The road to teachable moments at the county fair is swamped with temptations.
It would take a solid 10 minutes at least for an adult to get from the entrance gate to the stalls where the cows, pigs and goats are being preened by their owners for judgment. But it took at least three times that time to cajole my preschooler to get moving.
“Look! Ice cream,” he said longingly as we walked past the first of too many sweets vendors on our way to the animals.
Cotton candy, fried dough, lemonade, and of course, fried oreos are but a few of the foods strategically located to grab the attention of the wide-eyed fair goer.
At the Montgomery County Fair, though, food is only one of the many tantalizing items on display before getting to the barn stalls. A child would have to be fast asleep not to notice and be enticed by the games that offer tantalizing prizes including life-size Pikachu dolls and plush teddy bears, and rides that go up and down, right and left, fast and slow to cater to all age groups.
“Fish! Can I get a fish?” my son squealed past one booth that promises winners a real live fish if the player succeeds in throwing a ping pong ball into a tiny fish bowl.
“No fish. But you can play one game later, after we’ve seen the pigs and cows,” I declare as I pull him forward among the crowd.
“When is later? I see cows all the time. Let’s play a game,” he whines.
I want to whine too. It’s hot, it’s crowded, the smell of fried foods mixed with grilled meats is not exactly tantalizing, the noise from the rides is deafening, and I’m getting tired of insisting on feeding a child’s brain before his stomach.
But finally, as feet drag and tempers are tested, we are finally greeted by that most welcome of smells: manure.
A half-hour since we get into the fairground, we finally catch a glimpse of our first goat, and my son and I are finally on the same wavelength.
“That’s a goat, and it’s going to be judged for being the prettiest goat or not,” I tell him.
But what really gets my four-year-old are the pigs resting in their stalls, many simply lying next to one another for an afternoon siesta, while other munch away at slosh even as they sleep.
“He’s so big and cute,” squeals my four-year-old at one particularly large pink-and-black pig.
“They’ll get plenty of bacon out of him,” I respond, partly because I’m still frazzled by the long walk.
“I know. And ham too,” my son responds knowingly.
“And you still want to eat pork?”
“Oh yes,” he says with a big smile.
So much for feeling like Cruella de Ville.
One suggestion to all parents of young children. Don’t miss the rabbits on display. This city girl had no idea that bunnies came in so many different colors and sizes, from little brown mini rexes to the big furry white angora rabbits. Some are even on sale, so you can even take one home instead of vying for a huge polyester plush bunny you may or may not win by shooting cans at a stall on your way out.