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State Fair with the Three Amigas

E, 7, and K, 4, are staying with us for a few days. I had thought that we would hit the movie theater this morning and the skating rink this afternoon but both of them had already seen Kit Kittridge and I had no burning desire to see it--V doesn't read my calendar or the entertainment section of the paper so she never knew she was missing a thing. They didn't seem excited about skating, either. We went to the fair instead.

We looked at sheep and wool for a while, then horses, then dairy cows. We got some ice cream, marveled at the butter cow, saw a two-hour-old calf stand up for the first time, and milked a cow--E and V actually milked the cow; K sort of fondled the cow but the cow-keeper gave her a cheese stick and an I milked a cow! note anyway. Then they painted on a mural for a while.

In the ag building they watched eggs hatch (paint dries faster), "planted" washers and bolts in a box of dirt for a really long time, ground wheat into flour, pedaled a tractor through a straw-bale course, and more. We finally got through the building and crossed the street to get to the Dept of Natural Resources area. Kids like it because there's a giant Smokey the Bear there who will talk to you. I like it because it has trees. Shade is a fabulous natural resource.

Smokey recognized the kids and addressed them by name. They were all shocked. V was surprised he remembered her from last year. E was a little creeped out. K fell immediately and deeply in love with Smokey the Bear. They make a very cute couple.

They did some laundry on a washboard and hung it on a clothesline. The big girls (you had to be 42 inches tall) signed up to paddle a kayak. I thought K handled the disappointment pretty well; however, she asked a couple of times why she couldn't participate and then weepy V said she didn't want to go if K was going to be unhappy. She got over that (A corn dog helped. Tears are reliable indicators of hunger or exhaustion--empathy, not so much.) and they spent a good 10 minutes kayaking in a pool. We walked through an aviary, saw a bunch of animals, and then the kids (no one over 14 was allowed) went fishing.

They have space for about thirty kids at a time at the fishing pond. No one in the group in front of us caught a thing, but after a few tedious minutes E caught a catfish. She wanted to take him home and fry him up. They wrapped him in paper and put in in a fridge for us, but that meant we didn't have much time to stay at the fair since they were shutting down in less than an hour. Perfect! I had told the kids they could ride a ride before we left, so we ventured out the the midway and found something everyone was tall enough to do. We retrieved the fish and rode the shuttle (also a fun ride, and free!) back to our car. The fish guy had told me to filet the fish today so I amended my plan to stop at a grocery store on the trip home. Instead, we went to a convenience store for toothbrushes and raced home to cut open the fish.

Except when we unwrapped him on the kitchen counter, he was still but gasping. Alive! No one wanted to see me plunge a knife into the back of our catfish friend, least of all me. We took a brisk walk to the pond and let him go. He'll probably be somebody's dinner soon, but it was a relief to see him wriggle down out of sight.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 7th, 2008 10:31 am (UTC)
Wow! That's some catfish! The survival gene is strong in that one.
Aug. 7th, 2008 12:22 pm (UTC)
When kept cold, their metabolic rates slow down and those suckers can live for a fair bit. Clams, even longer!

Sounds like a fun day!! I have to admit I'll be giggling about K "fondling the cow" for a bit...
Aug. 7th, 2008 01:45 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a maaavelous time was had by all. I remember (vaguely) when our girls were young and all sorts of cute stuff like that happened. I was really tickled by your account of the Smokey Bear encounter. Now I've got one starting high school (jeez, are we really that old?!?!), and most of the recent vacation memories are of whether or not the kids squabbled in the car :-).

That's one DETERMINED catfish, for sure!
Aug. 7th, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)

Ok, two things (one I muffed and one cleared up): We haven't seen the movie yet. Let your lack of enthusiasm stop you from seeing it, though, if that's your inclination. I think the movie's a protracted ad for the dolls *shudder* and I wasn't all that interested in seeing the movie myself. I suppose it could be educational, but I don't know. I hear Space Chimps is actually decent, but I don't know how K will like it.

And now I understand the catfish and kayak references. Glad to hear it's well away.

Sounds like it was fun, all the way around!
Aug. 8th, 2008 01:25 am (UTC)
Holy catfish!

I remember when I was old enough to realize that Smokey was a good listener, but my brother had not quite grasped it. That was fun.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )