Childhood, Redux

A fair bit of my childhood wasn’t terribly happy so I take every advantage of opportunities to behave like a child whenever possible! When my pals Angelica and Allison invited me to come to the Alameda County Fair with them this week I was so happy, I love fairs! Where else can you feast on great junk food, ride a Ferris wheel, play games, see livestock, rabbits, chickens that look like Phyllis Diller and see the winning onion, model mission and quilt?

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The Alameda fair is new to me, and to Angelica, and I think out of all the fairs I have the pleasure to visit it is by far the best. The fairgrounds in Pleasanton is an older space, lots of mature shady trees, cute outbuildings and stages, a charming wine garden where the garden clubs exhibit, lots of ponds and tons of exhibit halls, even one just for model trains! Walking through the fair in the balmy warm summer sun with a perfect breeze we could have easily been in Iowa or Kansas, instead of just outside San Francisco.  I expected to see square dancing and girls in bobby socks and boys with James Dean hair.  People were friendly, courteous, easy to join in with a quip and banter, and polite teenagers.  This is most unlike other fairs in the Bay Area.  We parked easily, paid our $10 and immediately started snacking, Allison, the junkfood expert and recent attendee, knew all the best places.  We were her willing victims! All in all our little gaggle of girls consumed an enormous amount of goodies with relish:

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…..two huge rootbeer floats with Mug rootbeer and soft serve vanilla ice cream, a creamy strawberry shortcake, crispy sweet onion rings, fried ravioli with a tomato sauce dip and tons of parmesan, a savory barbequed tri-tip sliced thinly into a hoagie, a home-made chicken sandwich, three corn dogs (easily the best corn dogs on the planet with a savory juicy dog and sweet corn bread and completely ungreasy), a slab of homemade chocolate cake, two refreshing Hawaiian shave ices (bubblegum and piña colada flavored), a double soft serve vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate, five chocolate dipped strawberries on a skewer, various samples of fudge, caramel, chocolate dipped cherries, a fresh, hot cinnamon bun – all washed down with waters, Dr. Pepper and iced tea, and a partridge in a pear tree….

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(The world’s best corndog, the amazing soft serve ice cream stand, Hawaiian ices, Angelica eating “one of the small ones” – wink wink)

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Can you say sugar high? I believe our eye balls were jiggling in their sockets.

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Thus drugged, we skipped our way every exhibit hall on the lot, and they had many: four halls with items for sale, the fiber and food hall, the garden and flower hall, the rabbit and chicken hall, the model railroad hall, the environmental display/Japanese pond hall, the 4-H hall and the gem and jewelry hall. We sampled candies, got a foot and back massage, tried out makeup and mattresses, watched the ShamWow’s cousin, saw lots of cookware demonstrations, tried various heat/ice packs and pain removing gels, bought sheets (a Queen set for $20, 650 count cotton sateen!), tried on bling – you name it, we tried it.

First Place Monster Zucchini
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(The winning zucchini in the Monstrosity category, it’s amazing, it’s ShamTastic!, garden club exhibits, and winning green beans)

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We watched the Alaskan baby pig races and rooted for Hairy Porker, Strawberry and Sloppy Joe. These tiny pigs were so cute and hilarious, and apparently hate to be held. I am deaf now in one ear from the squealing. The pigs raced around a wood shaving filled track eagerly to their reward of a full food bowl at the end, talk about motivation!  They even got to race over miniature hurdles. I had no idea a pig could vault over a hurdle. Amazing… We watched the doggie races and saw 9 different little dogs race around a tiny track with a Ricky Bobby hairpin turn. Amazingly, I won a Frisbee at this event as I was the only person in the crowd who knew the names of Higgins’ dogs in Magnum P.I. Do you know? (see the end for the answer). We watched jugglers and barkers, little kids, and a real horse race. Would you believe the 8th race started 5 minutes after we arrived at the track, and one of the horses was named Allie Cat? Well of course our Allie Cat had to place a bet and strangely the planets must not have been in alignment because Allie Cat placed fourth, but Allie Cat will always be to us.

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(Doggie races, Heather’s winning Frisbee, the balloon ride from the former Neverland Ranch, a great bunch-o-prizes, “The horses are on the track!”, where and what is Indiana Downs?)

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We watched a cow judging contest with the 4-H kids wrangling and walking their price steers around a ring. I have never seen so many glossy and clean cows, they positively gleamed. Many pigs were said hello too, and I couldn’t help but think “look, bacon of the future” at each specimen. One young lady was cleaning her pig because it got into a fight and was all scratched up. Pig rumbling. Scary. The mother pig was the scariest of all. This poor lady was exhausted, too tired to even lift a head, piglets everywhere worrying at her irritated teats then collapsing in a drunken food coma. The prettiest sheep were on display and only one llama, I was hoping to see more but alas. The petting zoo was great fun, I bonded with a kid and watched the small children chase after and pet everything from deer, the lone llama, sheep, goats, baby pigs and a roo who was happily ensconced in a duffle bag in lieu of mom’s pouch. We heard and only slightly cringed hearing young girls imitating Whitney Houston on stage, American Idol, damn you for all the Karaoke now inflicted on an innocent ears! How can a 11 year-old have a vibrato you can walk through? Hmmm.  Rather reminiscent of the little pig racer’s vocalizations! But that is unkind.

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(Kids and kids, the LL <Lone Llama>, more piglets, baby deer and Roo, mmmmm – future bacon)

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After the sugar well and truly settled in, we girded our loins and subdued our embarrassment went down the Giant Slide. The view from the top was slightly exhilarating and intimidating. We screeched all the way down and collapsed at the bottom in a fit of giggles until the attendant brought us abruptly back to reality with a sober “Thank you for coming, Ma’am.” Ouch. We are old ladies here. Ignoring this reminder of our advancing years we proceeded to the arcades and played games – won some and lost some.

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(Roo’s mom’s day job, view from the top – eeeee, Yes I am tall enough to ride)

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Allison made a new friend, we don’t know where she picks them up.

Allison's new friend

(Anyone know what kind of bug it is?  We convinced her and ourselves it is non-poisonous.  Kudos to Angelica for the bravery for the bug-ectomy.)

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Eventually the shadows were growing behind the exhibit halls and our sugar buzz started to fade so we bid the fair farewell until next time. What a perfect summer day, with friends and with a great deal of fun.  Thank you, ladies!

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(The Frisbee winning answer: Higgins’ Doberman’s were named Zeus and Apollo!)

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