Even more than his birthday, perhaps, Cole has been excited for the last two weeks about going to the fair. And it turned out to be one of the few things that seemed to live up to the hype in the mind of a preschooler. Actually, both kids loved it. The adults, too. It exists somewhere between cheesy and authentic that makes it hard not to smile. Saturday morning I did my usual 25 mile ride, came home to get ready, we ran some errands, then headed to the McHenry County Fair....
Stuck right there in the middle of the fast food and strip malls along Highway 47 is the McHenry County Fairgrounds. The animal barns are across the fence from a Panera. Very amusing. We parked our car early enough that few of the booths weren't open yet, but a steady stream of people was entering. The parking was free and we'd printed off an online coupon for $2 off each admission...the kids were free. The entrance area is a grassy field that is where the carnival section is--games, most of the fair food, rides. So we had to navigate the hoses and cords along the path with the stroller to get to the main hub of activity.
It was the typical mix of commercial tables, crafts, lemon shakeups. An area for tractor pulls and an area for horses. The local county Tea Party had a table (I was waiting for them to stop me to let them know they were barking up the wrong tree) and one of the Democratic candidates for Governor was talking to people as we left later.
Cole was there for the animals and boy did we ever deliver. We walked past a long row of antique tractors to get to the barns and then asked what he wanted to see first. It was goats and they were a huge hit. We spent a long time going up each row saying hello to each goat. Petting them, watching them, listening to them "meh-eh-eh." Leda never met a goat she didn't love and she was crouched nearly on all fours sticking her head between the fence posts to touch them. Cole would wait for one to stick its head out, laugh and dance, pat it on the head, then run away to the next one.
After goats, we decided to wash hands and grab some fries and a lemonade. Then back to the animals. The sheep, sadly mostly had blankets on if they were wool. And the meat sheep are all shorn with painted numbers on their backs. The cows were giants and intimidating. Some of the largest dairy cows I've ever seen. The signs said Holstein, but these were easily twice the size of my uncle's Holsteins. Their shoulders at my head and long! Cole wasn't enthusiastic about the pigs and a little scared. We all like the bunnies. Chickens and ducks, on the other hand, he was excited about. But after the goats, I felt like we needed a little pep talk before going in the poultry tent. I warned him to stay away from cages because they have beaks and claws. The ducks and giant geese were popular. They had beautiful doves and roosters and hens of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Though it was the turkeys who nearly did the day in. One bird in particular gave Cole a tiny peck through the bars that brought tears. We regrouped though and refused to let him leave the tent until he saw some more chickens. Trying to get the point across that animals should be respected and neither feared nor abused. The day also brought some "farm kid" lessons about the usefulness of animals. Eggs and milk...and nuggets and Thanksgiving dinner.
We ended the fair with a corn dog and elephant ear...and me clarifying to Kelly the difference between that and a funnel cake. The booths were offering the option of a powdered sugar elephant ear which further confused the matter. Elephant ears get cinnamon sugar!
On the way home, we stopped off at the Pearl Izumi Factory Store where I picked up my early birthday present. Got a pair of long tri shorts and a tri/bike jersey. I know how outlet places work and I was prepared for the worse. I really feel like the merchandise should be discounted more than it is sometimes. Saving $10 is really like a sale at normal retail or what you can find online. Some of their stuff wasn't even discount at all and was essentially full price. But, then again, the jersey I found was about half off. And the shorts were probably $20 off...marked down to the same price as the super "on sale" basic shorts making it a no-brainer that you get the nicer product if they are the same price. I saved about $70 so I can't complain too much.
Sunday morning was our family bike ride at the gardens in gorgeous weather and everybody had fun and was well-behaved. So I'm not holding out much hope for Cole's checkup at the doctor today. I'm prepared for the worst and hoping for the best. Then it's home to pack and get ready for our road trip tomorrow.