Well. I did it. I am the girl who cried at the State Fair. Who cries at the State Fair? It’s a Happy Place. There are ferris wheels.
There are obnoxious games, with more obnoxious prizes. It’s great.
It’s a little overstimulating. But pretty, in its own carnie kind of way.
I can only imagine what the fair looks like to someone this little:
We had a great time, despite the crying. We started off in the exhibit hall. My friend PJ had “enter a baked good in the State Fair” on her Life List. She entered. And she flippin’ won a ribbon, her first time out. Well done.
We spent a good chunk of time admiring the cake decorating, and the handmade clothes, and sampling peanuts. It’s North Carolina, after all. My granddad grew peanuts on his farm Down East. We encountered a screech owl, which was maybe even cuter than the toddler with the giant pig. He would not cooperate for a picture. He was a little bit of a diva that way.
We finished admiring the owl and the jars of preserves and went in search of food. Word to the wise, the best ham biscuits are at the church booths up near the waterfall. And then the sun was setting, and the midway lit itself up, and we compared notes at all the “guess your age” booths. The barkers were way, way off. The weren’t even really trying. I stood way, way back, lest someone venture a guess as to my age or weight, out loud.
And then we went into Dorton Arena to hear Tift Merritt. We had lemonade. We ate kettle corn. We had girl talk. We all sat down and the lights went out. Tift Merritt came onstage. I burst into tears at the first note.
What? Tears? At the fair? Why? I have no idea. And it wasn’t just a little bit, like a misty-eyed kind of crying-in-a-good-way thing. Thank heavens it was dark.
Tift Merritt is one of my favorites, especially since she’s a Raleigh girl. I heard her a few years back, at an outdoor show at the art museum. As she was playing, the train in the background let out a long, low whistle, in perfect harmony with the song. She finished, and then told the audience she felt like she had been born to play that song, on that North Carolina lawn, and have that train join in at just that second. It’s one of the most magical music moments I’ve ever witnessed.
So she got up and played tonight in Dorton Arena, and the acoustics in there are terrible, but she still gave the Raleigh crowd a great show. And I cried because I love her music, and because I was tired, and maybe because I want to be the girl up there doing something I love, with all my heart. The girl who’s confident enough to play three guitars and wear a fabulous dress and pour her heart out onstage and have a great time doing it, even if the acoustics are bad and the crowd is so quiet it sounds like they’re in church. The girl who does something well enough to move people to tears. The girl who’s found her way. My thing doesn’t have to be guitars and stage presence and traveling the world singing my songs. But wouldn’t it be great to be some version of that girl? I pulled it together for the next few songs, until she made her way over to the keyboard for “Good Hearted Man,” and I fell apart all over again. Don’t I sound like fun? I think I need the Advice Booth back.
We put it all back together with junk food and a ferris wheel. When we left the show, it was good and dark, and the midway was lit up and loud. The view from up top was worth the wait in line.
After taking in the lights and the view, we found ice cream made in a tractor, and apple fritters in the Village of Yesteryear. And then we found more apple fritters. and also a corn dog. And the fireworks started, and it is impossible to be too focused on a meltdown when there are fireworks. They were pretty impressive, with the shimmery ones and the ones that turn into blossoms at the end and the ones that make little spirals as they climb. And they were loud enough to shake us, a little, and that’s how you know you’ve seen some fireworks.
The fair was a great time, identity crisis and all. Fortunately, it’s also not my last trip this year. Wish me luck, the Bacon Competition is on Wednesday. I’m taking the morning off, and I’ll be having fair food for lunch. I’ll report back.