Friday, September 18, 2009

State Fair

Yesterday I represented my employer and alma mater at the state fair. The university has a booth there each year and asks representatives from various departments to work there recruiting future students and greeting alumni. Yesterday was the first day of the fair, so I expected things to still be fresh and clean. But it’s the fair. One can’t expect too much.

My shift was scheduled to begin at 6:00. I left the office at 4:00, about an hour early, so I would have plenty of time to park, walk, and grab something to eat before I was to report for duty. Unfortunately, I encountered a serious traffic backup due to an accident on the Interstate. I was able to exit and take a back road for a few miles and avoid some of the mess, but I had already wasted precious time. When I arrived at the fair, there was another traffic jam, so I decided to just park far away and hike. Even though it wasn’t actually raining when I got there, it had been raining so the “parking lot” was pretty soggy. There were some cars stuck in the mud, but I carefully avoided the muddy spots and found a nice, clean spot on the grass. A bonus of attending the fair on the first day!

Another bonus of attending the fair on the first day is that it is Dollar Day! This means exactly what it sounds like it means. Admission is $1. Now, the regular fair clientele isn't the classiest group, but you can imagine who comes out of the woodwork for dollar day. My experience in the public relations booth was fairly uneventful this year. Last year I met some pretty interesting characters, but this year the crowd was pretty tame. I did meet the artist who designed our clock tower and the same lady who wanted to take our mascot home last year stopped by to try to take it from me again this year.

I had my annual state fair corn dog…two, actually. And some questionable lemonade from the hospitality room. I never knew there was such a thing! There is a secret lair where fair vendors can partake of free drinks! Each booth is given two hospitality room tickets at the beginning of the fair (not to be re-issued in case of loss or theft, so keep them in a safe place!) that vendors must present to get into the room. It’s serious business. The hospitality room supervisors carefully inspect your ticket and write something in code on a clipboard. I was glad to play their game, though, because they saved me big bucks on refreshments.

The fair is supposed to close at 9:00 on weekdays, but my booth partner and I saw no signs of traffic slowing down at that time. We were both tired, so we went ahead and straightened up the booth, vacuumed the carpet, and stashed the laptop at 9:00. As I was leaving, there were still people walking toward the gate. I’m not sure what goes on at the fair after it closes, but I doubt it’s something my parents would approve of. I found my car, waded through the mud to get to it, and then strategized on how to get out of the boggy parking lot. I cranked up the four wheel drive, crossed my fingers, and drove toward the opening between two parallel-parked cars. Fortnately, I made it without incident. I got home around 11:00 and hit the sack immediately after scrubbing the state fair off of me with antibacterial soap.