WRAL.com at the State Fair

Oh You Animals

Posted October 23, 2005

I have never in all my years of going to the Fair gone in to see the tent animals. You know, the animals declared to be the biggest that and the smallest this and other marks of distinction. You pay some money -- usually a buck -- and get in to see them. C's been to see them, and she said it was fun, so away we went this week to a whirlwind tour of odd animals.

After breakfast our first stop was The Giant Horse. I want to know where they found Bigfoot to compare him to the giant horse (see the tent.) We paid our money and were ushered in to the giant horse, who has a giant smell, and found him serenely eating breakfast. He was a really really really big horse.

We looked at him for a few minutes. He ignored us. We left. Not an auspicious beginning, I thought.

Next to the giant horse is Hercules the unicorn cow. He wasn't awake yet. A little way up the hill is the giant pig. He wasn't awake yet either. We went over to the breezeway between the Expo Center and the Jim Graham Building and visited the Giant Steer.

I don't know the mechanisms by which these tent animal exhibits are organized, but the Giant Steer people were the nicest we encountered. They were putting out the hay bale and pumpkin decorations for the start of the day, and they said hello to us. We paid our money and went in to see the Giant Steer. (I'm not going to put pictures of the animals themselves in this entry -- it'd spoil it for you. But you can see the top of the giant steer in the background of the tent.) The giant steer had a large clean stall and was also having breakfast. The only thing about him was that he was really, really huge, and while he was surrounded by iron bars it was too easy to imagine him realizing that he was a GIANT STEER and busting out. C was nervous about walking behind him as we left the tent, and I don't blame her.

Intimidated by the Giant Steer we walked out of the breezeway and took a right to the side of the Jim Graham Building to the Smallest Horse. Paying our money we walked up the steps to see a very small horse. I'm not sure his feet were the size of silver dollars, as the recording says, but he was a small, handsome horse. He stood there and looked depressed. I felt bad for him.

We decided to take a break from the animals for a minute and go down the midway to visit the Snake Lady. The Snake Lady is, as the exhibit notes in small letters painted almost the same color as the tent panels, an "astounding illusion." A girl's head on a snake's body. We went in to the tent and there indeed, was a girl's head on a snake's body. She stared straight ahead, looking almost as bored as the animals had. The pitch outside the tent says, "She will answer all your questions!" but the only question I could think of was "Doesn't your nose itch?" which would be mean, illusion or not.

So we skipped it and went to -- GASP! CONTROVERSY! -- the other World's Smallest Horse, which is next to the Snake Lady. Which one was smallest? I'd say this one. It was also a little happier looking. Perhaps it was plotting -- several signs warned quite severely not to touch the smallest horse, as it would take a small but painful chunk out of you with a bite.

Our whirlwind tour was winding down so we decided to go see if the unicorn cow and giant pig were awake yet. First stop, the unicorn cow from the great state of Wisconsin. We paid our money and went in the tent to see him. His horn is a bit twisted and looks like it might be uncomfortable, but he didn't seem to mind. He was sitting down, chewing his breakfast, and made eye contact with us for a few minutes while he spoke to him. We didn't talk post modern literature or anything, but we left that tent feeling much better than we had after leaving the Smallest Horse.

Finally we went to see the Giant Pig, and in retrospect I'm glad we left this one for last. He isn't in a tent, he's in an open-air construction. You pay your money and go up what is frankly a rickety set of stairs to a rickety platform where you see...

.. I don't remember clearly. I remember a lot of pink pig body moving around at the bottom of its stall, and some pig noises. Most of that was overshadowed by a pig smell which seemed to take up the entire universe. Realizing why they hadn't put this pig in a tent, I glanced over the rail and seriously considered bailing out over the side. Things were complicated by the fact that ten thousand people had at the same time decided to see the Giant Pig. Or maybe it just seemed that way. Eventually though we were able to get down the stairs and away.

It was fun, and I'm glad C talked me into seeing the tent animals, but never, never again for the Giant Pig. No way.
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