August 6, 2016: Connor’s first county fair. We’d missed our own county’s fair, so we took Connor to the fair in the next county south, in the town where Aaron and I had both attended college.
We arrived and parked in the field across the street. The afternoon started out rocky when I realized that I’d applied sunscreen to Connor’s neck at home, then put the sunscreen back down on the counter instead of in my purse. We also had only a certain amount of cash on hand, hoping that would be enough.
Connor had some preconceived ideas about what a fair was all about: some animals, but mostly rides and balloons and snacks. When we stepped out onto the midway, he was clearly overwhelmed. We managed to get him to walk through one of the barns and look at the cows, but he really only had eyes for the Ferris wheel.
We purchased enough tickets to get him a few rides, then he picked Daddy to ride with him on the Ferris wheel.
After the Ferris wheel, Connor decided he’d ride on the train.
After the train, he decided his last ride would be the rocketship ride — which he rode facing backwards.
Since we were out of tickets, we pried him away from the midway and walked around the grounds and through a couple of the buildings.
That didn’t last long — we looked at some prize-winning flowers, then decided it was time to get some cotton candy. We bought a small bag, then found ourselves a table under a large shelter to enjoy some of it.
That’s where things started to go downhill. The begging and pleading for One More Ride began in earnest, but we didn’t recognize the signs that maybe we needed to wrap things up and get while the gettin’ was good. Instead, we agreed to buy him one more ride — the rocketship ride again, of course, but this time facing forward.
After his One More Ride, we all sat down on a bench along the midway and let Connor have some of the gummy fruit snacks that I always keep in my purse. Connor was clearly tired, but we didn’t feel like we’d properly gotten our fair on quite yet. In retrospect, this is when we really should have thrown in the towel — but we pressed on.
While we were sitting on the bench, Connor saw multiple people walk by with helium balloons, and was insistent upon getting one. So, off we went, trying to find the one building where some vendor was giving out balloons. As it happened, while we were consoling Connor during our trek to locate the elusive balloon-giver, we saw someone walk past with a balloon, and asked them where they got it. They pointed us toward the merchant building, under the grandstands, where we hadn’t realized there was more stuff to be seen.
Of course, we stepped up to the booth that was giving out the helium balloons just as they used up the last of their helium. But there was a clown making balloon animals just down the way! Off we went, hoping a balloon animal would satisfy Connor.
After the balloon animal, Connor managed to stretch out the trip just a little more by requesting a sno-cone. We had just enough cash left for one sno-cone, so we agreed, with the stipulation that we were going to go home after he finished his sno-cone. We found a picnic table under the grandstands to enjoy our treat and take a load off (and for me to take pictures with Connor’s generic 35mm camera).
We were out of cash, as hard as that is for a young child to understand, so we got up — angering Connor by one of us drinking the dregs of his sno-cone without his permission — and decided we’d do just one more thing before we go. Maybe walk through one more building, maybe look at some pigs. Then we walked past a giant sandbox with toys and other kids playing in it, and that’s what Connor wanted to do. Aaron and I were not down with sandbox time, and we told Connor as much, and that’s what finally triggered the toddler-style drop-to-the-ground overtired temper tantrum. (The lady at the newspaper booth asking if we’d like a family photo at that very moment might have thought she was offering us a distraction, but she really wasn’t being nearly as helpful as she might have thought.)
I picked Connor up and bodily carried him toward the exit — luckily, he’s only just over 42 pounds. Eventually, he calmed down enough for us to document his tired tantrum face for posterity.
We had thought we could go out to dinner after the fair, but that was not to be. Connor tried to tantrum-drop again in the middle of the street on the way back to the car, kept kicking and screaming all the way to our (very close) parking spot, and was in no condition to attempt a restaurant trip. He just had nothing left — and neither did we.
So, what started out as a fun afternoon at the fair ended up with a grumpy and slightly sunburnt family vowing not to skip Connor’s daily afternoon Quiet Time again in the near future.