My kids live in Central Florida, so they’re used to some serious amusement parks: Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens, Legoland… even SeaWorld.
They still love the county fairs, with their flashing lights and jangling music, not to mention the ever-present (and always delicious) smell of grease and sugar.
As we walked into the Volusia County Fair on Sunday, the barkers called out to us.
“Shoot the star! Win a prize! You can’t miss!”
“There are three of you. One of you is almost guaranteed to win the water gun race!”
“It’s easy! Just put the ball in the hoop!”
“I think I can do that one,” my oldest son said.
“These go in the category of things you pay for yourself,” I said. Both the boys had remembered to bring their wallets, and each knew exactly how much money he carried. “If you want to play, go for it. It’ll be fun.”
“Oh,” he said, glancing at the “$5 a throw” sign. “I think I’m good.”
We started out running from ride to ride, then walked, then sort of meandered.
“Can I get myself cotton candy?” my oldest asked.
“Of course. Go crazy!”
He didn’t quite go crazy, but he did get fried macaroni and cheese to go with his cotton candy.
His little brother asked for a piece.
“Nope,” I interrupted. “It’s fair food.”
They both looked at me.
“Fair food is crazy good and stupid expensive. You never have to share. Well, you will once you start dating, but unless there’s a girl involved, what you buy at a fair is yours.”
“It is really good,” my son said, chewing on a fried triangle of macaroni and cheese. “And it did cost six dollars.”
“See?” I said. “Fair food. If you buy it, you get it.”
“But you always share with us,” my youngest son said.
“You can always share if you want to,” I explained. “You just don’t have to.”
“I can have an Icee?” he asked, looking at a “One price gets whatever you want!” sign.
“It’s Fair food,” I said and soon he was filling a paper cup with all rainbow of nearly fluorescent colors.
After a little more deliciousness, we wandered over to the shows and exhibits. The chicken contest didn’t hold our interest too long, but we did discover a grizzly bear show that was fantastic, kind of like watching someone play with his pet golden retriever, except instead of a dog, the pet was a bear.
The sun set, and I called my wife, who’d been stuck working.
“How about meeting us for dinner?” I asked.
“I’ve got to keep working,” she answered. “but we have leftover ham in the fridge. If we don’t eat it soon, it’ll go bad.”
I shared this news with the boys. They glanced at each other, then pulled out their wallets and ran to the nearest food vendors. Apparently, leftover ham can’t compete with “Gourmet Grilled Cheese” or “The World’s Best Macaroni and Cheese Hot Dog.”
But hey, it was Fair Food, and they bought their own. Who was I to argue?
I grabbed myself a “Hot Fresh Authentic Grilled Cheese Steak”, and we walked over to watch the frisbee dogs practice.