Well once again the Kansas State Fair has come and gone, and that allows me to take a slight detour from outdoors stuff and write about the sights, sounds and smells of the fair. And also once again I’m reminded of some very important life lessons; under no circumstances do knee socks of any description ever look good on any man wearing shorts (which my wife has been stressing for years,) that wearing both suspenders and a belt with shorts looks even dorkier than wearing both with long pants and that purple spiked hair does not really look that cool on a fat, fifty-something man. I do have to give fair attendees kudos this year, as I saw very few wearing anything resembling PJ’s, I guess that fashion statement is reserved for Wal-Mart. I try not to judge anyone on their appearance, but there are just some things certain people should not wear out-and-about. Jeff Foxworthy has said “If you ever begin to think you have a dysfunctional family, go to a state fair!”
New to this year’s fair was the butterfly exhibit, a long narrow tent with a row of nectar-producing plants inside, and monarch butterflies by the dozens. As we entered the enclosure we were each given a small foam paint brush slathered with nectar and instructed how to feed the butterflies with our brush. The ones we saw looked so happy and satisfied feeding on the plants, we didn’t bother them. The attendant inside was telling us how a man the day before had, against her advise plucked one off the netting covering the ceiling of the tent leaving one of its legs behind in the process, and she was still quite upset over that. I’m not sure I could be that passionate about monarch butterflies, but I guess if she wasn’t then she shouldn’t have that position. After the fair, all the monarchs they have will be released to join their annual migration to Mexico.
In this day and age there is no food group immune to being deep fried and/or put on a stick, and a state fair is the mother-ship of deep fried foods. There were deep fried peaches, deep fried butter (someone please tell me how they accomplish that) and deep fried Twinkies (which just seems a waste of a good Twinkie) among others. New to the deep fried menu this year were deep fried deviled eggs and deep fried mac-and-cheese which I tasted and found to be pleasing. Available on a stick were Monkey Shine Ice Cream (an old standby,) pork chops, meat balls and prime fillet alligator (or so they claim.) Given the amount of road kill along the roads these days, I was afraid to try their so called alligator. My favorite “on-a-stick” food remains the Moink Balls, comprised of beef meatballs (the “mo”) wrapped in a slice of bacon (the “oink.”)
Next stop, the all enchanting commercial buildings with their bags of free stuff. In this magical kingdom, we could get our glasses cleaned, our shoes cleaned and our blood pressure checked all for free. This year, if the mattresses and massaging recliners for sale had been missing, half the buildings would have been empty. The freebies included pencils (which we gathered by the dozens to be used for our Operation Christmas Child shoes boxes,) pens, cups, frisbees, fans (which are no longer plastic but cardboard,) note pads, fly swatters (of utmost importance at our house) and plastic spring-clips to hold your chip bags closed or the weekly recycle schedule on the front of the fridge. Joyce’s favorite freebie this year, which she actually had to win by spinning a wheel and correctly answering a question, was a collapsible water bottle that resembles a small hot water bottle with a drinking spout on one end. There in “freebie land” I could have bought the last mop, the last ladder and the last set of cookware I’d ever need (it makes me kinda’ nervous when they put it that way, like they know something about my future I don’t.) I was truly interested in a garden hose nozzle in one booth, as I go through hose nozzles like Kleenex. The booth seemed empty with no one tending it, but as I looked at the nozzle, a guy in the booth next to it who was peddling a rig that sliced, diced and maybe tied your shoes too, began to talk to me, asking if I wanted to see him demonstrate the nozzle. When I asked him the price, he refused to tell me until I listened to his spiel. I guess my next hose nozzle will come from Harbor Freight.
Possibly my favorite pastime at the fair is reading T-shirts and this year had some winners, including
“I have the Right to Remain Silent, I Just Don’t Have the Ability.”
“I Believe every form of Wildlife has its Place; Right next to the mashed Potatoes and Gravy”
“The only thing that should come between a Hunter and his Meat is Bread”
And my absolute favorite, which I found on license plates, shirts, signs and several other places, was “I Kneel for the Cross, I Stand for the Flag.”
Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors!
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]