Saturday, October 30, 2010

So, how much does it cost to go the State Fair for "free?"

Hey y'all!  Hugs, kisses, yada yada yada...

So, we went to the Louisiana State Fair this morning.  And, it was ONE glorious morning, even though it was cold, and cold weather sucks.  But, I layered up good, and survived.

As I told y'all before, my employer has an "employee appreciation day" at the Louisiana State Fair over in Shreveport, where everything is "free."  I started thinking back, and realized that I have not actually been to the State Fair since 1978.  So, that is 32 years.  While a lot has changed, I think they still have the same "Tilt-A-Whirl," and "Two Headed Texas Rattlesnake."  Unfortunately, "JoJo The Dog-Faced Boy" must have retired, because his regular spot on the midway was some kind of "Shoot a Basketball, and Win A Back-Scratcher" place instead.


Well, I hope that JoJo is enjoying his Dog-Faced retirement.  He deserves it.

Just sayin'...

The House of Mirrors is easier to navigate, though.  It's amazing that if you go in to it sober, you can get out a lot quicker.  

Just sayin'...

The only reason that I even went is because #4 son expressed an interest when I mentioned that we might go.  #4 son has some true challenges that our older 3 sons did not face.  Actually, he is retarded.  Let me tell y'all about #4 son.  He is 14 years old.  He never was able to learn to ride a bicycle.  We tried desperately with a trike, and then with two other bicycles as he got bigger...he just can't do it...he can't do the left/right thing...his brain just won't allow for it.

He has never been able to learn to tie his shoes.  I know that it embarrasses the hell out of him when one of the double knots I tie for him in the morning somehow comes loose at he'll just leave it that way, and come home having stomped on the laces all day.

He has never made, nor received a telephone call.  While many (if not most) of the kids he goes to school with have cell phones, iPods, etc., he has never even mentioned any kind of interest, or desire for any of that.  In many ways, he is in his "own little world."  Sure, the other kids at school are sweet, and kind to him for the most part.  There have only been a couple of instances where some unthinking, cruel children have picked on him, or made sport of him...really, only two that I know of.

But, he knows that he is different, and his classmates do, too.  Thanks be to God that he has been with the same bunch of kids since kindergarten, and most of them take up for him...protect him...and understand him.  That's a blessing.

He is highly intelligent, though.  His mind is a steel trap that absorbs everything crossing its' path.  He is a genius in many ways, but socially, physically (and emotionally), he is retarded.  

A few years ago, The Mrs. and I took him on a Summer vacation to Hot Springs, Arkansas.  A part of that vacation was to go to a large amusement park called Magic Springs.  It was a disaster!  Truly, a disaster!  He was frightened by the rides, the crowds of people, and honestly probably by the break in his "routine."  He's big on "routine."

So, when I mentioned The Fair, and saw his eyes light up...well...I thought, "Maybe he's ready to have another layer of this onion peeled back.  Maybe he'll drop a fear or two, and we'll move forward.

Yep!  We went!

#4 son & The Mrs. at The State Fair...

Man, he's tall!  Of course, The Mrs. ain't a giant, but it's frightening how quick he's passed her up.  He's only about 1/2" shorter than me now.

So, since #4 son was ripe for the kill, I challenged him to some really scary rides.

Saddling up!  (I'm the old, ugly guy on the right)

Dang, I look old!  Too old to still have a kid to raise.

Well, this was one of those rides that really give your stomach the flutters.  I mean, REALLY!  This was not the worst one that #4 Son and I rode...but it was pretty unpleasant.

I'm glad that I had not partaken of the "free food" yet.

(That's #4 son on the left, and me on the right...The Mrs. took this picture, because she was too chicken to come die with us).

#4 son and I rode several other rides that left us with the feeling that we had cheated certain death.  The worst one was that damn Pirate Ship deal that swings you all the way from God's Heaven, down to satans' hell, and then back up again.  I swear, I am grateful to God above that I rode that before we ate the "Free Lunch" provided by my employer.  I swear, they'd have had to shut the thing down for housekeeping if not.

(Is it just me...or does everybody experience a deal with their tinkler on that thing?  I don't mean an arousal kinda thing...I mean, like it got left in the stratosphere somewhere, and you only catch back up with it on the upswing?)

But, #4 son hung in like a trooper.

We topped off all the wild rides by riding the Ferris Wheel.  It was nice.  It was calm, and gave us all a good view of the world around us.

So, how much does it cost to go to the State Fair for "free?"  Not much...

One cup of lemonade, because The Mrs. got thirsty: $3  (Really, 3 bucks for watered down lemonade)

One funnel cake:   $6  (Really, 6 bucks for a chopped up quarter donut with powdered sugar on top)

One box of world famous Malone's State Fair Taffy:  $9  (No crap...a 1978 box of Malone's $2 Taffy is now 9 bucks...but they do let you leave the premises with it).

