Because I grew up and lived post of my life within the same few zip codes, I notice changes in seasons on my own terms. It is not by changes in the snow on any mountains, or the migrations of any particular animal. I am not speaking of anything obvious, like Target has its school supplies out, or there is a cardboard bin of pumpkins outside the Cub foods. I notice at this time, the light coming through the window in the morning is a greenish gray. This sun has not fully risen above the horizon, but you know it is coming. The sky almost looks it will be a rainy day. But I know to wait.
This is State Fair weather. It was a day like this that we used to ride in the station wagon across town, which seemed so far away then. The sun would be up when we parked in a lot, and we’d enter through the three prong gate, walk over the wooden bridge to the other side of the busy street. We would arrive at the Hippodrome. I know it is called something else now. Doesn’t matter. It is the Hippodrome.
We would walk through the animal barns, looking at the sheep, pigs, cows, chickens. I had no judgment of what I saw. They were animals I never saw up close in the suburbs. If I was lucky it was the day the rabbits were there. Rows of bunnies.
In those years we never stopped for food from the vendors except for a shake and a cheese sandwich in the Dairy Building. We walked through the building with the forest animals and saw the fish pond. It is the Department of Natural Resources building. I just looked it up.
I never saw the Midway rides until I was a teenager and could go to the fair on my own with friends. As a child we steered clear of the area and if I asked I was told it was construction. I was not the brightest kid.
We went on the Old Mill ride. I liked the coolness of the dark building after being out in the hot August sun for hours. I loved being splashed by the water lapping over the side of the boat. There were be little displays of elves and fantasy characters as the boat followed its path. I had already been to Disneyland by this time so I wondered why they did not move or sing like the ”It’s A Small World” ride.
We walked through the Creative Activities building and looked at quilts and other crafts. Sometimes my Mom had an item entered. I do not know if she ever won a ribbon. I did not see one as we cleared out her things after her passing. Perhaps my sister knows.
We might listen to music at the Bandshell. I liked seeing the large animal statue on that corner, though I never knew it was a gopher or why it wore a jacket, hat and carried a cane. We never went up on the Space Needle. We did not take the Skyride across the grounds. We sometimes caught the parade.
I remember Machinery Hill. I really tried hard to like this area. It had lots of big metal toys in bright colors. I did not understand what they did, or why they did not have easy steps to climb, swings or slides. I was glad to be out of that area.
Because we had arrived by 8:30 in the morning, shortly after lunch we were ready to leave. We walked back across the grounds, over the wooden bridge again, through a scary metal gate that looked like it could slice you into 20 pieces, and made it back to the car, ready for the drive home.
This was my state fair experience for the first 10 or 12 years of my life. These days I wonder why I bother going. Perhaps it is just to stir the memories in my heart, and to know that the summer has had proper closure when one has gone to the fair.