During one of my middle school bouts of “I didn’t grow up in America, how am I supposed to be a Real American™???“, I decided that on the list of things that Real Americans™ do is attend the state fair. There’s something about the idea of a state fair that seemed so quintessentially American to me. I spent time looking at pictures of state fairs online and sighing over how American they seemed. Despite seeing real pictures, my mental image of the state fair was largely informed by the 1950s aesthetic of the animated Charlotte’s Web movie fair scene, only with less racism, sexism, and talented spiders, and more fried food.
Despite my dreams of becoming a Real American™, middle school me did not end up attending a state fair (although I went to several county fairs, which in my mind did not count).
Luckily, last week I was pleased to find out that the North Carolina State Fair was happening!
I had always assumed state fairs were more of a summer thing, but the weather was in the mid-80s so really what was the difference?
My 1950s aesthetic in mind, I dressed appropriately in a vintage style dress. While it ended up being a great choice in terms of it was really warm out so I was comfortable, I soon discovered that people don’t really dress up for state fairs. In fact, people almost seemed to go out of their way not to dress up. Most people were there in oversized t-shirts and shorts. I wasn’t really surprised, because that’s a pretty good representation of how people just kind of dress most of the time.
After wandering around a bit and being disappointed by the sheer number of animals that I was not allowed to touch (what is the point of having animals if you can’t pet them??), we discovered something even better.
That’s right you could MILK A COW. I don’t know when I decided that I really wanted to try milking a cow at some point in my life or why, but I have low key wanted to milk a cow for years. So it was very exciting to find out that for a mere $3 I could make that dream a reality.
Observations: 1) Milking a cow is easier than I thought, 2) I squirted milk onto my shoe.
There was a lot of award winning produce. I’m not exactly sure how produce is determined to be award winning. I understood the section that was clearly the biggest produce, but otherwise how do they choose what wins? The produce all looked just kind of like… produce.
You couldn’t pet the majority of the animals at the fair, but after looking at the award winning bunnies (again, what makes a bunny award winning? I couldn’t judge an animal contest, I would just give all of them awards for being so cute), there was a bunny you could gently pet.
We didn’t have long at the fair, so I quickly prioritized my goals: 1) Get cotton candy, 2) Play a silly fair game, 3) Ride a ride.
They don’t sell cotton candy on cute paper cones anymore, it just comes in a bag, so here is a picture of some super cute candy apples instead.
I’m not big on crazy rides so we settled on a slower ski lift style ride that went over the fair. It was really neat to see the fair from above and we were also able to scope out the best games to try.
Brennen tried a football throw game. He did not win me a prize. Which is sad because there were Pikachus.
Along with my parents I tried a dart tossing game where you try to pop balloons with a darts. My parents only missed one balloon combined. I, on the other hand, missed all of my balloons, and accidentally stabbed a stuffed animal. I would have accidentally stabbed the guy running the booth too, but luckily he had good reflexes. Instead he just got hit by the dart that bounced off the stuffed animal. My parents’ throws were good enough that we won a prize despite my poor dart throwing abilities (it was a stuffed husky!).
All in all, the state fair was not quite the experience I thought it would be when I was in middle school, but it was fun and I can now claim I am one step closer to being what middle school me would have considered a Real American™!
Stay magical readers!