Can it really have been five years since we last went to a county fair?
I know we haven’t gone the last two years, for obvious reasons. But further back, my memory fails to confirm or refute attendance.
On one paw, scheduling time to go to a fair has been difficult for several years. On another, fairs are high on our list of priorities. On a third paw, I sometimes have trouble remembering what I had for lunch yesterday, much less a couple of weeks ago; three or four years is hopeless. But on the fourth paw, fair food is…memorable.
So, anyway, there was a Marin County Fair running up until the Fourth of July. I was working Monday, but I was off Sunday; the Fair had fireworks every night, and I had some cash in my wallet. Done deal.
The Fair was stripped down: almost all of the judging was done online and none of the indoor events or exhibits were happening–they’re supposed to return next year, COVID-19 willing.
But there were a few animals, including my favorite plush bunnies.
And the fluffy chickens Maggie likes.
And, while there were a few ducks in cages, there were significantly more of them roaming free.
The Fair’s focus this year was on vendors and carnival rides.
File this one under “Oh, hell no!”
This is a bit more my speed.
Okay, I exaggerate. If I’d gone on any rides, it would have been something in between those extremes. A carousel. Maybe a Ferris wheel.
The food offerings were a bit of a disappointment. Not in FairQuality, I hasten to add, but in cost and accessibility. I didn’t even consider the Lobster Fries when I learned the Fish & Chips I’d been pondering were $22–and the line looked to be on the order of a twenty minute wait just to order. How much of the cost was “Well, it’s Marin,” and how much was “COVIDflation” I wouldn’t even try to guess. And the lines were, I believe, a result of the plenitude of choices. With only one booth specializing in most flavors (fried stuff, bbq stuff, etc.) lines for the popular or unusual were inevitably going to get excessive.
I wound up with “California Fries”: French fries covered in refried beans, melted cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and carne asada. Basically, cross-cultural nachos. Good fair food and quite tasty. We didn’t quite manage dessert. No strawberry shortcake on offer and the funnel cake vendors (both of them) were only selling funnel cakes (and we’re not fond of those). So the only option for true FairDessert–deep fried Twinkies, Oreos, or some other thing that really shouldn’t be deep fried–was that fried stuff vendor with the twenty minute lines. Strawberry crepes might have done the job, but the crepe vendor’s line was even longer.
My arteries are grateful, even if my stomach and taste buds were (and still are) disappointed.
Anyway, strawberry shortcake notwithstanding, fireworks were the main reason I wanted to go to the fair.
We got good seats.
Maybe not quite as good as those people on the other side of the lake, but it’s hard to say. The show was aimed slightly toward our side, but explosions are largely omnidirectional, and the wind was blowing right-to-left, so the smoke didn’t block either side’s view. Call it a wash.
And the show was well worth it. Yes, the long lines, the high prices, the four hour wait on a backless bench–next time I’ll at least take a cushion–and even the traditional painful cold after the sun went down. From first boom, through rainbow arcs and blossoms (it was Out at the Fair day), several different variations on crackly/crinkly/twinkling, to the finale, one of the best low altitude shows I’ve seen.
Inevitably, it’s online. Not from the night we went, and not the best vantage point, but it’s almost like being there. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But if you crank up the air conditioner to chill your house to 40 degrees and full-screen the video, it’s a reasonable approximation.
Bottom line: A well-spent afternoon (sorry). Would go again.
My art is on display at the Alameda County Fair for one more week!
Good to hear. Next year we’ll definitely need to check in before fair season and try to plan to hit whichever fair you’re in!