Recently I had the pleasure of going to the Del Mar Fair with my family. It had been at least 5 years since my last visit. The fair has always been special to me. I have fond memories of face painting, winning a stuffed animal prize, and of course indulging in fried food.
Isn’t it strange how your perspective changes once you’re an adult? Holidays like Christmas that used to be so magical are revealed to be exceedingly commercial and carry an element of stress that wasn’t there before. The magic is still there, but it is an echo of what you experienced as a child. Am I the only one that feels this way? Does this feeling go away when you have children of your own? If anyone has any suggestions, I would be grateful for them. Perhaps this feeling of loss is simply part of growing up, but I am still learning to accept it. It is a bitter pill to swallow.
I am happy to report that the fair was fun as an adult. For example, I think I appreciated the animals more than I used to. We saw sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, and even alpacas! They were all so sweet and adorable.
Afterwards we went inside a large tented area reminiscent of the swap meet known as Bing Crosby Hall where all kinds of goods were sold- from giant pickles, to superglue, to socks featuring the Mona Lisa. They also had a flower exhibit with roses every color of the rainbow.
My Dad loves to garden and dahlias are his favorite flower. Every time we go to the fair, I take my annual photo with the dahlias.
Next, we went with my sister and our family friends to the area with the amusement rides. This was an instance in which getting older alters your view of things. The rollercoaster was smaller than I remembered, and it appeared to be sagging. It was a relic with fading paint. How daunting it had been when I was young.
The rest of the rides seemed very exciting, but were not for the faint of heart. Most of them spun maniacally, sometimes upside down or even backwards. My advice: eat lunch afterwards.
I love that the fair engages all of your senses at once. Upbeat pop music is pumping, mingled with shrieks of horror and delight. The neon colors and flashing lights of the “Evolution” attempted to lure unsuspecting fairgoers into its grasp. The wafting aromas of BBQ chicken drumsticks, cinnamon rolls, onion rings, and funnel cake (among others) competed for my stomach’s attention. Sensory overload is my favorite part of the fair.
While our family friends braved the rollercoaster, my little sister as well as my husband and I ventured into a mirror maze. Tickets are not inexpensive and the mirror maze alone was a steep four tickets a person. The maze was fun, but we found our way out all too quickly. As we slid down the spiraling slide at the end I experienced a glimmer of what it felt like to be at the fair as a kid.
My husband wanted to try his hand at one of the carnival games. He was absolutely adamant about winning me a prize. I wasn’t about to object to that! He settled on a water balloon dart game. You had to pop 6 water balloons to win the largest prize. $5 bought you 3 darts. My husband won me an oversized husky with only 7 darts, I was very proud of him!
After all that excitement we were starving! For lunch we had chicken gyros, paper-thin garlic fries, grilled corn with butter and paprika, as well as Dole Whip (special pineapple ice cream for those unfamiliar). We slipped into our respective food comas shortly after. It was growing increasingly warm and the throngs of people were becoming thicker by the minute.
As we made the journey back to our cars we had the good fortune of stumbling upon a very special wiener competition! Wiener dog racing of course 😉 (what did you think I meant?) The dogs were so cute and while some of them dashed purposefully to the finish line, others darted into the crowd, unaware of the pressure that rested on their tiny canine shoulders.
Looking back I had an incredibly fun and eventful day at the fair. Sure, the amusement rides may have lost their glamor, but other facets such as the food have only improved over the years. For a good time, make sure the fair is on your summer bucket list.