Saturday, September 12, 2009

Traveling to the LA County Fair

First thing to know is that I grew up in the town that hosts the LA County Fair. So the fair to me is old hat. But I have fond memories of the fair to this day. "Back in the day" we use to be let out of school half day on opening day of the fair. In addition to that we were given a ticket (the small kind you buy on a roll because computerized versions were a long way off) to go to the fair.

During my adolescence I was sooo into dancing that the love of it stays with me today but it never became a driving force. Anyway, our dance group always danced at the fair. You name the old stage - we danced there. When the fair was remodeled several years ago I was devastated because some of the stages changed or were removed. My adult brain still carried those fond memories of dancing on those now invisible stages; as well as the costumes my mother use to sew for me. But a couple stages still exist and I always stop and watch.

My girlfriend and I also worked at a food booth back in the 70's. That booth of course is long gone, but it's a rare occasion to find me eating a corn dog....we made so many! I'll bet she has a photo or two of us...good thing I don't!! I also worked at the local police department and ended up working a couple extra shifts at the satellite police department station maintained during the fair. My husband of 24 years was a law enforcement officer at the local police department and was required to work the fair after his normal shift and on days off.

That's a long way of saying we both have a history with the fair. He didn't grow up in that city so he doesn't share my younger memories, but we both have a certain fondness for the fair. As such we make a journey, maybe it's more of a pilgrimage, every year to the fair.

We decided to go on "A Day for Heroes" because entry was only $1.00 for the "hero" and one companion. Being a retired police officer, Chet qualified for this honor. This year (2009) was a lot different for us because I'm still in my wheelchair for long distances. I can use my crutch for short excursions - mostly around the house. But if you've ever been to the fair you know it's an all day event and a very large event. No choice here except for using the chair!

Our forays to the fair usually mean going through all the buildings - there's so much to see ...and avoid! We try to avoid all the "come ons" and those vendors who want to sell us something we don't need. But it's fun just looking...normally. For me, being in the chair, I didn't get the same views or the same feeling of being at the fair. If you can believe it I actually left the fair not having bought one thing. Now that's something to write about!! Seriously, I always buy something, even if it's just lotion; or last year I bought a shopping cart for all our finds. I don't know what it was but the feeling was different.

Regardless, the fair is a great place! There is so much to see and do, and that doesn't even count all the great food to be had! It's a colorful place, an inspirational place. Going to the Flower Building always inspires you to get out to the garden. It's always a beautiful place and has a great misting system that keeps you cool on hot days. Part of the Flower Building is now a wine garden where you can sample wine or sit at a bar and have a cool beer.

We also ventured into a building that was really geared for the kids. It was a dinosaur building complete with animatronic dinosaurs! It was a great learning tool for the kids and even some adults (or are we still children at heart?!).

This year there is a great art exhibit that displays different types of art from glass work to wood work to older pottery works. There was an informational display about the stone carvings on Easter Island. There's always a great photo exhibit but we didn't get there this year.

We also didn't get to the "Fun Zone" where all the rides and games generally are. The Fun Zone use to have a rainbow light structure to define it from the rest of the fair. It use to also generate the most notoriety. The rainbow was removed many years ago but some of the "old timers" still remember and don't go in the zone. That's not to say you shouldn't go there: I'm sure that's plenty of fun to be had there! And not to worry: there are some smaller ride areas in other parts of the fair for the little ones!

There's plenty of vendors outside the buildings too. If you go be sure to visit them as well - located near the Flower Building. And I can't forget the race track! It's true: there is a great race track there. After hours it becomes a concert zone. They book some great concerts there and of course the concerts are free with your admission. Very Cool!

All in all, the fair is a great place to go for a day. It's usually hot so make sure you bring water. AND wear comfortable shoes because you will be walking - A LOT!! Poor Chet pushed be around the entire fair and was exhausted at the end of the day. And get this: we parked where we always park which means a walk through a tunnel into the fair. It's a mild steepness walking down into the fair. Leaving the fair the same way means it's an uphill trudge. So yes, that meant Chet pushed me UP that incline. Now, he's in pretty good shape but even at that he was groaning the last 10-15 feet. I felt pretty bad - honest!

Wheelchair or no: I still give the fair two thumbs up on the KarenT scale. I will travel to the LA County Fair again next year and I'll lament all the WALKING I'll do. But the good thing will be Chet won't have to PUSH me up that incline again!