a ride through most of the tent while relaxing on his shirt. It wasn’t until he was forced to shoo it away at the end, his new friend left.
He wondered about his “friend” for the rest of the day.
To be continued…. in Part 2
Do you ever go to your state fair or equivalent?? What foods can’t you miss?