Imagine Fun Fair Food had zero calories and only benefited your health in every way. Which would you choose?
Elephant ears, funnel cakes, strawberry shortcakes. Dairy barn ice cream, blueberry ice cream, cotton candy piled to the sky on a twirly cardboard cone. Fried zucchini, fried snickers bars, fried cheesecake. French fries, deep fried curled potatoes, broasted potatoes. Barbecue turkey legs, corn dogs, pork tenderloin. Lemon Shake ups, on-tap root beer, or a diet soda if you really feel bad about all the other calories.
Fair Food. Fair food is so, so fun. Expensive, yes. Unhealthy, yes; but so, so good.
Our family loves to eat. Yes, with the health food revolution , we stand firmly by our cause. Fair junk food. Fair junk food heaven–Junk food paradise. Mind you, only once or twice a year. If we ate Fun Fair Food more than that, we’d be both broke and bloated, so we choose our Fun Fair Food binges carefully.
Before you speed dial Jamie Oliver or Michele Obama to tell on me, put the iPhone down and look me in the eyes when I talk junk food. Hear my heart. This is important. I’ll eat a carrot and a flax seed too, (whatever that is), when I am done writing this article. I promise.
Whether it’s the warm air mixed with the fair grime smell or some sort of fair magic, It draws you in…when you are at a summer fair, the smells, sights, blinking neon signs with promises of fun, happiness and elephant ears. The crowds, the people, the noise…and the food–it’s all a part of the fun.
Our family is mesmerized by the fair magic and we are drawn to the neon lights like hungry little caterpillars to that Hungry Little Caterpillar book. We love fair food. Over the years, we have grown in our love of fair food and our strategies to consume it in the most efficient way possible. I thought I’d share our strategies with you, in case you plan on being drawn in as well:
Divide and conquer
We go four ways. The older two girls get in line for their Walking Tacos and Corndogs with explicit instructions not to look at or engage any boy, man, or stranger in any conversation whatsoever between the time they leave us and return to us, this saves time and a lot of confusion with teenage girls.
Rob, my husband is in charge of buying 5 super duper extra large lemonades with all the gritty, sugary stuff at the bottom…He is also in charge a few more the main dinner item(s). A Philly cheesesteak sandwich, a barbecue turkey leg, and about 50 napkins to stuff into his cargo short pockets. Me and Belle, our youngest daughter-we are the fried food girls. We get the deep fried veggies with about five vats of ranch dipping sauce. And also about 50 more napkins.
We text and call each other to find a designated meeting spot at picnic table or if it’s too crowded, we just plop down on the grass and dump all the food in front of us. And we seriously indulge. We take a few bites of whatever is in front of us, pass it on for the next person…unless you’re like me and you’re not really into sharing. We eat it all. Every bite. Some of the food ends up on clothes or spilled on the ground for the more than five second rule. We don’t fuss. It’s no big deal. It’s the fair!
After licking our fingers clean and wiping faces for fair presentability, we head to the rides.
Spin and Repeat
Velocity burns calories, right? Absolutely it does. So we figure if we ride the really fast, spinning rides, most of the calories will disappear. At least that’s what we’d like to believe.
For those of us with milder spinning ride dispositions, we wait by the exit and try to manage holding the 5 refillable lemonade super extra large plastic up things with the really cool long bendy straws, the hats, the purses, and all the random accumulated fair items.
After we’ve ridden the rides, we split up and hit the lines for dessert. The same process as dinner, split up, text, call, meet back up, share or not share, depending on your degree of dessert hoarding (my level would be really high again here).
But really, if I were to let you in on a secret, and I am sure you already know this. The Fair isn’t just about the food. It’s about the fun and the friends you see with their kids, doing the same thing as your family is doing. Enjoying the rides, being silly, eating mounds of cotton candy, laughing and having a great time.
The Fun Fair Food is a great bonding experience for our family, something we laugh about and strategize about together through the year. We keep our lemon shake up cups with the bendy straws and occasionally someone will say, “Remember when…” and that’s the whole point right there. Remembering, making memories and being together.
So next time you are at the fair, take our family’s word for it. Divide and conquer, Seriously indulge, Spin and repeat. Worry about what’s healthy the day after the fair. Eat all your veggies un-fried that day, eat a flax seed, whatever that is, and scrub the fair grime out of your kids’ clothes. Most importantly, have fun remembering all the joy your family experienced along the way.
This article appears in the June 2013 issue of Michiana Family magazine.