The L.A. County Fair

027Parents are obliged to provide their offspring with the basic necessities of life.  These would include shelter, nourishment, an education and a day at the fair.  If the fair was merely optional, no parent in their right mind would chose to endure such tribulation.  Whether it be in the midst of the mullets of the Minnesota State Fair or the tatooed Raider fans of the Los Angeles County Fair, it is a bit of a right of passage.  For parents that is.  It is proof that we love our children.  We do what needs to be done, don’t we?

First, we park.  Check that … first, we pay to park.  For ten bucks, one gets the privilege of increasing their carbon foot print just by searching for a parking spot.  The parking lot at the L.A. County Fairgrounds is so huge it should have its own zip code.  Once you’ve parked, you begin the long hike across the asphalt wilderness toward the promised-fair-land.  And it feels like it takes about 40 years.

Once inside the gate, parents are officially done and head right for the 25 cent foot massage machines.  But the sights, sounds and smells of the fair energize the children.  Their first inkling is to mindlessly bolt and disappear into the mass of humanity ebbing and flowing before them.  At first, the idea of losing the kids is a very attractive option for parents.  Then they remember such things as tax exemptions and child protective services and decide to keep the descendents close.  First things first for the old folk….

Food!

And there’s plenty of it at the fair.  Of course there’s the toothache and headache inducing classics that boast sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and glucose as their main ingredients.  But the L.A. County Fair is also heaven-on-earth for BBQ, deep fried, and “on-a-stick” fans.  The only problem is that food is so expensive there, it would be cheaper to just eat your money.  Nonetheless, the smell of hickory wafting from the beautiful black BBQ pits by the Chuck Wagon is just too much for me to resist.  That blessed bastion of smokey love right by White Ave is the best place to sit and eat.  It’s not necessarily about the food, which is pretty good in its own right.  The hardwood smoke mixed with the scent of smoldering mesquite then kissed by the sweetness of grilled corn and caramalized protein just works some kind of mysterious voodoo over your senses.  Everything tastes just a bit better in the immediate vicinity.

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In addition to eating, the most popular activities at the fair include standing in line, sweating, and side-stepping animal poop at the livestock exhibits.  Goats, sheep, and cows abound in an agricultural assembly that would make “Old McDonald” proud.  Fittingly (and unfortunately), Dr. Bob’s Handcrafted Ice Cream is right there by the dairy cows.  Sure, it makes sense relationally, but the overwhelming smell of barn yard naturalism makes for a less-than-pleasant eating experience.  National Geographic has a really interesting book out, The 10 Best of Everything.  They rate Dr. Bob’s as the second best ice cream in the world, right behind Handel’s.  While quite good, Dr. Bob’s doesn’t break into my “fave five”.  We bought a couple scoops each of vanilla bean and dark chocolate, and sampled soy sauce.  Yes, you read that right, and, yes, it’s as bad as it sounds.  C’mon, Dr. Bob, condiments do not make for good ice cream flavoring!  What’s next, ketchup?  Worcestershire sauce?

Well, it’s a nice time with the kids, good exercise and great eating!  A bargain?  Not at all, unless you get free tickets (like we did).  We’re in SoCal, and there’s so much to do.  It’s not like we spend the whole year in anticipation of the fair.  Still, there’s a special charm about it.  Something that tells us to go to the beach or up to the mountains some other time.  Something that makes us overlook the parking and lines.  Not exactly sure what it is, but I’m wondering if that charm goes away when the kids are all grown.

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5 comments so far

  1. Renae on

    I definitely agree with you about the parking lot… We always found it just as far to park at the church or on 3rd street and walk… cheaper too. You could just leave your van at home since you practically live in the parking lot! 🙂 I am not big on the food but I do enjoy the shopping 🙂

  2. Becka on

    Not big on the food, Renae? You’re crazy! Sure, it’s expensive, but…yum!!! I still enjoy going to the fair, but I don’t have kids yet. lol

  3. hauntedlemons on

    Wow, this sure brings back some good memories of my childhood.. I miss those hot Italian sausage sandwiches and homemade lemonade! Thanks *grumbles* lol

  4. janet2000 on

    The eating your money line is great! My fave things to eat at the fair are the deep fried twinkies, funnel cake and smoked turkey legs. So yummy!

  5. jaynepomuceno on

    One of these years I’m gonna try a deep fried twinkie. Those turkey legs are impressive. It cracks me up to see little old ladies walking around the fair with those things.


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