There’s nothing like visiting a regional fair to cap off the summer. When I was a teenager, it would serve as a reunion for my group of friends, as a last hurrah before school started yet again. Now, out of high school, I still very much enjoy the rides and food (while I’m young, right?) and still feel as though it marks an ending to another sweltering summer.
The heat is most definitely sweltering today. It’s about 115 degrees outside, and I’ve chosen this day to visit the Antelope Valley Fair with my good friend Lola. I instantly regret wearing long pants; I didn’t shave my legs, what could I do? After we pay our admission and make a short lap around the food trailers, we decide to head into the arts and crafts pavilion in search of A/C.
“I’m staying in here until the sun goes down,” I announce.
“Fine with me, I’m buying a Jesus guitar pick necklace,” Lola says, and I’m once again amused by her ironic jewelry choices.
After a sushi demonstration, outdoor swing testing, and crystal figurine-browsing, we’ve knocked about an hour off the daylight and a breeze has picked up, so we venture back outside.
Next on our traditional fair-tour are the livestock barns. We survey dozens of sheep, pigs, and cows, all animals one doesn’t see very often while living in Los Angeles. We then take a quick look at the prize-winning produce, and then decide to fulfill the night’s fantasy of eating a ton of fried food.
Fair food is an institution in and of itself. There’s a plethora of food that cardiologists shudder at; pizza, corn dogs, Indian tacos, funnel cakes, ice cream floats, and a trailer specially dedicated to fried foods that probably shouldn’t be. Under the fried food anarchy, Lola and I both select delicious, delicious corn dog slathered in ketchup, and Lola also opts for a blackberry soda ice cream float concoction. The fried food trailer beckons to us, and we tempt the heart attach gods by choosing a fried Twinkie and fried Oreos. After that, we make the logical choice to ride the creakiest, spinningest rides to test just how iron our stomachs actually are.
We begin our warm night of cheap thrills with a “scary” haunted mansion ride; it lasts about 45 seconds and is possibly the hokiest ride I’ve ever been on, but it is a blast and leaves us giggling afterwards. We try out a couple of other rides (including the burlap sack slide Lola insists on), and I finally go to tackle the Zipper. Looking like it’s held together with duct tape and crazy glue, Lola and I climb on and have the ride of our lives.
Any fair in the United States can be called a tribute to a rural way of life, and to Middle America itself. It’s a tradition that I very much enjoy and will continue to keep as a way to wave goodbye to the summertime and welcome the harvest (I’m sure, somebody, somewhere has a harvest…it’s just not me in Southern California). It makes me feel as though I’m surrounded by farms, not freeways, and even though the fair may be reminiscent of the past; I cannot help but think of the future holiday season and the New Year, and the mystery it all will bring.