Friday, January 21, 2011

Miscellany: The South Florida Fair

The South Florida Fair is an annual fair held in Palm Beach County, Florida. The Fair's been a fixture of West Palm Beach for decades, and I recently paid them a visit. I remember first attending as a gradeschooler, and, to be honest, it hasn't changed much. Here's a little tour of the magical sights, sounds, and smells (ulgh) of the Fair:

The heart of the Fair is the Midway, a smörgåsbord of neon lights and movement. While there are some tame rides for the youngsters (a ferris wheel and a sky tram), most of the Midway's rides are guaranteed to make you vomit:


Traditionalists will be pleased to know that there are still "freak show"-type booths operating in the Midway. Most of these rely on pretty cheesy gimmicks, but I guess that's half the fun:


Agriculture still plays a huge part in the fair exhibits (much of the county's economy comes from agriculture, actually). For kids raised in the 'burbs, this is probably as close as they'll ever get to a farm animal:


Fair food is really expensive, and the quality can be iffy. Still, there's just something magical about being able to get chicken on a stick, fried Oreos, and a pulled pork parfait in one place:



There are plenty of carts selling all manner of overpriced Chinese-made plastic toys. When you're a kid, though, you think all this junk is actually worth something - and you'll bug your parents to buy it for you:


One thing I never noticed as a kid was how many vendors are at the Fair. People sell all kinds of tchotchkes - foot massagers, cookware, leather belts. It's like a grown-up version of the junk peddlers on the Midway:


Here's Matt from the Palm Beach County Model Railroaders showing off their Fair exhibit - a full on miniature railway, complete with model trains equipped with onboard wireless cameras. The cameras transmit to overhead monitors, giving visitors an interesting, close-up look at the exhibit:


The most common show at the 2011 Fair is Tyzen, a comedy hypnotist. He's a pretty funny guy, though he shies away from stunts that are too physical:


There's always a little melancholy leaving a fair, no matter how many times you've been. The noise, the shows, the crowds...the whole experience is unlike anything most people get in their day-to-day grind. No matter how expensive, garish, or stupid some of the stuff is, you just can't help but look forward to next year, when the Fair will come around again...

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