Come One, Come All.

This past week marked the return of a momentous tradition for Oklahomans across the metro-

The state fair came to town.

And though I know it sounds pathetic, I absolutely love, LOVE the fair.  I’ve lived in this mother-of-all-boring-states since I was an embryo, and the one thing that keeps me believing “Oklahoma is OK” is the annual hoopla of dangerous rides, dangerous foods, and seemingly dangerous carnies.

Last year’s visit was one of the most memorable for me (and that’s saying a lot, as I’ve gone at least once every year since the 80’s.  Remember the 80’s?  Oh wait, you weren’t alive yet).   I tried my first deep-fried Snickers, saw the birth of a real-life baby cow, and danced like a maniac during the Hanson concert (remember Hanson?  Oh wait, you weren’t alive yet).  But the thing that made it the most awesome visit ever was the heated arrest of a suspicious looking fellow mere feet away from me.  It was, simply put, state fair perfection.

This year’s visit was comparably unforgettable, but for far less amusing reasons; my heinously unfeeling friends forced me to ride the ferris wheel.  And let me just digress here for a moment…I am many things to many people in this world, but one thing I’ve never claimed to be is a daredevil.  And true, some of you may argue that a ferris wheel rider does not a daredevil make.  But combine my fear of heights with my neurotic awareness of the mechanical instability of state fair contraptions, and getting on the ferris wheel suddenly seems like boarding the Titanic or Hindenberg.

But lucky for my friends I’m a prideful person, and I agreed to get on the Circular Machine of Doom so as to not look like a pansy.  And everything was going okay…I was a little mum and grumpy in line, but there were no tears…until the 7-toothed carnie told me to squeeze into  the teeeeeny tiny ferris wheel gondola with 5 other full-grown humans.  There was not enough room, there was too much weight, I PROMISE YOU we were defying gravity and death by smashing that many people in together…but it was too late to back out, and so in I climbed.

Though my time spent on the Spinning Wheel of Destruction is now a blur, I do remember flipping off my comrade Aubrey as she REPEATEDLY took my picture…and I also distinctly remember my ride-neighbor, who we’ll call “Vanilla Fluff” (as that’s what her fair-bought, personalized license plate read).   Vanilla Fluff was larger than life in all ways possible.  She was singing, and dancing, and laughing, and doing everything else imaginable to make me want to holler DAMN YOU WOMAN, IMA FORCE-FEED YOU A TRANQUILIZER. In reality I’m sure she was a lovely person, but it was the wrong time for the two of our paths to cross.  At one point I recall hearing a loud CRACK, and when Vanilla Fluff screamed, “Oh my gosh, was that the ferris wheel breaking??!”  I gave up on the idea of living to see my 26th birthday and buried my head in my hands to silently await death-by-ferris-wheel-mishap to come.  (I’m glad now to report no such tragedy occurred.)

But I say all this to pose a question.  Every year I go to fair, and every year I tell people how much I love it.  And yet when I get there, I realize it’s really not all that much to write home about…bad smells, bad-for-you food, BAD rides, and bad stuffed animals that I’m pretty sure are filled with sawdust.  But we all keep coming back every year, eager for more of the same mediocrity.  So I ask you this:  Why do we really love the fair?

I bet your first reaction is to answer, “because of the people-watching.”  And true, that’s why most of us think we like the fair.  But when we say “people watching” we really mean “looking curiously upon those who are different than us”…and ultimately we consider those different from us to be weirdos.  Outsiders.  Freaks.

So then, why do the “weirdos,” “outsiders” and “freaks” go to the fair?

Not to entertain us, I assure you.

Perhaps they go for the exact same reason, for to them we would be the strange ones…no?  I’m sure Vanilla Fluff believed me to be a peroxide-headed sissy who was coddled too much as a child, and I guarantee you Arrested Man would have thought the same had his mind not been on other things.

So is this really why we all go to the fair?  To look down upon everybody else?

I’d like to believe otherwise.

I think we go to see different types of people, sure.  But I also think we go for the chance to commune with them.  The fair is one of the only opportunities to be around people from completely different backgrounds without the fear of feeling like you don’t belong.  You can talk to someone from the other side of the tracks, or from the other side of the world for that matter, and nobody cares because hey, it’s the fair.

If you ask me, I say we go to the fair not just to see different people, but to be with them.  Because on some level, we really enjoy it.  Whether it’s the private school prepster complimenting the FFAer’s prize goat, or the aspiring rapper cracking jokes with the carnie, we enjoy being with people who are strange to us…and more than that, we enjoy being able to subconsciously say, “even though you’re different than me, I appreciate that you’re here.”

It’s all about love and togetherness, people.  Is this a great state or what?

I hope you made the jaunt to the OKC fair grounds this year, because there’s no more fulfilling cultural experience west of the Mississippi.  Forget America; the fair is the true melting pot of the world.  But if you didn’t go this time, don’t fret my friends.  The next Great State Fair of Oklahoma is a mere 11 months away.

Much love.

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No Comments on "Come One, Come All."

  1. Anonymous
    02/10/2009 at 3:16 pm Permalink

    Ha ha that is priceless; )

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