All totaled it was 18 bucks.

I'd go all philosophical here about breaking new ground in #4 son's life, and just how heartening it was to an old man Daddy to watch his son experience new things without a whimper, and understand just how important it is and all...

But, I won't.  Y'all are an astute bunch.  I'm sure you get it...


  1. This sounds like a perfectly wonderful day! I'm so happy for you, Mrs. Andy (who looked pretty darn good, if I might say!), and #4. Even if all the "free-ness" did cost you nearly a 20-spot.

    You made my day!

    But now I really want some of that taffy wrapped in wax paper!

  2. Andy, that's super. Great for #4 and we're so proud of you that you didn't cry or throw up or anything.

  3. Moogie: The Mrs. looks VERY DANG GOOD! And, it was a heartening day for us all. Thanks for the love.

    I shall mail you exactly two pieces of Malone's Taffy. The box says that it is made in Shreveport, LA, Jackson, MS, and Little Rock, AR.

    And, it's dang good stuff! I'm sure you've partaken in the past. Seriously, I'm sending you 1/48th of my box.

    Jimbo: I did not vomit. But, I did cry. I do that easily, with ZERO shame. Probably going to get that crying thing back on pretty soon...Ross called, and he is in Hope, stinkin' Arkansas headed our way...he'll be right near you in a little over an hour...and back at home base around 1900.

    I can't barely wait.

    Staci: Thanks, kiddo! When did you start smoking?

  4. Dang, I could walk out to the Highway and wave!

  5. Andy, I hate to break it to you, but if something says that it was made in Jackson, MS, it is a danged LIE. There is not one single person that works in Jackson.

    And man, you got lucky to get outta the fair for twenty. I think that the last time I went to the MS State Fair, it cost me a C-Note.

    The boy looks like an eating MACHINE, too. Dang, I would hate to feed that boy.

  6. I thought for sure you were going to tell us that the "free" fair ending up lightening your wally by a hundred bucks or better. Glad to hear it didn't.

    I'm also glad to see you had SN4 along to keep you brave. Not that you would catch me on any of those rides. No sir, not anymore.

    Looks you all had a good day, Andy!

  7. Oh, I don't think you look old in that picture. You just look like you are pondering your impending death, which I suspect would age most of us.

  8. Like everyone preceding me: Good on ya and it looks like it was a GREAT, rather than good, day. ALL y'all are lookin' good!

    You're a better man than I: I don't DO "rides," under ANY circumstances. I don't even go where rides might be, coz the very sight of 'em makes me queasy. Even looking at your pictures made me a lil bit light headed.

    I do admire your fiscal restraint. I think it's nearly criminal how much things at events like the State Fair have gone up.

  9. Truly heartwarming. Thanks for sharing...

  10. What, no candy apples?...cotton candy?

    Beautiful day for that great outing.

    A convict working on the road here ran off at fair time. He said he could smell the food and had to have sausage and peppers.

    Andy, I got saved, rededicated, and made vows time and time again on fair rides.
    "Oh, Jesus if you would just let me get off....then I will..., and I will never...."

    and of course He keeps his end of the bargin. :)

  11. That reminds me of going to the NM State fair when our kids were younger and we were too. We would start with the exhibits, move on to the horse races and finish with the rides. But it was the food that we all looked forward too. Your day with your son and wife sure looked like fun.

  12. Thanks everybody for the comments. It was fun.

    Nancy, some of those things can certainly become "Come to Jesus" experiences, for sure!

    BR, you are righter than you know.

    Again, thanks again to y'all for reading my junk. It was a good day.

  13. Andy, I shoulda commented on this earlier, but I've been sorta busy...

    I'm glad you had fun. As you know my son is also "special" and I know what you mean about new experiences. Watching him catch an 18" fat rainbow trout and the big smile on his face almost made me forget about falling in the river and ruining my droid phone...

    Glad you had fun. I went to the fair too and ended up spending about $20 on food, lemonade and some taffy, which I'm eating right now... Roughly 1,000 miles away...

  14. Cosmic, I read about the trout that your son caught. I think we understand each other on the "new experiences" deal when it comes to our sons.

    I probably should have picked up on that one before now. But as you (should) know, I'm all about ME, and MY junk.

    In closing...9 bucks for a box of Malone's taffy is still a deal. 30 something years ago minimum wage was $2.25 (or thereabouts) at $7.25 per hour (or whatever minimum wage currently is), a box of Malone's State Fair Taffy really hasn't gone up too much.

    It's still just as good, but it IS harder on the teeth now.


Don't cuss nobody out, okay?