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A Trip to the Fair: Why Carnies Can Afford Mercedes

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The 2010 Oklahoma City State Fair opened on Thursday, September 16th. Every year at the fair, Oklahomans enjoy local musicians, contests, food, more food, and rides.

The reason I went to the fair this year was to ride the rides. The Ferris wheel was huge and the usual fast and loud rides were faster and louder than ever. Because I brought a Dr Pepper can with me (I didn’t buy it, I just got it out of my neighbors’ recycle bin) I could get my wristband at a discounted price of $19 instead of $25. If KISS knew that Dr Pepper was sponsoring the Annual Coronary Heart Disease Convention of Oklahoma, they probably wouldn’t be in the Dr Pepper commercials. This wristband allowed me to ride any and all rides an unlimited number of times that day. Instead of spending five overpriced tickets at the Ferris Wheel, I could flash my wrist and hop on. I flashed it repeatedly.

At the fair, they have deep-fried macaroni and cheese. Even better, they also have deep-fried candy bars ready for purchase if you have three dollars to spare. Snickers, to be specific. I haven’t been much of a fan of chocolate since I grew out of my sweet tooth at age nine, but something about chocolate surrounded by fried fat just screamed appealing to me, until I tried it. Then I tried a deep-fried Twinkie. I don’t eat Twinkies as is, because I don’t find any fun in a dessert that contains more fat and sugar than I would normally eat in a week. But because I was surrounded by hundreds of Oklahomans chowing down on deep-fried Coke (yes, it exists), I felt a sense of belonging with my mouth full of cream and grease.

The petting zoo would have been the best part of the fair if I had been able to find it. Instead, all we found was a pig race that started half an hour late and ended in a tie. The money I spent to get into the fair didn’t pay for a decent map. The winner of the pig race was the pig wearing a blue ribbon.

Fairs are famous for their games and persuasive carnies. The Oklahoma City State Fair is no exception. For five dollars, you can try your hand at throwing a baseball at some bottles and perhaps you can win a 75-cent prize afterward. This year, the largest stuffed animal prizes were at the game that most required perfect coordination. A player was required to lead a wire loop down a metal line without letting the two touch. The catch is that the metal line was curved, and moved in a motion that forced the hand to rotate backward. The carnie who demonstrated the game to us couldn’t make it to the end. Needless to say, at the end of the night there wasn’t a single stuffed animal missing from that carnie’s stash. Step right up!

I am not bitter, because I got my prize. When I went to the Fair on opening day, I got a large Scooby-Doo stuffed animal just after sunset. Every time I look at my darling Scooby, I remember the excitement my ex-boyfriend and I felt when he won the dart game. (In the dart game, one must throw darts to pop balloons. Every dart costs five dollars.)

“Here, I’ll give you this dart free,” the carnie said, his bright blue eyes filled with greed on the fifth dart. “It’s like I’m giving you five dollars right outta my pocket.”

We paid for four, got one free. The balloon we popped with that dart cost the carnie a few cents, but I’m glad he felt like he was losing five dollars out of his own pocket.

Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop

On the ninth dart, the carnie started to sweat. His lightning-blue eyes zoomed to my ex. “I hope you can win a prize for your lady,” he said with a wink to me. My ex’s manhood was on the line.

“This dart is worth ten dollars because it’s a special dart,” he said on the tenth dart, once my boyfriend had run out of money and we had begun to use my hard-earned bills straight from my pink wallet. “If you don’t make this dart, you lose all your progress so far. But if you make it, you can move up to the next level and pick any prize on the wall.” There were four walls, each with different-sized prizes. He didn’t point to which wall he talked about, but I’m sure Carnie wasn’t referring to the best stock.

I was still uncertain as to how many darts we would need to get a decent prize. The carnie spoke quickly and wiped his brow with his bright blue sleeve that matched his piercing eyes. We [I] bought our tenth dart for ten dollars, and by luck my boyfriend popped another balloon. He made every single shot in these many minutes, and yet we still had to pay $55 for Scooby-Doo. We call him Crackhead Scooby because his grin is unnaturally large and he seems to be having a great time laughing at how much we spent for him. I bet Carnie drives a Mercedes.

In the blackness, the Fair lights speckled the night with color. We used the purple glow to find our way back to the car. Every parking space was filled. Hundreds of people arrived after sunset, wanting to enjoy the nighttime Trick Roping show and the taste of $3 lemonade.

Scooby-Doo was buckled into the backseat of the car, his Crackhead grin as big as ever. I was pleased because I had made it through most of the carnival rides without losing my digesting fried Twinkie. Scooby grinned because he knew the Oklahoma City State Fair of 2011 will open on September 15th. I may not have the iron stomach or the bottomless wallet to return, but thousands of Oklahomans will be back, ready to once again come face to face with the crisp blue eyes of the carnie.

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About Katharine M. Sparrow

  • Carnie

    Are you the type of moron that spends too much money at the casino and then wants the casino shut down? Don’t spend money if you don’t have it to spend. Take up knitting or something STUPID.

  • rickey

    I do not drive a Mercedes :(
    But I do drive a PT Cruiser