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Living up in the hills over downtown Ventura, gives me a birdseye view of the Ventura County Fairgrounds. This past week, as I pulled out of our driveway, I saw fair preparations unfolding before my eyes. It’s ready!!!  The ferris wheel is up and lit. The signs are up, directing people where to park. Tomorrow the fair begins, officially signaling the winding down of Summer…but before that happens we have the fair from August 3rd thru the 14th.

We Are Going To The Fair.

Going to the Fair means something far different from when I was a child.

I remember being so excited about the fair….I could not wait to go and along with my siblings, we begged my parents to take us. Our fair was the LA County Fair in Pomona, California. I also remember that the expectation was far better than the reality. I remember the smells of the animals, the endless walking, the heat rising up from the sticky asphalt, the endless rolls of STUFF that was being hawked by some guy with a shrill, screeching microphone and of course the Carnies encouraging you to come spend your tickets at their booth so you could cart away a dying gold-fish or win a huge stuffed animal that wouldn’t fit in the family car already packed with five exhaused kids and parents that had had enough. (Wow, reading that back, it sounds like torture.)  It was not torture. It was fun and exciting…but I feel sorry for my father and mother….

Now that I am an adult…I wish I had the foresight to have spared my father the grief of trying to satisfy five kids at a fair that cost too much money. We could have just gone to the beach again. He worked so hard and really did try to keep us entertained…and that was something he did to appease us. Or maybe I am wrong and Dad enjoyed it…somehow I doubt it. I will have to ask my sisters what they remember.

As a teenager, I still wanted to go to the fair every year. Sometimes I went to the fair with my Mom and sisters (Dad was notably absent) and we would go through the buildings and look at all the doo-dads and whatchamacallits that were for sale. We’d watch the salsa-maker man, the Vita-mix that cost a million dollars make soup, stood in the group to watch the demonstrations of that amazing mop, and let the skin care lady smear us with some cream that was surely going to keep us from aging.  NOPE…it did not work. Some of Mom’s friends always worked at the fair, so we would visit their booth. I believe it was the Touch of Mink booth. It was kinda of fun to run into people we knew.

Once I was married, Randy and I we went to a fair every now and then. When our boys were little, we would take them and walk through the smelly animal section, buy them junk and NOT let them go on all the rides they wanted to go on. History repeats itself.

Then we moved to Ventura.  It’s a smaller fair, situated right by the ocean, so it gets a nice ocean breeze. We run into a lot of our friends and actually go more than once while the fair is running. We have developed our fair rituals….every year we will end up eating the same things.  We get Roasted Corn-on-the-Cob, a Smoked Turkey Leg, a beer or two…and then buy a couple of those great chocolate covered apples.  YUM.

Every year I say I am going to go and eat tons of the fried junk, like fried candy bars, a plate piled high with fried spiral fries covered with chili and cheese, a funnel cake with tons of strawberries and whip cream…and maybe even something weird like chocolate covered bacon….BUT I NEVER DO.  I think I inherited my Dad’s frugality when it comes to spending money at the fair or maybe I am just afraid that all that junk will collect on my thighs and heaven knows…there is no more room for that.

Now that we have Grandchildren…the fair has gotten back it’s Shiny & Bright appeal…now I am seeing it through their eyes. Excitement, music, lights, sweet smells of cotton candy and carmel corn, endless options of food treats, balloons, little blinking, glow in the dark rope strands, and rides to thrill. Somehow, it is now okay for money to be spent on tickets for rides that last 2.5 seconds…This year, we are prepared. I went and bought sheets of tickets for half-off. I actually stood in line to spend money on ride tickets. My Dad would probably shake his head. Grand-kids have a way of making you lose your resolve over certain matters….and I want their memories of the fair to be Shiny and Bright.

Yep…The Fair Is Here!