Fair Monkey

Kongo loves county fairs. There’s something about hot, sultry August afternoons, the smell of cotton candy, the carnival barkers, and the crowds that makes the monkey feel right at home. The Ventura County fair is like that. It’s not nearly as big or as sophisticated as the Los Angeles County Fair or the Del Mar Fair in San Diego. Now those are real fairs. Ventura County is kind of like your neighborhood 4th of July Parade with kids on bikes and dogs decked out in red, white, and blue. It was just right.

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Kongo was actually forced out of the house and made to go to the fair. Mrs. Kongo made him do it. Out of town guests are coming this week and Mrs. Kongo was in her usual OMG I have so much to do mode. “I have to clean and you have to go. I will be cleaning EVERYWHERE and you are in the way.” Faced with the prospect of either getting sucked into floor scrubbing or dusting or cleaning bathrooms and doing something else, the monkey suddenly realized he needed to go to the fair and out the door he went.

Kongo’s first stop at any fair is always, always, a food stop. He has to have one of those huge, warm, cinnamon buns slathered in white frosting and topped with chopped nuts. Next you have to walk around and eat it while trying not to get all that white icing on your fur or worse yet, dropping your prize in the dirt. The monkey has had a lot of practice at this so there weren’t any problems.

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Next he wandered down past the pig racing arena to the equestrian events. There was a lot of activity going on and it was all pretty interesting. In the image above a young woman is getting coaching for an upcoming event known as “combined driving.” People in carriages drive around a track and are judged on appearance, deftness in handling their animal, and a bunch of other things the monkey didn’t really understand. The monkey knows the difference between a horse and a pig and a carriage and a skateboard but he’s not clever about these things. The big wheels on the carriages are interesting and it seemed to make for a pretty smooth ride. The horses are all spiffed up. The one above even had its tail braided and here’s something the monkey definitely did not get. There’s a rule book for these competitions, a pretty thick one actually, (yes, the monkey looked it up after he got home!) and one of the rules states that you should never, ever, not in this lifetime, braid the tail of your horse. Huh? The guy is holding a ribbon so he must know something about this or maybe they don’t follow the rules too closely in Ventura Country. Maybe a gentle reader will let the monkey know what this is all about.

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In this competition you wear old-style clothes, hats (of course) and in this case the woman donned her pearls. Why not? The animals are made to walk, slow trot, strong trot, stop at a pylon, back up four steps, and sing Mariah Carey’s song about Wild Horses. (Actually, the monkey just made the singing part up.)

Most of the competitors were grim faced, showing intense concentration as they went through their paces. Most of them but not all. Kongo’s favorite competitor was the seasoned horsewoman below.

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Now this lady has been doing this for a while. Her hat is perfect, love the broach, cool gloves, and notice the way she holds the whip in one hand and the reins in another. She’s a pro. Love her smile and that twinkle in her eye. She would NEVER braid the tail of her horse and Kongo is pretty sure she could tell a horse story or two.

In the end, it’s all about winning and bragging rights.

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Kongo moved on to the photography exhibits, the home arts display where there were rows upon rows of cookies on plates. They looked good and it just goes to show how honest people really are in that several days into the fair nobody had stolen those delicious looking cookies off their plate. There was also a model train exhibit and the always riveting Minerals and Gem display.

There were lots of lambs in the sheep barn. Kongo missed the shearing competition and next year he’ll check the schedules more closely. The light inside the livestock barns is always good.

It’s not Southern California if there aren’t young women performing Mexican dances at the fair. This was no exception. You can bake in the sun, eat your hot dog, down a cool beer, and tap your feet along with the dancers. Life is good at the fair.

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The exhibit halls hold all the stuff you never knew you needed. Kongo smiled at the acupuncture sweeties, shook his head politely at men with tattoos urgently pushing new windows, doors, air conditioners, water purification systems, miracle car waxes, and cooking gadgets that turn carrots into palm trees. He blatantly ignored dire warnings about RADON IN YOUR HOME and firmly said “zero!” to the guy who wanted to know how many Cutco knives he needed today. He shrugged off advances from the Republican Women for Trump cabal and winked at the cute little old lady staffing the California Democratic Party booth but didn’t buy a button. He did buy a short cone of warmed up honey-coated, sugared almonds that were pretty good.

After three hours Kongo texted Mrs. Kongo wondering if it was safe to come home. She replied “I’M STILL CLEANING” but since the monkey’s iPhone showed traffic on the freeway he took a chance that she would be done by the time he made it back. She was still cleaning so the monkey did the safest thing possible and took a nap.

Travel Safe. Have fun.

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