Fabulous fair flashbacks

County and state fairs are in my blood. I look forward to them like a kid anticipates Christmas. I seriously get giddy. This week was no exception with the opening of my first Kauai County Farm Bureau Fair. Not just because I was going to indulge in food and fun, but because it brought back a flood of memories.

As a kid, the fair used to be all about the roller coasters, the bumper cars and paper cones filled with just-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies, a delight never complete without fresh milk straight from a cow’s udder at the Minnesota State Fair.

That indulgence has now been replaced with malasadas, shared with my husband Ken. Yummy! I was lucky I didn’t lose my hand trying to grab my share of the sugary treats from inside the paper bag monitored by Ken.

Then there were the deep-fried Oreos. A cardboard tray of them disappeared in seconds, except the one I was trying to enjoy. I looked at Ken’s powdered-sugar face realizing his look of satisfaction was well worth the loss of the additional calories I really didn’t need.

“Stick” food was always one of my favorites at the L.A. County Fair. I can still remember my first “pork chop on a stick” like it was yesterday. But it can’t hold a candle to the fresh pork and beef I sampled at the Kauai fair Thursday night. Amazing, really! As long as I didn’t think too long about where it came from I was OK. After all, I’d just met Scarlett Johansson, the locally raised prize-winning pig earlier in the day and had fallen in love with her.

You could see the love for the livestock in the eyes of Kevin Souza from Kaleheo on Thursday night. He’s been attending the Kauai fair for four decades and has started passing along the experience to his 6-year-old daughter, Erika. Watching them together reminded me of when my father would take us kids on the ferris wheel. He would stand up, a big no-no, and rock the dangling car – and laugh! My mother would yell at him to sit down and he’d reluctantly oblige. But for a minute, I got to see a rather mischievous side of my dad, a rare occurrence.

Another once-in-a-lifetime memory resurfaced this week: Riding on an elephant at the Olmsted County Fair in Rochester, Minnesota. As a television reporter, I was required to do “stand-ups” from the stories we covered. I thought it would be appropriate to climb on board the pachyderm, until I realized how difficult it would be to shoot me talking and riding in synchronicity without falling off the gentle giant. The outtakes provided plenty of laughs when we returned to the newsroom.

More laughs came in the newsroom from an assignment at the Minnesota State Fair. I’d been working with a news crew interviewing country legend Willie Nelson. I don’t know if it was the sun, sure I’ll blame it on that, but I had asked Willie a question and forgot to move the microphone from in front of my face to in front of his. A tap on my shoulder from my cameraman took me out of my star-struck brain freeze.

Speaking of brain freezes, can you say “Tropical Slush?” I did and it was the perfect finale to a dreamy night. That and the lights of the rides in our rear view mirror as we left Vidinha Stadium for Kapaa resolved to return before it closes tonight.

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