Monday, April 02, 2007

Fun At The Winter Fair!

In Brandon we have two major fairs. One is the Summer Fair, which usually happens during the second week in June. This is your standard carnival type of fair, with the midway of rides. The other fair is the Winter Fair, officially known as the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair. This one is more of an agricultural fair. Featuring many prestigious events for horses and cattle. This fair is always held in the last week of March. If you are the observant type you will have noticed that our winter fair and our summer fair happen in the spring. What's with that?!

Last week was the week of the winter fair and I decided on Saturday (Grand Finale Day) that I would take the kids. That's right I took a 9,7 and 4 year old out to one of the biggest events in town on the busiest day possible!

Our adventure began just after lunch at around 12:30.

We pulled up to the admission booth and I announced that I was paying for one adult, two kids and an 'under 6'. The girl at the booth must have felt sorry for me because she didn't charge me for the two kids admissions. This is a great start.

We then pulled into the parking lot and managed to get a spot that wasn't way out in the middle of nowhere. Even better!

From the van we headed to the building. This gave #3 a chance to step in a few good sized puddles on the way in. We made it inside and into the arena with very little difficulty (it was still early). My initial plan of action was to simply get into the main arena and once we were there we could figure out our strategy.

Luckily we arrived just in time to see the Super Dogs performing their frisbee routine. The Super Dogs are the main attraction for our household. We got ourselves seated nice and close and watched the show. At the end of the performance I found out that the Super Dogs were going to be performing their full routine in one hour. At this point I decided that we would just stay in the main arena until then.

The kids each had $5 to spend at the fair and it was already burning a hole in their pockets. They NEEDED to buy something. We headed up to the concourse in search of snacks. The crowd had gotten noticeably thicker since the last time we were up there. The kids set their sites on an ice cream stand where they were featuring waffle cones at the bargain price of $3 each. It turned out that one of the guys I work with was running the stand and he hooked us up with our cones for half price. Thanks R!

Armed with two "Smarties" (this is a Canadian version of the M&M) and one "Cookies and Cream" we found a couple of seats for the draft horse show. The kids then spent the next half hour eating their ice cream and pointing out the 'butt holes' of each and every horse that passed by.

When this show ended we went back up to the concourse to dispose of the ice cream refuse. While we were there I picked up a bucket of popcorn. Back down to the closest seats of the arena to watch the barrel racing. This was pretty cool for the kids. The highlight was when one of the horses took one of the barrels too fast and it's legs flew out from under it. Nobody was injured but it was very exciting.

Next came the Super Dogs! The kids went down and sat on the boards around the arena for a close up view and I remained in my regular seat. While the dogs did their thing it suddenly dawned on me that I was sitting there clapping and laughing by myself. What a freak! The end of the show consisted of a relay race between two teams of dogs. Each team represented one side of the arena. Our team was the "Hot Dogs" the other team was the "Cool Dogs". This is the time when they really try to get the audience pumped up and participating. First they got the other side to wave their arms in the air in time with the music. At this point I was thinking, "There is no way in hell I'm doing that." Then the emcee stopped the music and pointed out 3 ladies on the other side who weren't participating and after making a spectacle of them made them stand up and do it. Needless to say, when they got to our side my arms were waving wit much gusto!

Since the Super Dogs was the last show on the afternoon program we decided it was time to go to the petting zoo. I looked up at the concourse and saw the slow moving mass of humanity and decided that we should probably wait a few minutes. We made one attempt to leave but ended up going back and waiting a little longer as the crowd was too thick. If I were alone I would have leaped in but I never would have made it out of that crowd with all three kids intact. Eventually we entered the stream of people and worked our way to the petting zoo. And I mean WORKED. Every ten feet or so we would come up behind someone with a stroller, or worse yet a double stroller, who had decided to stop and talk to somebody or gawk at some cowboy hats or something which created a massive bottleneck. This has the same effect as damming a river. All of these people would suddenly have to funnel through a space wide enough for one or two people, while the person causing the blockage talks away oblivious to the mayhem they are causing. I wonder if you could buy a cattle prod there? Every few feet I had to keep checking back to do a head count. There were a couple times when #3 got redirected by the crowd and I could see her veering in the wrong direction (I guess in a crowd like that all the legs look the same). Finally we reached the petting zoo.

The petting zoo is called "Through the Farm Gate". Here you could see cows getting milked, a big sow with a dozen piglets, chickens, ducks, a donkey, a llama and other such animals. The biggest attraction by far was the baby goat pen. This was an enclosed area where your kids could go in and mingle with a bunch of goats. This of course had a huge lineup.

Time for a quick tangent.

Before we left the house I made sure everyone went pee or at least attempted to go. I said something along the lines of, "If someone has to go pee while we are there we'll have to come home so you'd better make sure you go", and everyone did go. Except me! At this point I had to admit to the kids that I had to go pee. So we all battled our way through the crowd so Mr. EverybodyBetterGoPee could use the facilities. Once this was taken care of we went back to the petting zoo.

I thought that if we wandered around and looked at some of the other animals the lineup might get smaller so we checked out the guinea pigs and the baby ducks and the pony. The pony decided to demonstrate a real live pony shit for the kids and boy did it smell! It also took the opportunity to urinate. If you have never seen a horse urinate you are missing out. It kind of looks like a big black hose is being lowered under its belly until it almost reaches the ground. #1 saw this and mentioned that the pony poop was just hanging there. I didn't correct her.

Resigning myself to the fact that the goat line wasn't going to get any smaller we stepped into place. The line actually moved pretty fast and the kids were in the pen in no time. They each managed to corner a goat and pick it up for a photo and that was really all they were interested in doing.

Next we went to visit the Super Dogs in person. A couple of them were out so the kids got to pet them and they got a Super Dogs photo (funny thing is, I didn't see a single dog from the show in the photo).

To wind up the day we headed back to the arena where we had one final snack before going home. I got a bucket of fries from the Chip Truck, #1 got a bag of mini donuts and #2 and #3 went for a bag of cotton candy.

We made it home around 5:30. No major incidents, nobody acted up and a good time was had by all.

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