For 11 days each August, the antiquated and worn out Kentucky Exposition Center gets a shot of adrenalin when the Kentucky State Fair takes over the property.
For me, it is a excellent chance to people-watch and observe. You get all types at the Fair. Wanted or not.
My visit to this year's fair spanned a time period of nine hours. It's enough. You not going to see everything anyway...and you pick your battles. The State Fair Guide is a valuable tool for strategy-planning.
I've learned to beat the system and acquire free entrance and parking each year. I could tell you how...but why spoil this perfect secret? The $20 bucks or so we save is spent back, though. Three rituals each year are a pork chop sandwich, turkey leg and lemon shake-up. That $20 bill vanishes pretty quickly. I added a cheeseburger this year and wish I hadn't.
Finding a shady spot to sit and rest for awhile is mandatory. Mine's a good one that allows us to rest the hooves, observe folks and still get the enticing aroma of the horse barns and funnel cakes.
Check out the guy whose waiting in line five hours before a free show in Cardinal Arena starts. I had to find out why.
"Have you ever heard any of (artist protected) music?" he gushed.
I had to confess that I hadn't.
"Well, man...you need to." he insisted. I chose not to wait with him in front of the fence gate on the entrance ramp. I think I was that way about Lynyrd Skynyrd 35 years ago...but I really don't remember.
Next is the young lady pushing a double-seater baby carriage while puffing away on a Marlboro. She stopped to share the shade with us. UK T-Shirt, cutoff blue jeans and a considerable amount of free stuff piled on and around the girls' transport device.
"I love it. This is my third trip this year. The girls love it. My boyfriend he don't come but once a year. Says it's too boring." she confined while lifting one of the ankle-biters out of the stroller. "I got three free scratch-off tickets, too."
Seems I always run into several people I know. One of my favorite bartenders from Churchill, there to work a show...extra money for make-up and perfume, I suppose.
"Hon, I make twice what I do at the track at these shows in tips. They could hold this fair for a month and it wouldn't bother me." she laughed after giving us a hug. I smelled like cheap perfume for two hours afterwards. "ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) is a LOT tighter here though. I'm checking grandmas for ID's."
A bowling buddy from years ago. A bit greyer, heavier and slower...he had a seat with his wife next to us and gave us a rambling 15 minute dialogue on life after bowling and how bad his boss sucked. The View doesn't get stuff this good. I was ready to go to commercial, though...and we left.
A neighbor from the old neighborhood...a tragic figure who lost a husband, job and car all in one year. With a new man, dressed to the nines and carrying a stuffed animal the size of Rhode Island. Laughing. That was good to see. Her struggle with life temporarily conquered.
The Pukey Boy strolled by a bit later. With a female on his arm and a half-finished beer in one of his massive paws...his gait was unsteady and his head bouncing like a bobble-head. You knew it was coming. Guided over to a garbage can, he contributed probably $20 of liquid trash to the container. Mission accomplished, they headed indoors. A satisfied smirk on his face and a war whoop bellowing from his lungs.
Elephant ears and warm Budweiser seldom mix well.
Finally, my yearly chat with Freddy Farm Bureau...the big guy sitting in front of Freedom Hall.
ME: "Hey, Freddy..where'd you play your college ball?"
FREDDY: "Right here in Kentucky!"
ME: "Where's Ms. Farm Bureau?"
FREDDY: "Back on the farm."
ME: "Let's you and I go grab a cold one and score some babes."
(Silence from Freddy...then a "Hi, little boy. Welcome to the State Fair.")
Dissed by Fred. I'd had enough. Time to leave the smells, the sights and the scenes.
I'm sure it's the same in Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio and Nebraska. The state's finest, gathered together in a mish-mosh of sweat, sunscreen, sandals and fried food. Keep an eye out for the golf carts. These aren't Sunday duffers looking for an errant tee shot. The rules of the road or links vanish here.
I guess there will come a time when I'm too old and feeble to make this yearly jaunt. Maybe I can get Pukey Boy to roll me around in a wheelchair. I wanna party with this guy.