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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Fair to Middlin'

I am, by nature, a kind of a stick-in-the-mud. I want to go places and do things, but when the time comes to do them, I think it's just too much trouble and expense. Why should I change my comfortable routine just to go on an exciting vacation, huh? I wanna stay home.

This is where Niles always has to step in and insist, and I whine about it right up until the time we get back home, at which point I decide I had a terrific time and wanted to stay longer.

And that's why I didn't go to the Maui County Fair last year. "Oh, I'll get down there and I won't be able to find it; where do you park, anyway?; it'll be a lot of walking; I don't want to go on the rides by myself; what's the point?" And Niles was not around to make me go.

But I love county fairs. I have many, many fond memories of going to the fair with my grandparents in Indiana. And in Missouri, I actually won a blue ribbon for my brownies when I was about ten.

And this is Maui! A county fair on Maui! How cool is that??

So this time I decided to ask my friend and fellow stick-in-the-mud Tommy G to come with me. Tommy has lived on Maui for thirty years, and last went to the fair in 1988, so he figured it was time to go again.

I was going to take my camera, but decided at the last minute that it would be too dark to take hand-held pictures. Tommy brought a digital camera, so he will be today's photographer.

Photo by Tommy G

Tommy and I agreed that our main interest was in the agricultural exhibits, not in the rides and games. Tommy expressed a strong disinclination for the rides in particular. "There's only one cotter pin between you and DEATH!" he explained. I thought perhaps the Tilt-A-Whirl would be safe enough, or perhaps the six-foot-high roller coaster, but didn't press the point.

Below we see the Starship Enterprise, decomissioned and humiliated. (No, sadly, it wasn't really a Star Trek ride, or I would have defied the cotter pins to do their damnedest.) Next to it is "Pharaoh's Fury". The white circles are the spirits of cotter-pin victims, futiley warning people away. Either that or dust on Tommy's lens.

Photo by Tommy G

(What's funny about this is that Tommy is a keen motorcyclist, riding what is known in the vernacular as a "crotch rocket" -- I forget the exact type. He's also given to riding mountain bikes down actual mountains. He says the difference is that, on his bike, he is in charge. I didn't tell him that he only thinks he's in charge. Isaac Newton is actually in charge at all times.)

As agricultural exhibits go, the fair left much to be desired. Any county in Indiana, even the urban counties, would die of shame to put on a fair this lame. There were only about half a dozen cows (mostly from one ranch), no pigs, two or three horses, and three alpacas. Plus a bunch of rabbits, many chickens, one pheasant, and a chinchilla.

It was interesting to see the many varieties of chicken: Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, Jersey Giants (which were indeed giant), and one rooster whose breed was given as "Cockzilla".

I assure you, no good will come of doing a Google search on "cockzilla".

After viewing the animals, we wandered over to the plant exhibit, taking the back way around the midway, a dark passage through which strange, pungent odors wafted.

Inside the hall o' plants, there were flowers:

Photo by Tommy G

Mostly gingers of various kinds there, with birds-of-paradise on the right.

And more flowers (orchids this time):

Photo by Tommy G

You know, those are designed to lure you in. "My, what pretty flow---AIEEE! OH MY GOD! HELP!! HEEEELP!!" But the tendrils bind you fast, exuding a substance which slowly dissolves your flesh. If you're lucky, a rescue team will arrive in a month or two, and put you out of your agony.

Note the volcano in the background. It had a river of orange "lava" running down the side, and I kind of remember it chanting things, but that might have been due to the effects of the pungent odors we walked through on the way over.

And, at last, fruits:

Photo by Tommy G

Try not to be frightened by the fruits on the upper right. The red things are rambutan (from a Malay word meaning "gelding"), and the things next to them are hideous bloated larvae from some species of flesh-eating insect. Sorry, my mistake, they're noni.

The fruits included a wide variety of passion fruit. You must be 18 to view this image:

Photo by Tommy G

The most numerous fruit represented were avocados. Tons of avocados. In stark contrast to Indiana, however, there was only one corn entry, and I'm sorry to say that it was not up to Midwestern standards. It won a blue ribbon. (On the other hand, the avocado section of Indiana fairs tends to be pretty sparse, too.)

As we were staring at the fruit, Tommy said, "You know, Maui's most important agricultural product is not represented here." And I replied, "Dude, I think we walked through the marijuana exhibit on the way over here. Didn't you smell the fumes?"

I was keen to see the Home Ec exhibits (cooking, sewing, decorating, etc) -- I wanted to know what kind of brownies won blue ribbons on Maui[1] -- but there were none. Instead there was a "Better Living" exhibit that turned out to be filled with purveyors of healing crystals, aromatherapy items, feng shui services, massage therapy, acupuncture, Verizon wireless, etc.

One of the joys of going to the fair is eating things that are bad for you. I looked forward to a bit of this. I was eager to sample again the dubious delights of the corn dog (Tommy: "Made with real dog!"), but we didn't see any.

In Hawaii, however, you don't just get the corn dog, the funnel cake, and the cotton candy. You also get: loco moco, musubi, poi mochi, pansit, braddah pops, chicken hekka, dry mein, chow fun, malasadas (dang, missed those too), and lau lau. (As given here.) If you want to know what half that stuff is, you'll have to google it, because I have no clue. I see that the Boy Scouts were selling pronto pups (same as corn dogs), but I didn't come across them.

So, that was the Maui County Fair. Exciting, eh? Can't wait 'til next year!

[1] This marijuana joke was made entirely inadvertantly. Please enjoy.