Friday, September 18, 2009

Tunbridge Fair

We did our annual big fair event, the Tunbridge Fair. For whatever reason they call the Tunbridge World's Fair, giving it an air of cosmopolitan importance, but I'm not sure if it's warranted. Either way, though I'm a bit ambivalent about the whole thing, as far as our kids are concerned, there was no question that we were going to attend. The Tunbridge Fair is a lot nicer (and bigger) than the Balloon Fest because it's the real deal, with lots of animals and farmers, as well as local history. A real fair, to say the least, not a venue to just take your money.

Also, they were doing some school programs, and had included homeschoolers. The bonus was that they were letting schools/homeschools in for free. It sounded too good to pass up, though in reality kids get in free and adults are $5, so we weren't exactly saving a fortune.

Our good friends GK&T are from Tunbridge, and GS is kind of like the unofficial mayor of that town, he knows everybody. Kind of cool to hear all the stories. Since T is in school, she was going with her class and we were going to go at the same time and hopefully see them. The problem is, they started the events around 9:00 AM, and there was no way that we were going to get there on time given the fact that we had to take R to work. So we figured we get there a little later and at least catch some of the shows. Then again, we didn't take into account the fact that I was driving.

I got lost, but in my defense, the situation was ripe for confusion. To get to Tunbridge, you can take the 14 along the river until you get to the 110, which you take east to Tunbridge. The thing is, the 110 makes a loop, sort of, and connects with the 132 which also connects with the 14. The 110 direct is the short way, but the 132 connection comes before the 110 connect. Looking at the map, it sort of made sense to take the first turn you come to, which I did. Unfortunately, this is the long way, and is upwards of 3-4 times longer. It's the scenic route, though I couldn't enjoy the view because I was too stressed out over being lost and the amount of time it was taking. What a bummer. The kids must have thought I was crazy. The road just went on forever, and we were literally out in the middle of nowhere, and there were no signs. I need my navigator R there to guide me.

By the time we'd arrived, it was noon and the shows had ended. AND, they were no longer letting school groups in free, so I had to cough up the $5 to get in. No big deal. The next situation that we encountered was that we couldn't get our unlimited ride bracelets until 3:00, so if we wanted to ride the rides, which was pretty much the only thing on the kids' minds, we would have to pay an exorbitant amount for each time, and that was not going to happen. So we had three hours to kill.

The bright side to this is that it forced us to check out all that the fair had to offer, and it really is an interesting event. We went through the animal sections and checked out the cows and pigs and chickens, then we went to the equipment area to see the vendors, who were nice enough to let the kids sit on the plows and snowmobiles. That was good for at least 30 minutes. We walked all through the fair, something we'd never done before, and by the time we were heading over to the food section, we bumped into GS, whom we were going to meet, anyway, so we were in business.

We sat down to a fine meal of corndogs and lemonade, and before long, K&T showed up, so we were ready. It helps to walk through the fair with a guy like GS because not only is he knowledgeable and enthusiastic about all the fair events, but he knows everybody, and the fair is filled with colorful people. It really adds an unique air to the event, and suddenly there is a story to every situation. GS is a student of the world. Since the kids were now together, they had a blast just running around and trying to lose us. There were three adults, so between us we were able to keep an eye on them, but there were times when it wasn't easy.

We checked out the pig races, which were a scream, and then the horse races, and barn animals (BTW, we saw our Cobb Hill friends, who were doing the 4-H thing), and then checked out the various vendors. By the time 3:00 rolled around, we were ready for the rides. We got our bracelets and the kids were gone. Ran into P&J and their kids, and saw a few of our homeschool brethren, but for the most part, and I'm surprised by this, we did not see that many people we knew. Last year we encountered so many of our friends I couldn't believe it, but this year was not as crazy.

The kids went nuts riding all the rides, and because they were together, it meant that I didn't need to buy a pass and join them. Not only did I save money, but they got to enjoy the fair without me sticking my nose in and nagging them. It's always fun to lose the old folks. After several rides, we decided to check out the antique village, which I wished we'd checked out earlier. It was really cool, a throwback to a simpler time, and a potential learning experience. Reminded me of the prairie homestead with real examples of the tools and materials they used 100 years ago, complete with people in character. Of course, the kids got bored with it and ran off to slide down the hill, but a good time was had by all.

When 6:00 rolled around, it was time to go and pick up R. GS mentioned that maybe it was time to get a second car, but don't get me started on that one. We packed up, got some pulled pork from our favorite BBQ vendor, who BTW remembers my name every time. It's amazing, they are like gypsies, making the fair circuit, and yet remember the people they meet. Kind of special, actually. We also had a veggie burrito to offset all the sugar and fat that we'd consumed in copious amounts. For the record, we finally got to try the maple cotton candy, and brought some with us for R.

I set the kids up in the back seat with their dinner and some drinks, and we headed home, this time taking the short way, which was amazingly short. I was kicking myself for being so stupid. We met R at the bookstore and had desert, then went home. A had a bit of a stomachache, I'm guessing from all the rich food, and I was exhausted from a very long day.

But a great day, nonetheless, though next year, I'll know which way to go. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Josephine Carino for the pic.

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