Saturday, September 20, 2008

Alabama State Fair

Back a few years after having been unceremoniously discontinued, the Alabama State Fair was a real treat for my kids this weekend.

Although it's a shadow of what the state fair used to be, the attractions set up at the Verizon Music Center (a.k.a. Oak Mountain Amphitheater) covered all the traditional bases for fall tradition that once lit up the whole west side of Birmingham. Admission prices were reasonable (although the $5 for parking seemed a tad extortionary) and the option of tickets for the rides, or all-inclusive hand stamps was a nice one. Once inside the food and drink prices were high, but nowhere near Six Flags territory.

I enlisted Grandnan to come along and help manage the outing, and it was a good thing, although the place was not as overcrowded as I'd anticipated it might have been. There were animals on the petting zoo in place of the old agricultural contests, all good-natured and gregarious with the exception of the young dairy cattle. Carlie got to ride a somewhat sullen-looking pony, but the rest of the 'herd' seemed well-tended and happy.

All the old favorite rides were represented, including one big and one not-so-big Ferris wheel. There were the cars and boats kids could pretend to drive, a somewhat rickety-looking and decidely rough-handling roller coaster, a carousel, gallery games of skill, and one attraction that I had forgotten was far, far from being a favorite of mine when I was young: The Tilt-A-Whirl. It was only after Griffin and I had boarded did I remember the ride pushed my nausea threshold to the absolute limit. It did again Saturday, but I kept it together. Perhaps college partying and my experience with the 'I-will-not-barf' mantra paid its dividends all these many years later.

Tasty but decidely unhealthy food favorites were also well-represented, to which we paid our homage at the corn dog and nacho stands. Pondering the existence of a deep-fried Twinkie almost rekindled my weak stomach. Bur slushys and sno-cones washed it all down and kept things cool.

A rain shower coincided with us being tired and ready to say we'd seen and done enough on our day at the fair. It's still going for a few more days, and features concerts at night. Here's a link for anyone interested