Monday, September 3, 2007

A Day in the _Life_: The State Fair

Yesterday we went to the Minnesota State Fair for the fifth time since having kids. Max and Mitchell were super-sweet fairgoers. Hardly a fight or a squabble the whole day. I'm sure the copious amounts of spending money, rides, and junk food helped boost their good behavior levels.

We left home just after noon in accordance with our can't-help-it, late-start tradition. During the ninety minute ride to the Fairgrounds in St. Paul, the boys ate fast food, listened to favorite family memories, and played their Game Boys. As we passed the Koch Refinery near Rosemount, where smokestacks dot the horizon and pungent smells fill the air, Mitchell teased, "Roll the window down! Roll the window down! It's the Stinky Factory! Mmm, smell that delicious stinky smell." He also claims, with a completely straight and serious face, to love the smell of 'kunks, as he calls them.

The day was rather expensive:

$70 for gas and snacks (we didn't eat all the snacks nor use all the gas)
$10 for Arby's (we had a coupon for a free value meal, which reduced our total by $7)
$30 for admission (two adult tickets, one child, and one free ticket for Mitchell)
$9 for parking
$10 for cheese curds
$2 for cotton candy
$9 for three iced teas
$15 for dinner at the fair (Italian dunker, deep-fried ravioli, and cheese bread)
$6 for two bags of mini donuts (Mitchell requested his own bag)
$5 for a small bag of apples and two apple-cider freezies
$65 for rides and games (50 coupons for $30; most rides and games cost 4 - 5 coupons)

Ouch! I'm not going to even bother doing the math tonight to add up those expenditures. In the middle of the afternoon, when my allergies were at their absolute worst, I told Troy that we should have used the money we spent at the fair, and paid for a night in a hotel with a really fancy waterpark and a bar.

Max and Mitchell loved their time spent at the Kiddie Midway. They both drove the mini bumper boats, which Mitchell was too scared to ride on last year. They also went on the mini race cars, which jerked around the corner much faster than any of us realized. Mitchell was delighted to discover that his favorite ride _ever_ was back at the fair: four-wheelers that bounce up and down as they go around. He insisted that Troy ride with him, just like when Mitchell was a new two year-old, so Troy squeezed into the back seat and Max and Mitch rode up front. The little boys also went on the bumblebee ride, complete with bubbles and controls to make the bee fly up high or close to the ground. Each of those rides cost four coupons per person, except for the race cars, which cost five. Max was thrilled to find a coupon on the bumblebee ride, and he decided to save it for a souvenir.

This year, we explored several buildings filled with amazing things to see, included the agriculture building, which houses exhibits on seeds, prairie gardens, apples, Christmas trees, grocery items made proudly in Minnesota, a motorized train exhibit, and flowers; the Education Building, where we got the free purple bags from the University of St. Thomas that we saw everyone carrying; the Creative Activities building, where we admired quilts, baked goods, beaded projects, historical artifacts, and my favorites, the paintings made by school age children. We didn't have time to visit the 4-H building; the green building, filled with exhibits about environmentally-friendly products and practices; or the vendors inside the grandstand.

Just before dusk, we at dinner at an Italian booth near the grandstand, Vescio's, with locations in Dinkytown and St. Louis Park, ordering our favorites: a giant Italian egg roll (Troy's favorite), deep-fried ravioli (Mitchell's favorite and mine, too), and cheese bread (Max's favorite, but we told him the pepperoni under the cheese was really salami). Then we headed toward the Midway to end our day. I protested briefly (actually, I really complained and thought, I can't believe we are spending $60 on Midway coupons today!) as Troy bought more coupons for rides and games. The three boys took turns playing games and going on rides.

Mitchell wouldn't have even noticed when it was supposed to be his turn; he was so content to watch everything, but when he wanted to do something, he _really_ wanted to do it. His two requests for the evening were to play a game of skee ball (he lost two of the wooden balls and couldn't throw them hard enough to land them in any holes, so I let him walk up the ramp and try just a few feet from the target) and grab a duck at the duck pond. He won two small puppies, one at the duck pond, and one at the whiffle ball game. Troy and Max rode the bumper cars; Mitchell wasn't quite tall enough yet to pass that 42" mark. Max also tried the whiffle ball game in which players try to land the white plastic balls in colored cups to win a prize. Since the prizes were so good in the boys' eyes (huge, oversized stuffed dogs) we wasted money on two buckets of rings and tried to land them on glass soda bottles.

The highlight of the evening was Troy's wins at the crossbow game. Years ago, before we were married, he obtained a disability permit (I still tease him about this, since he was only considered to be three percent disabled, due to a back injury) to hunt with a crossbow. Using a crossbow, he shoots with perfect aim, even at the fair, where the arrows are bent and the bows shoot to the right or too high. He won three huge stuffed animals in six tries: a colorful dragon for Max, to be buddies with the dragon Troy won two years ago from the same game; a "yellow cute ducky" that Mitchell wanted sooo badly; and a pug to keep Minnie company.

We returned home just before midnight, with a sleeping Max in the backseat, and a very chatty Mitchell, who asked over and over again to please go back to the fair _right now_.

No comments: