Less than 24 hours to go!! It’s the FAIR! It’s the FAIR!!

I think I have everything ready. I have my tickets, parking passes, camera, purseable sunscreen, extra Tums, sunglasses, pedometer, and Fair schedule all sitting on the kitchen table. I still need to stop by the grocery store and buy a big bottle of water. TIP: I learned last year that it is much cheaper to bring your own water bottle and refill it at the various water fountains throughout the Fairgrounds. I recommend going into the Events Center to either the fountains near the bathrooms in the back or ask the nice people at the Clark Public Utilities booth if you can fill up your bottle from their free, tasty supply.

So in just mere hours, I will be frolicking for what I consider the Ten Best Days of the year. Some of the things I am giddy about:

The animals. I love looking at the goats and the sheep and the rabbits and the cows and the pigs and the chickens and the cavies (which my suburban self used to call guinea pigs) and especially the llamas. YAY llamas! I also look forward to the Chicken Dress-Up Contest and watching the 4-H kids present their animals both for showmanship and conformation. The obstacle course for dogs is also quite fun; I wish they had one for cats. Wouldn’t that be a hoot? I suspect any cat who managed to complete just one obstacle would be in the running for Grand Champion.

The auction. The market auction on the last weekend is also fascinating. We have never bid on anything intentionally (there was one close call a few years ago when I waved to a friend across the arena and almost came home with a beautiful sheep). But it is really interesting to see what comprises a marketable (or, edible) animal. It is also heartwarming to see all the hard work and commitment the kids put into raising their livestock pay off…literally.

The events. I love, love, love rodeo stuff and cars smashing into each other. So my favorite events in the grandstands are: barrel racing and bareback riding (Monday, August 6); Mutton’ Bustin’ (little kids riding sheep — how adorable is that?) and bull riding (Tuesday, August 7); and the Demolition Derby (Thursday, August 9…note, NOT on Friday as in many years prior). I saw that this year’s Demo Derby is also going to have a truck round AND an RV round — whoo hoo!! Years ago my husband and I saw a combine demolition derby. It was very slow and lumbering and the combines sort of came apart in sheets. I suspect RVs are a better event — they can go a lot faster than a combine and I’m anticipating they make really cool crunching sounds. Here’s a schedule of free Grandstands entertainment.

The 4-H exhibits. I was too suburban and disinterested as a kid to get involved in 4-H. My mom told me lots of fun stories about her 4-H days as a farm kid in Idaho, but I was too busy with my Weeble Wobbles and Atari game console to care as much as I wish I had. Boy, did I miss out. As a much wiser adult, I am now so impressed by the art work, photography, quilts, and clothing produced by 4-H kids here. Last year one teen girl made jeans — with pockets and rivets and gold stitching and everything. I was blown away. I also love looking at the place setting and collage displays. While I am not entirely clear on the concept of either, I love seeing the creativity and reflections of personality.

The vendors. Although I rarely need a hot tub or a new mattress or stuff that cleans my floors/windows/shower/feet, I always enjoy browsing the vendor booths in the Events Center. Sometimes I walk by trying desperately not to get sucked into a sales pitch. Other times I actively engage in conversation out of some curiosity but more to give the sales person something to do. More often than not, once the pitch starts, other people stop to listen and I can extricate myself largely unnoticed. I will admit I have purchased a few things over the years — purses, mustard, a vibrating back pillow (it goes unused these days as I don’t have enough dental insurance to replace all the fillings it seems determined to shake loose). But the best thing about the vendor booths…other than being inside where it is air-conditioned…is the FREE SAMPLES. Jerky, jelly, mustard, taffy, fudge, oil and vinegar. The vendors are more than happy to let you graze and get a little snack. Mmmmm.

The FOOD! So free samples are awesome but you know what is even more awesome? Fried stuff. Fried Oreos, fried Twinkies, fried pudding, fried cheesecake, and last year’s huge find: fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. OMG — heaven! Trust me. And then there’s the corn on the cob and the Irish Sundaes and the corn dogs and the Pad Thai and the Dairy Wives milkshakes and the Church Ladies homemade pie and the elephant ears and the chocolate-covered strawberry kabobs and the BBQ ribs and the Hawaiian shaved ice and the Lions burgers. Yes, the truth is, I eat my way through the Fair. This is one of the many reasons I go multiple days — so I can pace myself and not leave anything uneaten. Fair Week is very special to me because it is the one time of the year that I drop all of my self-imposed food rules. For ten glorious days, I ditch the salads and Greek yogurt and Lean Cuisines and indulge without self-talk in grease and sugar and fat. I will admit that at the end of last year’s Fair Indulgence, I felt horrible. Icky. Bloated, greasy, headachy, lethargic, nauseous. But after about a week of healthy, more responsible eating, my system was back to normal and I was counting the days until TOMORROW! So be prepared for food reports. Lots of ’em. And probably some photos along the way.

You might have noticed I left a few things out on my list. I don’t have kids and my back is often rather cranky, so the only time I spend in the Carnival is when I am looking for cotton candy. I also found out a few years ago that I am not a big fan of big trucks or the big noise of tractors being pulled. I may wander nearby those events this year but they aren’t on my Must Do List. I also don’t have any plans to attend any of the concerts in the Amphitheater. I have embraced a lot about living here but unfortunately, country music is not one of them. I am sort of curious about the Texaco Country Showdown competition on Sunday, August 5, though. The Clark County Fair has the distinction of being the venue for the Washington State Finals for this competition that sort of sounds like “American Idol” for country music. The winner from Sunday’s competition gets to represent Washington in Nashville to compete for $100,000 and the title “Best New Act in Country Music.” Past winners have included Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus — I’ve heard of them! So I might check that out, especially since it is free. I like free.

And speaking of which, I will see you at tomorrow’s FREE PANCAKE BREAKFAST and FREE ENTRY (by 11:00am) — thank you, Fred Meyer! Look for me — I will be the one eating.

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