Unless you've been avoiding all social media, or haven't seen the 30-minute Hanna-family infomercial I directed for OWN, the Oprah channel, you already know that the Eastside Gang had a pretty great Siskiyou Golden Fair.
We kicked off fair-season a day early and Dylan and I went over for the officially-unofficial heifer, steer, goat, and lamb weigh in. This is the day when all the livestock exhibitors bring in their animals and get a sense of how many marshmallows they'll need to feed Daisy that night so it'll make weight the next day. It's a lot like a MMA weigh-in, with fewer men in chonies and more fights. Dylan got the job of reading off the digital scales to the contestants (or, usually, their mothers). It was great watching her be a part of the fair machine. I shoved, tugged, and begged the livestock into the scales and Dylan (with the help from another board member) quietly read off the weights. Emphasis on quietly. There was a lot of 1 ... 3 ... 2 ... ... ... 2? And a lot of, "What did she say?"
The evening shows are what our kids love because they get to stay out past their bedtime and they get shaved ice for dinner. Grady got a one-day stomach flu and had to miss the rodeo (more on that later), but was there for his favorite events: Tractor Pulls and the Destruction Derby. The Tractor Pulls were new this year and are exactly as they sound. Tractors and trucks pull a lot of weight across the arena. Some make it all the way, most don't, and some break down somewhere in between. To make this event, um, more exciting, there are motorcycles doing stunts. Grady's mind was blown at the first flip and he didn't stop grinning until we had to leave to avoid suffering permanent hearing damage.
Regina took the monkeys over early on one day to see the sights and let the kids go nuts in the carnival. We somehow talked Dylan into not playing the goldfish game by reminding her of the pile of dead goldfish the last 3 fairs have yielded. Besides, her Sea Monkeys are alive and growing, and pet-competition would be unhealthy. When I showed up that afternoon the kids, and Regina, were very excited about the Exotic Animal Petting Zoo. They even got to pet a fuzzy armadillo. I questioned Regina and she just shrugged, "That's what the lady said it was." I had to see this, so we went back. Of course, there was no fuzzy armadillo to be found. There was a real one, you know, with a hard shell, but nothing else. Did it escape? I asked. We pondered this as we checked out the monkeys, snakes, lizards, and, oddly, a possum. (In an exotic petting zoo? Welcome to county fairs.) Regina started laughing. There it was: the fuzzy armadillo. Someone, maybe she didn't even work there, or maybe she was bored, convinced my family that a common possum was an exotic fuzzy armadillo. I love that person.
The highlight was, of course, that Dylan won the Siskiyou County Mutton Busting Championship! You can get the entire 3-hour story if you happen to wander within earshot of me. I've been boring everyone with it, but I can't help it. We were so proud. The short version is that Dylan qualified as an alternate, got the chance to ride, stuck to her mutton, and came home with a buckle and a black eye. The eye has healed and she wears her buckle proudly, even with outfits that don't have belt loops. We'd been listening to Tanya Tucker's, "Rodeo Girls Don't Cry," in the truck all summer and afterward, as she was trying hard to wave to her grandparents in the grandstands and to not cry, she told me, "I just kept thinking, rodeo girls don't cry, dad." So badass.
Our local fair is a great one and this year it gave us so much: a new appreciation of possums, a champion rodeo buckle, and even a second-hand high in the Winema Hall men's room. We'll hang this one up as great and will cherish the memories, unless we wander back into that men's room, then we won't remember a thing.