2013 Chautauqua County Fair - Dunkirk, NY

September 19, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Well, it's happened again.

I always have all of these lofty goals for summer and pretty much like every other summer this one has slipped past with my "to do list" barely having a check mark on it.  It's not that I didn't have goals (like keeping up with this blog) but this summer just seems to have gotten away from me, more so than any summer in recent memory.  I'm pretty much behind a couple of months on just about everything. So, as we approach Autumn I begin my quest to catch up on Summer (bearing in mind of course it is football season). 

July found us once again at the Chautauqua County fair in Dunkirk, NY.  We really like the fair.  It's not too big, not too small.  As Goldilocks would say "it's juuuust right."  You can spend the day there and pretty much see and do everything.  We kind of have a set routine so we can make sure and do everything we want: check out the animal barns, ride a couple of rides, play some "I Got It", look at the craft barn (where Meagan had a display set up for our church's after school program that she runs), go to the museum, some more rides and "I Got It", eat supper, go to the grandstand event, look in the vendor barn, some more rides and "I Got It" and then a funnel cake on the way out.  Oops, I forgot the train.  The girls and I like the train, JoAnn, eh, not so much ("I've seen it every year for the past 15 years, it's the same train!").

The grandstand show this year, on the night we were there, were these guys on motorcycles going over this huge ramp.  These guys were nuts.  In my most daring and knuckle headed teenage years I wouldn't have even come close to doing what these guys were doing.  At times they had to be at least 30 or 40 feet off the ground and then they would do some stunt like letting go and hanging on to just the back of the seat only to jump back on just before they landed.  My question is, how do you get good at something like that?  I'm guessing the first few times you try that you're probably unsuccessful, which means you're dropping out of the sky without a motorcycle  underneath you or a parachute on your back.  I'm guessing it's hard to "try try again" when you're in traction laying in a hospital bed.

Supper found us at Campi's Pizza like it has for a number of years.  I swear, this pizza has the thickest crust I've ever seen.  It's like eating a whole loaf of bread in each piece.  They usually have four or five different pizzas out at any given time but it's a lot cheaper to buy a whole pie instead of individual pieces.  A whole pizza has eight slices and we would normally get just a cheese and pepperoni one because we can all agree upon it.  A few years ago though, I had an idea.  Wouldn't it be nice to get a whole pizza made up of slices that each of us chose.  I figured what the heck and asked the guy if we could each choose two pieces from the pizzas they had out to make up a whole pie.  He thought about it for a second and said "sure".  So for the past few years we each get to pick out which slices we want and make up our very own frankenpizza.  We can only ever eat half of it though so I always take the rest out to the car and we have leftovers later in the week at home.

When it came to "I Got It", yours truly was the only one who won a game this year.  I will admit though, last year JoAnn and the girls each won at least one game and I was shut out.  My jubilation this year was soon cut short though when it came time to choose my prize.

If you don't know what "I Got It" is, it's just a game where you throw these little balls on a grid and try to get tic tac toe.  If you win by yourself you get to pick a prize from these shelves in the middle of the tent.  Here's where my trouble started.  I couldn't find anything I really wanted.  Now you may be thinking to yourself, "oh brother, it's just a dopey old fair game, pick a prize and move on with your life."  And you would be correct in that thought.  However, on this night that would not be the case.  I wanted to pick a prize that I really liked and could use and would be representative of my great victory.  I casually walked around the prizes a couple of times trying to get an idea of what all there was to choose from.  Then I walked around a couple of more times.  My family tried to help with suggestions: "How about that T-shirt?" "No, I've got a hundred T-shirts."  "How about that little tool set?"  "No, I've got too many tools already."  "How about that huge frisbee with the Buffalo Sabres logo on it?"  "No, I don't need a huge frisbee."  This went on for a few minutes and a few more trips around the prize shelves when I suddenly realized my family was no longer making suggestions.  Actually they were no longer with me.  They were now standing outside of the tent talking to some friends of ours.  I thought this might be a good thing because they were at least doing something other than watching me walk around a bunch of prizes.  Hopefully this diversion would allow me the time to make a proper decision without the pressure of my family standing there and waiting for me.  I walked around the prizes again.... and again.... and again.  Surely I'm missing something.  There has to be something here that I've needed or wanted my entire life!  There has to be!!  It was getting bad.  Every few minutes the lady who gave out the prizes would ask me if I had made up my mind yet and inside my head I would scream, "NOOOOOOOO!!  IF I HAD I WOULD HAVE TOLD YOU!!!"  But I calmly said, "not yet" and kept on looking.  After a while  I looked up to check on my family and they were still standing outside of the tent except now they weren't speaking with anyone, they were just staring at me.  Cold, icy stares.

Now unless you are a man who has a wife and two daughters (aged 16 and 20) you may not appreciate the full dire-ness of this situation.  Three women waiting for you for something they don't think is a good reason to begin with.  Oh oh.  I'm toast.

I quickly picked up the pace of my futile search praying that God would somehow reveal something to me that I hadn't noticed on my first 20 trips around the prize shelves.  Nothing.  (God was apparently taking some time off on the ferris wheel.)  "That's it" I thought, "this is so stupid that God won't even help me."  And that's when I admitted defeat and stopped looking.  With somewhat shaky legs (I had been standing quite a while) I calmly walked down to where the prize lady was and made my selection.  No, I did not go with the T-shirt, the tool set or the huge frisbee with the Buffalo Sabres logo on it.  I did not go with the glass set, the camouflage printed baseball cap or the plastic food saver containers.  I of course went with...... wait for it ...... the souffle dish.  Yes you heard right, a souffle dish.

Now, this may seem a little odd on the surface but there was a bit of a reason for choosing a souffle dish.  My daughter Emily and I both like to cook and we're always watching cooking competition shows.  Around this time we had been watching The American Baking Competition with Jeff Foxworthy and in one of the episodes the competitors had to make a souffle.  Souffles are notorious for being difficult to make because they can fall so easily and the competitors were having a dickens of a time getting them to turn out right.  Neither Emily nor I have ever had a souffle much less tried to make one so we agreed that sometime we should try one and maybe even try and make one. And that my friends is why I ended up choosing a souffle dish for my "I Got It" prize.

The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful except for the fact that now wherever we went we were lugging around a five pound souffle dish.  The girls rode a ride or two too many and didn't feel all that great by the time we left.  We still did get our traditional funnel cake on the way out however (half cinnamon half powdered sugar of course, we couldn't possibly choose just one).

All in all it was a fun day and I'm sure we'll be back next year to do it all again..... except for maybe the souffle dish.

Joel


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