Fair Is Fair

As part of our nice, relaxing mini-vacation, I got to drive to Tampa twice in three days.

OK, that makes it sound a whole lot worse than it was, but we probably could have planned a little better and only made the drive once.  But hey, we were living spontaneously, so repeating a two hour round trip was no big deal.

First up, we hit the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City (not technically Tampa, but close enough).  And it was your typical county fair experience.  Loud.  Crowded.  Lots of large farm animals who you can tell don’t get out very often.  And that’s just the people.

All right, just kidding.  Granted, there were some pretty strange-looking characters running some of the rides on the midway.  But as Hannah said, that’s part of the fun:  fearing for your life on what could be a forty-year old ferris wheel.

Speaking of fearing for your life, it’s amazing the number of things that can be deep fried these days.  Deep fried candy bars.  Deep fried Oreos.  Deep fried Pepsi.  Even deep fried butter.  No kidding, they had deep fried butter.  Perfect for when you decide to just give up and kill yourself before you’re 50.  Although the Oreos were rather tasty, and not at all what I expected.

And of course there were the games, where some high school student probably being paid in ride tickets begs you to spend five dollars to win a stuffed animal that you can probably buy for a dollar.  And there was the one huckster who said we should try to win a doll because we “had one on the way.”  Which we don’t.  But thanks for telling my wife she looks pregnant.  Now kindly shove your knock-off Stewie doll in an inconvenient spot.

The obligatory strawberry shortcake booths were everywhere, and all equally crowded.  I’m not a fan of strawberries, and plopping them on cake with some whipped cream on top doesn’t make them any more appealing, but judging by the lines at these booths, you’d think strawberry shortcake was legally outlawed aside from these ten days out of the year.  But Hannah loves strawberries, and we managed to find a little out-of-the-way bakery with no lines and a much better-looking version of the shortcake.  Perseverance paid off.

And we got to watch pigs run in a circle.  Can’t beat that.

Two days later we went to the Bay Area Renaissance Festival in Tampa proper.  Now first of all, this really had nothing at all to do with the Renaissance.  Granted, paying money to watch a bunch of people rediscover the classics isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, so I can understand applying the term loosely.  But I’m also pretty sure the Renaissance isn’t remembered for pirates and elves, both of which were in plentiful supply.  So it was more a Wear Swords and Tights Festival.

But you can’t deny the enthusiasm on display.  These people were seriously into it.  So much so that many of them seemed to forget that their various, um, physical imperfections don’t magically disappear simply because they’re wearing chain mail.  Or, to be blunt, being in costume doesn’t make them not fat.  It’s sort of like what goes on with people who dress up like Klingons at sci-fi conventions:  if they were actual Klingons, chances are good they’d have been dead years ago considering the shape they’re in.

Another odd thing was the fact that in the area that was dedicated to the Irish Festival in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, they had more Scottish things going on that anything.  Highland games, bagpipes, haggis, the Loch Ness Monster, you name it.  The Scots had the Irish pretty well outnumbered, much to Hannah’s consternation.

But it was still fun.  We got to see some full-on jousting in which our chosen champion won thanks to well-timed shield bash to the head, Hannah finally got to pet her long-awaited goat, and we saw two grown men fling mud at each other.  Which, from a historical perspective, was probably the most accurate depiction of medieval life we saw that day.

Sadly though, no pigs running in circles.


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