Living Wright: Fond festival memories motivation to get back to the fairgrounds
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Thursday, September 06, 2012
9/06/12 at 4:35 AM
Go to Jason Ashley Wright's BlogOriginal Print Headline: Fond festival memories motivation to get back to the fairgrounds
I've never been propositioned, kidnapped or even given candy by a carnie.
For whatever reason, I grew up in Laurel, Miss., thinking the fair was a breeding ground for tragic stories about missing Southern Baptist children who didn't listen to their parents' warnings about the fair's evil offerings - and carnies were the culprits. I'd picture some sordid cross between Pinocchio's Pleasure Island and an episode of "Law & Order."
I'm not sure which relative to blame for that, but it's a warning that plays like a news crawl below my childhood memories of fairs - or, most precisely, my lack of fair memories. Poor carnies ... Most are nice people, from what I've gathered at a distance.
Anyway, with our being on the cusp of fair and festival season, I've been contemplating my fondest fair recollections, all of which have taken place in Tulsa.
My first festival to attend was Oktoberfest. Here barely three months, I wondered, eyelids practically propped open, at the mass of people crammed under one tent doing the chicken dance, which I'd never seen before. It and the "Macarena" are the only two repetitive dances I've found that work with any kind of music. Or so I used to think in my 20s.
The next year (maybe - you'll understand my confusion shortly), I attended the Bluegrass & Chili Festival - the last year it was downtown. Two co-workers and I were asked to be "spirit judges," for which we wore black judges robes and had to go booth to booth judging chili contestants' spirits or whatever. Part of the gig involved taking bribes, which usually came in the form of liquor shots or Ritz crackers with that spray-on "cheese" in a can. Not wanting to offend, I took the shots - but I vaguely recall telling the cheese pushers that I was allergic to dairy. Or, as the shots progressed, aerosol.
A year or so later, I went to the Tulsa State Fair and was blown away by the variety of foods impaled on sticks. It was fabulous, and my favorite was the chocolate-dipped cheesecake on a stick. So much better and much less messy than "getting friendly" with the chocolate fountain during your best friend's party. I miss that fountain.
The past couple years, I've been a festival fuddy-duddy. I haven't been to the fair in four years, maybe five. Oktoberfest? Not since 2006. And I haven't been to the chili festival since it moved to Claremore.
But in case the Mayans are right about 2012, I figure I'm overdue for a festival. If nothing else, I feel compelled to go, have stick food and help squelch stereotypes about carnies. The ones who don't offer candy, anyway.