Monday, September 04, 2006

State: Fair

Yesterday, Mimi and I, along with her best friend Ani, Ani’s little brother, Elek, and the siblings’ parents, Lisa and Elod, went to the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe, Washington. The kids rode the Wacky Worm rollercoaster, won inflatable toys on the midway, and ate corndogs and shaved ice; the grownups carried stuff, shelled out money, and tried to keep smiling after discovering the fairgrounds had no beer.

On the one hand, I appreciate the unalloyed money-grubbing consumerism of the fair; the barkers are all about getting their money from your pocket into their own. But it made me sorta sad to see the level at which the game is played. Mimi paid three bucks for “chance” to climb a swinging rope ladder, ring a bell, and win a bike. The carnies didn’t even make it fun for her with snappy patter or clever deception; they may as well have taken her money and told her to run along for all the effort they put into it.

Even the dozens of booths selling miracle home-improvement and cleaning products seemed tired. Usually, there’s theatrical magic in some guy showing off his Ginzu knives or Super-Chamois; yesterday, the only thing remotely entertaining was an old couple hawking flax seed products for health and well-being; that they were both morbidly obese, however, tended to cut into the appeal of their pitch.

I ate pretty well: a couple of corns on a stick, a “Super-Spud” baked potato, hold the “super,” and a bag of fresh-roasted cashews. I was underwhelmed, though, by our state fair’s signature dish, Fischer Scones, which were basically half-dollar-sized doughballs sandwiching a fistful of freezer jam.

Maybe the native cuisine charms of Washington state are harder to capture than those of other states whose fairs I’ve been to; nothing came close to Minnesota’s walleye on a stick, or Wisconsin’s creampuffs; Mimi had a caramel Washington apple that looked good, but there wasn’t a whole pavilion dedicated to them.


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