Thursday, September 2, 2010

State Fair!!

The delightful husband and I went to the Minnesota State Fair yesterday.

Yup, we're a sedate and understated group of folks here in Minnesnowta

If you want lovely photos of the sorts of things we saw, you can visit my talented fellow blogger, the Violet Hoarder.

I couldn't take photos, because I can't shoot photos and drive at the same time. I'm clumsy that way.

Yes, we finally wrestled out the scooter, assembled its various (heavy) parts, swore at it a little when it kept refusing to actually move, and finally managed to get it going. Once we nudged it into life, it worked like a charm, and I had a lovely time puttering along in my little machine.

We went to the crafts displays, of course, and to the agriculture, dairy, home improvement, education, and merchandise mart buildings. We puttered over Machinery Hill. We saw James Wedgewood's fun ventriloquist/comedy act,

we saw (as we have done every time we've gone to the State fair in the last 19 years) Sean Emery's juggling/unicycle/comedy act,

we went to the Lumberjack competition/show.

We usually go to the Coliseum to see the horse riding competitions, but those weren't scheduled for that day (drat!), and by the time we were done with the Lumberjacks (and done flirting with the darling baby next to us in the stands), we were pretty much pooped and decided to call it a day. We usually go on the Old Mill ride, but didn't this year because of the delicate state of my hip. We usually go to the animal barns and see some of the judgings, but didn't have time - we would have gone to those if we'd had the time and money to go to the fair again, but no such luck.

Still we did enough and saw enough to have a very pleasant day, indeed!

Well... of course, that wasn't everything. You don't go to the State Fair without eating food that is really, really bad for you! Our food choices were primarily chosen by dint of what coupons were in the State Fair Blue Book (on sale near the Snelling gate and elsewhere, $5 for tons of coupons that save you $2 or more on various food items and a few other things, a good deal if you plan to eat at the fair - and who doesn't?) Plus a few traditional items, because it isn't the State Fair without the traditional stuff.

We were determined to do our share over the 8 hours we were there, so we split an order of... hmmm, let me see:

A London Broil sandwich (steak, sauteed onions and mushrooms, melted cheese - Scott ate most of this, nearish the main gates on Snelling Ave. - can't remember exactly where)

A frozen apple cider stick (I ate most of this over the next hour - an excellent deal at $1 in the agriculture building)

Crab cakes (food building)

Onion rings (outside food building)

Garlic fries ('garden' area outside the food building)

Root beer (just about everywhere)

A Fudge Puppy (small waffle curled around a stick and coated with extremely dark chocolate, sprinkles, and a dollop of whipped cream - I had a bite and it was good but gluten-filled, so Scott ate the rest)

Of course we split a malt from the dairy building (strawberry rhubarb, yum!). And Scott can't go to the Fair without getting Tom Thumb donuts just as we're leaving, because that is Tradition (and because he LOVES Tom Thumb donuts). I took one for the team, and had donuts, too. Because I am self-sacrificing that way. (Tell Scott to quit all that snorting, it's extremely rude)

So as you can imagine, we went home stuffed, and did not eat a single thing for the rest of the day. It was an extremely bad day nutritionally, but delightful gastronomically!

We also purchased a tie-dyed shirt for each of us, and a cup holder for my scooter (which came in very handy - now if I can find a comfortable seat cushion, we're going to really be in business...)

Another wonderful day at the Great Minnesota Get Together!

For those of you who wonder what it is like living in a wheelchair:

Navigation does get a little frustrating in crowded conditions like the fair, because your head is more-or-less at the level of people's rear ends (which is a pleasant view or an interesting one, depending on the rear in question), and people don't tend to look at that level when they are wandering around and gawking at things. Or, perhaps more importantly, when they are backing away after gawking at things. Or, perhaps most importantly, whilst clutching their (third?) beer and walking around while gawking at things (evidently when you have a beer in your hand and you are walking in a crowd of folks on the street, the most fascinating thing about the fair is the sky). Which means that people tend to become challenging road hazards, either backing directly into you or stumbling blindly into the space 2 inches in front of your bumper - it simply isn't possible to stop that quickly, folks, no matter how slowly one is going.

People often don't seem to realize that wheelchairs/scooters are not able to navigate as quickly to avoid sudden potential collision situations as a person on foot. When the crowd parts to reveal a person in a wheelchair or scooter directly in front of you, the person in a scooter or wheelchair can not just step sideways in order to avoid you. And they need a bigger space to slip into than a standing human being needs. It really is simpler and kinder if you would step out of the way, rather than taking a territorial stance.

Display cases and counters are designed for an eye level and reach that is a couple feet above the eye and reach level of a person in a mobility device, so it's pretty hard to see or reach certain things. That makes sense, and there is nothing that can be done about that.

But keep in mind that getting to a counter to buy something can be very difficult, especially if one is expected to reach up to get something from a highish counter. If you see someone struggling with that issue, please feel free to offer your help - it's a small service, but an appreciated one.

It is difficult to get close to the display cases, and to get the right angle so that one can see whatever good stuff there might be at eye level. If there are crowds milling around in front of the case, it becomes nearly impossible. If you see someone in a wheelchair waiting to get a chance to get near a display case, please step aside to leave some clear space. There is a good chance that they are waiting out of courtesy, not wanting to scrape anyone's shins or run over their feet with the heavy equipment - an exchange of courtesy is a good thing, and makes everyone's day a little brighter.

There was one thing that wasn't a problem for me, because I still can hobble very short distances and although it involves some pain, I can wait in line. But the fact is that there is often a LONG waiting line for the women's bathrooms, and if there is a handicapped stall, there is usually only one. If someone shows up in a wheelchair, ladies, please give her room to go in ahead of you (so that she doesn't endanger anyone's feet or legs in trying to do the start-and-stop thing in line) and let her have the next shot at the handicapped stall, even though it means that you will have to wait one extra turn. Remember that she cannot use any other stall, so without that courtesy her wait could be significantly lengthened. If you can't do it out of kindness, do it because you realize exactly what her eye-level perspective is on you - do you really want her examining that particular aspect for an extended period, close up and personal?


Nancy K. said...

It sounds like you had a great time at the fair! I want to go!!! Can you believe I've never been to the State Fair?!

I may see if I can get a friend to make the trip up there with me in the next day or two. I have to be home on Sunday ~ some people are coming to pick up their ewe lambs... :-(

EXCELLENT advice/observations regarding people in wheelchairs/mobility devices!

I do hope you didn't feel sick from all that junk food you ate at the fair!!! ;-)

Delighted Hands said...

Sounds like a great day at the Fair-it is not a day for diets; the menu sounds wonderful! Thank you for a great perspective on wheelchairs....I learned a lot and will feel better equipped to be a good neighbor next time the occasion presents itself!

krex said...

Sounds like a good day out inspite of the less then hospitable vertical set up of the world . At least the fair is accessible, you would be surprised how many places and activities aren't accessible for the women I work with and it's very sad feeling when you go some where and see a "wall" keeping "your kind" out . I know it really hurts there feelings .

Roberta said...

MMMM...Garlic fries. I think jet propulsion should be added and people should just get out of the way of your scooter...but thats just me. And Rich. That is what happens when you live with geeks. They want to add more power.
Beware, next time you go use it.

mrspao said...

I'm just thinking about Garrison Keillor and deep-fried cheese curds. I'm glad you had a great time!