Sunday, October 19, 2008

We're going to the faaaaaaaair...the Alachua Maricopa county fair

Well, we went to the fair Friday night. I'm not a big fair person, but we got free tickets from foster care and they were only good friday night. I was exhausted from a long week and had a raging headache, but it was for the family so off we went. It was a fairly (hah) good time, though it cost a bundle. It was worth it to see the little ones light up though. They definitely didn't enjoy the animals like I did, but they flipped out over the rides. Who knew! They are such wimps I would have figured they would hate the rides. I got to ride on one ride with them and it was a blast...if you've been there it was the big boat that rolled back and forth in what you can only describe as a skateboard ramp while it was spinning in circles. Fun fun fun. The rides were expensive though, I think most rides were like 5 'tickets' (though you didn't have any tickets). It was like 10 tickets for 5 bucks so you can do the math but your dollar sure didn't go very far. Aimee is pregnant so it didn't seem too fun for her, she loves rides and couldn't go on any. She did get her nachos though :)

OK, now the shiny-happy part is over. Now begins the part of this blog where I point out how stupid everything in Arizona is. When you think 'State Fair' what do you think? Farm animals, big midway, gangs, crowded city streets. Of course, me too! So Phoenix is smack dab in the middle of a huge desert. Arid wasteland for miles and miles and miles in every direction. The city is surrounded by suburbs which are in turn surrounded by huge farms. So where would you put the state fair, keeping in mind that almost the ENTIRE STATE OF ARIZONA is composed of rural, small-town communities. Downtown! Of course, I'm SURE there will be plenty of parking and there won't be any unsavory types lurking around to spoil the experience for people who have driven in from the wild country up north, south, east, or west of us. In fact, we should try and cram the entire thing in the middle of a residential neighborhood-and by middle I mean a very tiny piece of that neighborhood. Seriously, whose dumb-ass Idea was it to have the fair at Grand & McDowell? There isn't ANYWHERE else in the ENTIRE STATE that can handle a fair ? If you're from Florida, let me try and paint you a picture. Imagine the way Church Street Station used to be. Remove the city parking. Remove all of the street lights. Break beer bottles everywhere. Add 3 million people. And then drop half of the Brevard County Fair right on top of Rosie O'Gradies. That's right, half, because that's all you can fit into THE MIDDLE OF THE CITY. I'm not sure which was more sketchy, the dimly lit parking lots managed by homeless people or the gang task force patrolling the fair. We had to leave pretty early because we didn't want to be walking around the city with our kids late at night (you know, like after 8). When we got back to the parking lot where we left our car, we saw two young ladies that had parked right next to us on their cell phone. This was just after I caught a glimpse of our van and sighed with relief. I asked the girls if they were ok and they said they were waiting on the police because their car along with 3 other ones right next to theirs had been broken into. Awesome, good thing we paid 15 to park in a 'safe' lot. I almost had a heart attack as I walked around our car feeling the windows but luckily we won the state fair lotto and didn't get our car broken into. I was really looking forward to that phone call to my mom, "Hey remember how our house was robbed 3 days aga? Guess what-our car got broken into also!!"

I'm sure there is a lot more I can say, but I guess I"m good to go after the parking lot thing. On a positive note, we did see some really cool chickens, and the biggest freaking cow I have ever seen in my life.


beth said...

i know you got free tickets but next time go on a day when they have ticket discounts like wristband day or all rides for a dollar day. It saves like a crap load of money there. And if you dont go on a weekend then you can park in the main fair parking lot and it is garded and close.

nomonitorcable said...

Beth I think you have the "Maricopa County Fair" and the Arizona State Fair confused. Both are on the same fairgrounds but they are not the same fair nor are they run by the same people. Moreover, their purpose is much different. the Maricopa County Fair is trying to give a little bit of a small town experience in the middle of a town that has far outgrown it's own skin.

The Maricopa County Fair is the smaller, safer, and family fair. They have adequate security that is unobtrusive. Gangs left the fair long ago leaving behind families with little kids (not exactly what gangs are looking for).

The fair is all about the community with the usual barrage of traditional small county fair exhibits like, jam, jellies, quilts, and livestock exhibits. Yes livestock over 2,000 animals all raised by children in the vast metropolitan sprawl of Maricopa County. You can enjoy family entertainment like Kobert's Amazing World of Bird Show, watch a puppet show presented by Mitchell Marionettes, a renowned marionette show performed by Nancy Mitchell a second generation puppeteer that performed in Greenwich Village and counted the demised Jim Henson in a long list of notorious friends. To compliment the variety of professional entertainers at the fair (by the way all the entertainment is included with fair admission) the fair provides the opportunity for over 100 community performers to take to the stage and present their art.

The fair is a non-profit association. They receive no funding from the County or from tax dollars. They do charge for you to get in, that's how they pay the bills so that they can run their youth programs. But interestingly enough if you want to you could go to the fair for free. Wed-Friday from 9am - 3pm they open the gates and let anyone that wants to have a good time in for free including the over 6,000 kids that come in for free as part of the fair’s school field trip program. Not everyone can make it out to the fair during the day so the fair partnered with the food bank and you can come to the fair from 3pm-9pm and get in for free when you donate two cans of food. Now that’s two reasons to smile. Of course the rides do have an associated cost but if you're a student in the sixth grade or below you can come to the fair for free and ride 4 carnival rides for free on Thursday night when you read 4 books. It's an effort to help those that don't have a ton of money to have a great time and promote literacy at the same time.

The State Fair has maybe a million people come to the fair. The Maricopa County Fair has about 70 thousand. In a town of 4 million it truly is a small town experience. I hope you'll visit the Maricopa County Fair when they open their gates next Spring from April 15-19, 2009 and offer to the community a taste of a small town experience in our over crowded hustle town. Maybe I’ll bump into you, I’ll be the one there with my wife and kids, the ones with the big smiles and cotton candy sticky fingers. I'll be the one that says "excuse me" when I bump into you because we haven't all forgotten our manners or that we’re neighbors no matter how large the neighborhood has become.

By the way i'm sure the Maricopa County Fair would give tickets to your foster care group too.

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