The Maui County Fair is here. I’ve been attending the fair and parade for longer than I can remember. In fact, my grandmother took a picture of me at 18 months sitting on the side of the road, all dolled up, waiting for the parade. She submitted it to that year’s Healthy Baby Contest. When I didn’t win, she decided that the whole thing was rigged and boycotted it for many years.
My first memory of the fair takes place when it was still at the old fairgrounds behind Safeway. My grandparents were working in a booth selling moon burgers. I remember feeling like I was in a sea of knees, so I must have been pretty little.
My grandpa took me on the Ferris wheel, which was nothing like the one that’s at the fair today. This was a contraption straight out of the 50’s”“old and rickety. It was lovely. The beauty about being a small child is that sitting next to your grandfather you feel invincible even when you’re way high up in the air.
When I got a bit older and the extravaganza moved to War Memorial, I remember riding the Gravitron with my brother. The Gravitron was this horrendous enclosed circular ride that made you want to die, or at the very least puke your heart right out of your ribcage. It would spin really fast and plaster you to the wall. It was hard to breathe and the chain-smoking control guy in the middle would just stand there and laugh at all us crying kids.
When I was a bit older, my best friend Susie’s parents would drop a load of script on us and set us loose. I swear, we never waited in line. We were like cutting-ninja’s. Sure, we got the “F” bomb dropped on us by a few grouchy adults, but we’d shake it off and dash onto the ride before anyone could stop us.
Once I took my daughter, who was two at the time, to the fair with my parents. We got her caricature drawn and I introduced her to barnyard animals. She discovered cotton candy and had her first official post-fair meltdown. My whole family rode on the big gondola Ferris wheel.
That night, I ran into my boyfriend at the time who was there with his supposed “ex-girlfriend.” It’s hard to cry at the fair, but I did a lot of it later that night after we broke up.
Several years passed, we worked things out and eventually married. But I was still pissed off about the year my now-husband “totally betrayed me at the fair.” Last year we got into a huge fight about it when the fair came to town, and I stayed home.
Over the past year, I’ve been making it a point to learn to let myself be loved by an otherwise completely wonderful mortal man who has made some crappy decisions in his life. It hasn’t been easy.
“I used to love the fair and you have ruined it for me,” I cried when he brought up the fair this year.
He took a deep breath. “This year, can’t we start making some good memories there?” he asked.
My grandmother is in her late 70’s. She has been going to the Maui County Fair all of her life, which is most of the fair’s 85-year history.
She and my grandpa will be going to the fair again this year as they have for every single year of their marriage, and although nothing has ever been said, I’m sure that it hasn’t always been a bed of roses.
“You’re young and you got a lot of fairs to go to,” she told me.
Coming from her perspective, it is silly to think that my fair going days are over. Not to mention, deep fried Twinkies are really good. Way I see it, my husband owes me about 50… And a stuffed animal. A big one.
Starr Begley inherited the ability to hold a grudge for eternity. MTW