It is widely said that, in order to make it rain, one only needs to wash one’s car. The people in our community, however, know that this is utter fallacy, a laughable load of hogwash. What one actually needs to do in order to usher in the first of the seasonal rains is to greatly anticipate, anxiously await, and excitedly attend the annual fund raising fair. To increase the chances of a downpour, I’ll straighten my hair. Done deal.
This year there was even more reason to look forward to the fair – as the first year at its new premises in decades there was to be even more space for stalls, games and rides, and the prospect of flat ground as opposed to the steeply sloped property of yesteryear made it all the more alluring!
Saturday morning dawned slightly cool and breezy but it looked to be a good day. We had a plan. We would get every chore and errand out of the way by lunch time, eat at home so the various sized tummies didn’t drain the bank accounts too badly, and then head out to enjoy a long, tire-out-the-kids, fun filled afternoon. We were meeting up with friends, all minion naps had been timed well, and our notoriously late-for-everything family actually left the house on time. Pulling up to the fair ground, we drove past the miles of cars parked along the side of the road and sailed straight up to the entrance, waved in by a guard who told us that a single parking had just been vacated. Score! Things were right on track!
And this is exactly why we should have been suspicious.
The weather, which had admittedly been getting a bit choppier as the day wore on, suddenly and dramatically decided to bare its teeth the second I opened my car door. The wind started howling and, for a city renowned for its warmth and sunshine, it was positively icy! As we started getting the kids out of the car the first drops of rain started to fall and I won’t lie, I very nearly insisted on retreating to the warmth of my lounge, armed with hot chocolate and a dropped lip. However, more of a drizzle than a downpour, we decided to risk it. We had made such a big deal of this afternoon, building it up in all of our minds and really looking forward to it, we might as well give it a chance. Weather is, after all, a fickle friend, and I would expect nothing less than sunshine the second we left. We were going in!
With the superior venue, increased size and carefully selected vendorship, the revamped fair did not disappoint! With hardly a sign of the usual ‘junk’ that so often dominates flea markets these days, it really was a proud collection of all things local and artisanal, from specialty coffees to beautiful plants, woven baskets and delicious smells coming from the many food stalls. Thank goodness we did not come hungry! The place was bustling with people, and, typical of life in a small neighbourhood, we enjoyed bumping into friends and familiar faces. Although I won’t say I had completely forgiven it, even the spiteful weather didn’t seem like a deal breaker anymore.
The Schmoo took about three seconds flat to find and pair off with her bestie who was manning her own stall, selling the coolest slime you’re every likely to find (@yellowsliems- holla!), and ‘the babies’ sprinted off through the greyness towards the rides, insisting that they wanted to ride the roller coaster (which was actually a ferris wheel.) We hurriedly forked out, bought heaps of tokens and ran off after them, only to discover that the tokens were only for the games on the other side of the fair. To ride on the rides you needed to buy tickets, and it was too late to say no because our kids were already merrily ‘sailing’ along on a boat ride. Four tickets, please. Sigh.
The babies looked like they had settled into the rides zone, so we bought a decent number of tickets just in time for them to decide, as young children are so skilled at doing, that they actually hated the rides and didn’t want to go on anything else. OK, we thought, no problem, we’d try again later when they had forgotten that they suddenly hated the place that they had passionately loved two seconds before. At least we had enough tokens and tickets to keep everybody entertained for the duration of our stay!
Our friends arrived (minus a working husband) and a thousand year reunion welcome was exchanged by the little ones, including an Oscar-worthy performance by the girls, our daughter and Goddaughter- a sprint from across a field, arms outstretched, clinging to each other like Jack and Rose on that door. It had been 6 days since they had seen each other. Just saying.
What followed was about 20 minutes of elated screeches, soggy fire engine rides, slime poking, gleeful grins and muddy pony encounters by the kids, and shivering, foot stamping, coughing and money producing from the grown-ups. The rain started to come down with a bit more intent, so we dragged our broods off to huddle under the slime stall and enviously watched as The Schmoo, BFF and BFF’s mom (who also happens to be my BFF if anybody wants to know. We’re economical like that.) merrily sipping on hot coffee while trying to decide if anybody would miss them if they called it a day and abandoned ship – the weather really was not doing anybody any favours.
With pockets still full of tickets and tokens we decided to admit defeat. Maybe the weather would be better tomorrow. As we were making our way to the exit, who should arrive, but my friend’s husband, fresh from his morning at work, ready for a day of fun at the fair. That’s what his script said, at least, but the look on his face said “what are we doing here in this misery?! Is it home time yet? Where’s the coffee???”
The kids, however, decided it was candyfloss time, so off they went with daddy #2 to the very other side of the world, in the rain, to hunt some down. At the last minute I decided to tag along, and it was then, trotting along after them, wet hair plastered to my face, clothes uncomfortably damp, that I had a revelation – I had an umbrella in my handbag!! I have no idea why I hadn’t thought of it sooner, but there it was, the ironic cherry on top of the cake.
We made tracks, both the literal, muddy kind and figurative getting-in-the-car-and-leaving kind, and took ourselves home where it took us about 2 seconds flat to crack out the rusks and coffee (never have they been more enthusiastically welcomed).
Although it had ended up being a different kind of fun and excitement to what we had anticipated, although we now have a gazillion plastic tokens and paper tickets that we can do nothing with, and although my friend has been generously rewarded for her selfless act of standing in the rain and wind so that her brood could have a blast with a nasty bout of bronchitis and a popped rib cartilage from coughing so badly, we’re already looking forward to next year. Call us suckers for punishment, but there is truly something magical about fairgrounds, muddy puddles and community.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and pack my flat iron away for the next time we are affected by drought.