Monday, July 28, 2008
Extreme Sunday Funday, This Week's Theme: AMERICA (and Fried Food)
Yesterday I discovered fried Oreos.
Yes, you heard that correctly.
I know this might seem overwhelming, or a snacktime impossibility only dreamed of by stoned college students or 6 year-olds, but it’s true. I discovered fried Oreos and I ate one. Well, half of one. (They are seriously intense). But where, oh where, did this life-changing experience take place? Why, at the Orange County Fair of course!
I grew up going to fairs in Maine. I know that sounds a little odd—and it’s not like I grew up with carnies or anything like that, but in Maine, especially in the rural parts of the state, there are fairs. My favorites include the Fryeburg Fair, the Common Ground Fair, the Yarmouth Clam Festival, and my personal love—the Cumberland County Fair. So when I hear fair, I think livestock competitions, giant pumpkins, potato sack slides, fried dough (funnel cake did not exist at Maine fairs when I was growing up), and either a lot of hippies who live on farm & garden communes or Neo Con red necks.
I had low expectations for the OC Fair, thinking nothing could quite match up to the fairs of my youth, but was pleasantly surprised—and it all comes down to the Fried Oreos, the world’s largest steer, and a death defying ride on a chairlift.
I was bitching and moaning about the $9 entry fee (remember, I am very, very cheap) but was promised by my friend Annie (and future roomie... replacing former #2—which is a whole other story) that it was more than worth the price so I lined up with the rest of my friends, handed over my money and stepped into what I can only describe as 150 acres of gluttony, over stimulation, and AMERICA.
Oh and fried. That was a big theme—everything was fried. Anything you want could be fried. Hence, the Oreos. Also available to be fried were Twinkies, frog legs, chicken, artichoke, zucchini, and SPAM. Yes, SPAM. I didn't know SPAM could be any more unhealthy than it already is. (I will admit I spent a summer on a very intense month-long sea kayak trip where I ate a lot of SPAM for breakfast. At the time, I thought it was delicious. At the time I also thought Kevin from the Backstreet Boys was God's gift to man, so that's not saying much). If fried SPAM isn't a heart attack in one sitting, I don’t know what is. But the OC Fair wasn’t just about fried food. Oh no, those delectable battered Oreos were just the topping on a smorgasbord of treats. There were stands with Greek food, Mexican themed booths, cotton candy, caramel apples, popcorn, whole turkey legs, bratwurst, and falafel. It was a legitimate World’s Fair of food. Check out some of the options in this photo:
There was also the Convention Hall of Products (or Conventional Hall of Crap, as Ditonto noted) filled with different booths offering a lot of junk you never knew existed or would ever want, ranging from bizarre office supply type knick knacks to zipper covers (or something) and one of my favorite stands, which was essentially ever kind of seed or nut coated in butter toffee and sold in packets that ran for about $5 each (the sunflower seeds were awesome).
Okay so clearly there was a lot of food. The livestock was less impressive. There was, however, the largest steer in the world. I mean this was a giant animal. Per the signs on the barn housing the sad, probably sedated beast, this steer had 1,000 hamburgers in the hoof. So that’s nice and disturbing. There was also the world’s biggest horse, aptly named Hercules, but as I had only reserved $1 (yes, that was one dollar, again, I am very cheap) for large animal viewing I opted for steer over horse.
As to be expected at a fair with an impressive food roster and such a freakishly large steer, there was an also an abundance of rides. It was pretty much the standard ride options—the Ferris wheel, small roller coasters, slides, trapeze—but maybe three of each, and then a less dangerous version for the kids. There was, however, one ride I had never before seen at a fair before—a chair lift!
What a novel idea! Taking a chair lift from one end of a fair to another? Why, what could be more fun?
Turns out, just about anything could be more fun. Riding a chairlift over a lot of people below enjoying turkey legs and paying exorbitant amounts of money to walk through “The Moscow Circus” is terrifying. First of all, I was convinced the entire ride, which was the longest ten minutes of my life, that I would lose one of my beloved flip flops. I also realized how unsafe a chair lift was, or at least this one was, especially when traveling at that excruciatingly slow pace and when there isn’t a mountain of snow to travel over. Also, for some reason it’s just a lot better when you are wearing skis and a lot of padded clothing like snow pants and a puffy jacket.
Even though I spent most of the chair lift ride gripping the “safety” bar (hardly safe) for dear life, it was a pretty great way to see the lay of the land. How else would I have known there was a giant wrestling tournament going on? Or where I could go for a ride on the giant circus elephant? Or more important, the closest food stand with the fried Oreos!
I survived the chair lift unscathed and have a new appreciation for the ease with which I ride those things whenever I go skiing.
Also worth mentioning is the Rock Band tent. Rock Band is one of the greatest videogames out there right now, if only for the fact that you truly can grasp Sting’s musical prowess when attempting to master songs like “Roxanne” or “Synchronicity II.” While some of us were enjoying the fine act of masticating a turkey leg the size of my shin, Ashleigh and I wandered over to watch some brave souls exhibit their Rock Band talents for anyone in the general listening vicinity. Then there was Buddy. Buddy got up with a few friends (and I think Buddy was maybe around 10 years old, a nice chubby kid who clearly was having the time of his life at the fair) and took on “Roxanne.” Buddy was horrendously tone deaf but eager to work the crowd and after not too long had assembled a good throng of people bumping their heads while he screeched to not put on the red light. The dude running the Rock Band tent got Buddy to get back up for a rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive,” which he also hilariously butchered. He really went the extra step though, that kid. He started yelling that whoever sang loud would get a free t-shirt, prompting the Rock Band guys to follow his lead and start chucking promotional shirts into the crowd. (Obviously, I won a shirt, as I have a serious ability to scream loudly—although some middle-aged Mom attempted to steal my shirt out from under my eyes. People these days).
And I have to say the night really peaked when I discovered Orange Julius (yes, back to the food options, in case you hadn't heard enough. I love Orange Julius, Strawberry even more so, and haven't been able to get my hands on one of those since the Maine Mall food court circa 1993. It was a nostalgic moment. And then we got funnel cake. And then, to finish off the evening right, the six of us shared a massive funnel cake. Soon thereafter, as was to be expected. I wanted to vomit.
Photos are forthcoming (meaning, when I get home from work and can provide the visual accompaniment to this recap). Trust me, you want to see what that 11-foot long giant steer looks like. Oh and I have video of Buddy. He’s the next YouTube sensation.