(a nod to Skippyjon Jones)
When I was little, my mom took me to the circus. It was Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey. The big top. The BIG Top. Tigers, Elephants, Horses, acrobats, tightrope walkers, etc etc etc. It was huge, loud, amazing, and even then I felt bad for the animals. How could a traveling circus be a great place for those wild, intelligent, dangerous, amazing animals?
Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute. The vendors, the food, the action and excitement.
It was the only time I ever went. I’m thankful I had the experience since that company is no longer, but it’s a relief for future chained elephants.
This weekend a local town fair was in town. Included was a tiny little show called Venardo’s Circus. I looked at their FB Page – as any decent investigator would and followed that up with – say it with me now – Yelp reviews. It looked pretty promising. The prices were a little off putting, but I signed us up. They advertise it as an animal-free circus. My kids have never been to a circus, so I figured it would be a great starter-experience.
I am not willing to shell out Cirque du Soleil money for a six and eleven year old just yet … especially when I myself have only recently seen one show. (O in Vegas)
As I mentioned, this circus happens in tandem with the town fair. The last few fairs I have taken my kids to have been just the three of us. No hubby. He was conveniently out of town on business for them. He is not a fan of amusement. He is a fan of his own amusement, but not others’. He is allergic to crowds and lines. Piggy back that with spending money and we are talking anaphylactic shock.
To his credit, when I spring our weekend event on him he takes the news pretty well. We head out Sunday for some fun and excitement. My daughter has her wallet with her life savings in it ($16) because she is going to WIN. (a stuffy of any kind, but mostly the giant kind that don’t fit anywhere reasonable)
My son has already spent his life savings on game add ons and apps. I assure him we will hook him up with a couple of games, but his sister will have more opportunities. (We don’t do “even stevens” & fair in this house)
We arrive to the world’s tiniest fair. I mean small. Itty bitty. It’s perfect for my husband who is still working on physical therapy and full range of motion in his foot from his December surgery. This gig is the perfect size for him. No reason to openly bitch and moan that walking is a worry. The crowd was non-existent.
First up on the agenda was “rides”. This is always a challenge because our son is not a fan of rides. He does not like anything fast, loud, high, or on a track. That left the fun houses. There were 2. One was a Halloween theme, so my daughter convinced herself it was too scary to walk in.
The happy Casper-esque ghosts and green smiling witch graffiti sprayed across the front of the structure was beyond her capacity. (eye roll)
I’m going to go all grouchy senior citizen here and just interject my disgust at how expensive a fair is these days. “Back in my day” tickets for rides were like $1. The good rides might cost 2 tickets. … maybe. Games were $1. Sure you had to spend around $5 before you won the rock hard lead-filled asbestos-covered stuffy filled with a million beads that would disintegrate a month later dumping beads all over the carpet, but that’s not the point!
Y’all. Do you know what this tiny town fair cost?
Every ride cost 1 ticket (Wow, only 1 ticket regardless of the ride?! That’s awesome!)
Every ticket cost $3.75
The games were between $3 and $5 per try. “But every kid is guaranteed a prize!”
What . the. f&%k ?!
Needless to say we experienced a bit of sticker shock. I am normally one for lots of fun and games and winning the cool stuffies for my kids. Not this day, readers. Not this day.
This was where things got dicey, though. I suffered through wedging my fat thighs and gut into a carnie ride with my daughter because no one else would go with her. Having no shame or pride, I decided to focus on the fun and not the stereotypical look of being the Michelin mom waddling from ride to ride. I endured a spinning gondola, and a ferris wheel death trap.
Did I mention she was wedged in there?
See that grip? We hadn’t even left the ground yet! She had that grip the entire ride.
Sidenote: When these rides do not post a weight limit, it makes me nervous. These puzzle-pieced-together rides that get built and torn down in less time than it takes me to rotate and put away a load of laundry, there is serious cause for alarm for this Amazonian Momma.
Spoiler: We lived. We lived despite the running film in my brain of footage airing on Good Morning America Monday morning: “Mom whale causes town fair Ferris wheel gondola to tip over, causing massive carnage in Washington state over the weekend.”
I was looking forward to shelling out money to stay on the ground and try winning some cheap and soon-to-be-forgotten prizes after all that.
We did the dart balloon thing. Each kid popped a balloon and got a prize. With the same bunch of darts I managed to pop 5 balloons – 2 of which I managed with only 1 dart! The kids each walked away with one small stuffy each.
Onto the water gun game. I kill at this game. I own it!
I paid $6 for my son and I to play, and neither of us won. I did not want to go down without at least one win at this booth. … but alas, we brought daddy coin purse with us and not Daddy Warbucks.
It’s not that my husband is cheap, but when it comes to shelling out money at a fair, let’s just say white-knuckling the wallet might be a better description.
My daughter was willing to spend her entire fortune on winning something big and ugly. The toy didn’t matter as much as the size of it. She was not going to be satisfied until we had to tow a toy out of there for her.
… she left very unsatisfied.
We refused to let her spend her entire wallet on cheap knock-off prizes.
The whining and moaning on the way out did nothing to convince my husband to try another game. (Go figure!) He immediately caught on to how much we might spend on a fair when he is not with us.
This took us to the circus. It was time to be wowed and amazed! For a starter-circus, this was perfect. The ring leader informed us he was also the sound and lighting operator. This lead a lot of mishaps with mic packs and feedback.
There were acrobats, fire dancers, and a strange man running around filling in the space where a clown should have been. This guy had no make up or costuming really, and his tricks were pretty amateur. He was more confusing than amusing, but he served his purpose as a distraction while the performers readied themselves.
The kids enjoyed it and I was pleased at all the “Whaaaaa??” “WOW!” and jaw dropping both kids did.
All in all it was a great day and one I will remember for a long time… or at least as long as the beads stay in the stuffies.
Tell me that’s not ominous.