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Amanda Lamb: Fair days

Posted October 16, 2011

I’m not sure exactly what it is about the State Fair that captures a child’s imagination so vividly. But I know that when the fair comes to town, there’s no doubt that we’re going.

I have never been completely comfortable in big crowds. The anxiety is heightened by having the responsibility of two children in tow. When my girls were younger, I would purposely drive out of my way to avoid the fairgrounds during set-up week so that they might not find out that it was that time of year again. But inevitably, someone at school would let them in on the secret.

“Mom, the fair is in town!” my older daughter would exclaim. “Did you know that? Can we go? Can we?”

“Wow, really? Isn’t that something,” I would say, feigning surprise.

But now, they are much more savvy about it. It is not a matter of if we will go, it is simply a matter of when. They plan their strategies days in advance — what rides they will ride, which parent will ride with them, what games they will play, what they will win. As the big day approaches they can hardly wait. And their enthusiasm only heightens as we walk in the gates. Wide-eyed and grinning from ear-to-ear, they can hardly decide what to do first. Amanda Lamb's husband

“I want to do all of the big scary rides,” my older fearless daughter exclaims.

“I want to win a big stuffed animal,” my younger daughter says pulling on the hem of my T-shirt, pulling me in the direction of a booth with giant stuffed bananas.

“I want to eat!” my husband announces.

And somehow, we do it all.

After more than four hours of fair fun that involved no less than a dozen rides, at least half a dozen games, pizza, nachos, a soft pretzel, corn on the cob and cotton candy, we were exhausted, broke and toting a large stuffed dog and a huge blow-up baseball bat.

The walk to the car felt like miles (because my husband refuses to pay for parking). But when we were finally in the car, I turned on the interior light for a minute to see my two tuckered out girls in the backseat with big smiles on their tired faces. There will come a day when they don’t want to come to the fair with me anymore, and maybe even a day when they won’t want to come at all.

Until then, I’ll grin and bear it like we do so many parenting moments, moments that we quietly dread and then secretly enjoy …

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. Find her here on Monday.


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  • LibertarianTechie Oct 17, 2011

    Don't blame you on the crowds. Never have been a big fan of fairs for that very reason. However, I do love the funnel cakes.

  • Killian Oct 17, 2011

    I have to admit...I am so, so glad my kids have never had the desire to go. I don't like the crowds, and my wheelchair isn't an off-road vehicle, so we skip it. =)

  • katizs Oct 17, 2011

    I go every year with my kids and parents - LOVE watching it through each of my kids eyes over the years - this year they will be 13, 10, 5 yrs old and it is fun listening to what they want to do - I couldn't agree more - I wouldn't trade the memories, pictures or smiles at the end of the night for anything

  • missparrothead Oct 17, 2011

    We only go to the fair every few yrs. The kids love it and we enjoy it as well on a limited basis! To see their eyes sparkle with joy is worth the experience!

  • righthere1234 Oct 17, 2011

    My husband is not a fan of the fair, but he knows how much I and my almost 5 year old enjoy it so he suffers with us every year because he knows it makes up happy. I love love love watching my son's face on the rides, and I will never forget his first funnel cake when we took him on his 2nd birthday.

  • swirlgirl027 Oct 17, 2011

    Aww, I love this! The things we do for our children that become just as much for us when we revel in their happiness.