This year’s trip to Deerfield Fair was bittersweet. It ended up being our only camping trip of the season since money has been tight, but it is a tradition from Phil’s childhood and we have carried it on since Josiah was a baby.
I knew it would be tough… before it all went down, I realized with anticipation that I would be wearing maternity clothes and would experience another Deerfield camping trip being pregnant (like I did a couple years ago when Addy was in my tummy). There are lots of memories of being pregnant and having babies with us for the journey, but this year kind of threw a wrench in the works.
Of course I expected to see lots of pregnant women, but there happened to be one crossing the road just as we were turning into the entrance, and I was like, well, here we go… We had a wonderful time, the weather held despite forecasts of rain, and the chill in the air kept the crowds down. I only cried a few times, mainly at certain areas of the fair where I had hoped to buy something for Shiloh.
We love the fair for its agricultural purposes – the farming, animals, different shows and attractions… but of course the kiddos like the rides. We let them each pick a few rides, but we don’t go overboard.
This year, Addy thought the amusement park section was a “playground,” and didn’t understand that she couldn’t just go on anything she pleased. We knew she would get tired from all of the walking around, so while we did let her go on foot part of the time, Phil wore her in the baby backpack, where she was a happy camper. When Meme and Pepe go along, like they did this year, they generously let the kids pick something to buy. We weren’t sure what Addy would be interested in, and I remembered the fiber arts tent (with sheep, goats, llamas, alpaca, and various booths made with their fur). Sure enough… she found this wonderful, smooth, shaggy bear and wanted to take “her baby” home right away. The hair on this thing is just like Addy’s! We had recently seen Ponyo, so that’s what Addy named her. On the last day, we caught a dance act, and Addy tried to dance along with them on the grass doing twirls and various acriobatics – it was a riot! Doesn’t her hair look red in these pictures?
Josiah and Daddy both love to look at the big machinery; in fact I tease Phil that the only reason he goes to the fair is to try and get a good deal on a trailer, tractor, wood planer… We watched a tractor pull, which honestly was a little boring for me, but the boys love it. Actually, they love anything that involves dirt and grease and loud noises. Why is that?!
Both Gwen and Josiah have gotten better at showing interest in things other than the rides… but oh, the grins on their races when they go on! We also go on the ferris wheel as a family, which is always fun. Gwen is kind of like Mommy – she loves to see the animals and coo over the cute creatures. Right after breakfast in our camper, we go through the animal barns and petting zoo before it gets crowded. There were lots of baby pigs this year, one of them a brindle pig with beautiful coloring – I wanted to take it home with me! Last year it was hot, but this year the chill had us craving hot drinks, so we often walked around with hot chocolate or hot apple cider – yum!
Aside from the animals, another one of our favorites is the sheepdog herding demonstration, which we catch every year. I have no idea what local farm they come out of, but I think it’s fascinating how they work with their dogs. And we finally managed to catch the the Flying Wallendas act in its entirety; their high wire act made me nervous! BJ Hickman’s magic act always has us laughing… the kids in stitches.
A family member on Phil’s side owns a traveling children’s zoo, and it’s always a lot of fun to walk around their tent and see the animals. The last two years they had a baby kangaroo, and this year Meme and Pepe shelled out some coins to feed the animals who acted like they hadn’t eaten for days. Addy got a pony ride, and Gwen and Josiah had their first camel ride – ah, milestones!
Probably the biggest event is the Free-For-All Horse Pull on Saturday night. You have to get to the stands early if you want to get a seat, and this year we packed dinner (I made tailgate sandwiches) so we wouldn’t have to fight the crowds. The kids get tired and antsy, but we pack snacks and it’s neat to watch the horses. Big ol’ draft horse teams keep taking turns pulling a sled with weights on it, more and more weight is added till they can’t pull anymore, and the team who pulls the most weight wins. It’s exciting to see what will happen and the energy in the audience gets pretty charged towards the end. I love those draft horses – they’re gentle giants!
One of the things I do NOT look forward to is all the work and preparation that goes into the trip. Not only cleaning the camper and packing the stuff, but prepping food and making meals ahead of time. It’s nice once we get there, though… we don’t have to eat the greasy, over-priced fair food and we can take a break and go back to the camper when we want. There are some exceptions, though… cotton candy. And I’m not talking about the pink kind. I’m talking about the kind they make in the maple barn… maple cotton candy. I love the stuff! We always get a small bag to share, and I wanted to get another just before we left, but they were sold out. (pause) I took it as a sign.
As bittersweet as the trip was, it was bittersweet coming home. It’s always so nice to spend so many days in a row together as a family, doing something special, having fun. And now, back to the Real World.