5 Tips for Surviving a Small-Town Gathering

Yesterday we went to a small-town festival.

It was lovely. It really was.

But I saw more strange sights there than expected and came up with a survival schema. Just in case you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s how I got through it:

1. Wear a paper bag. This is the only way to survive the large number of people you went to high school with. Too often I saw someone I recognized from decades ago and thought, “Oh! That’s so-and-so. And, oh my, they’ve gotten fat!” It’s disturbing. And I’m certain they were thinking that about me, too. So the safest bet is to wear a paper bag on your head so no one will recognize your rotund torso and try to reconcile it with your 16-year-old self.

2. Don’t dress your six-year-old as a two-bit hooker. I saw a gal wearing wedge heels and a strapless top. Her hair was piled high on her head, she was tan, and she had a youthful vibrancy that was quite attractive. Which made sense because she was probably six years old. I know I’m a scrooge about clothing but why would you let your child go to a place where there are strangers everywhere dressed to attract sexual attention? Why? Why?!

3. Stop before you teach your 10-year-old to pole dance. I don’t know if I was just on a roll of judgmental opinions but I had yet another why?! moment when I saw the 10-year-old girl dancing in front of the live band (which was truly awful, by the way). She was absolutely into the music, swinging her hips, pelvic thrusting the air, grabbing the stage pole and pretending it was her partner. It was disturbing. It was also 1 o’clock in the afternoon and she was the only one on the dance square. Awkward. Made me wonder if she’d gotten into the beer garden or just watched too much Jersey Shores.

4. Make friends with the tractor driver. My favorite part of the adventure was the tractor driver for the hay ride. He was funny, ironic, and not at all concerned by the sweat drops rolling off his skin. I loved him and his personality. So often we overlook interesting people because they aren’t where we expect them. I’m going to give you a truism: if someone can drive a tractor, they’re worth getting to know!

5. Clog your arteries. I’ve heard some fairs are now serving fried sticks of butter! I haven’t seen it with my own eyes, but I did see Navajo fry bread, cotton candy, roasted corn, cheese curds and funnel cakes. There’s a rule about eating carnival food – consume as much as possible as quickly as possible because if you don’t your body will rebel. Oh, and word to the wise: don’t ride the Zipper or the Gravitron directly after eating. Vomit is NOT my favorite.

There you have them! Five definitive ways to prepare and enjoy the local festival, fair or carnival. You can thank me later.

And I thought of one more: Go to the bathroom before you arrive. Because those Port-A-Potties are killers. I mean it.

What are some things you expect from a fair that would be bizarre to you in normal life?

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