Sucker for the midway

Yours truly. With an emu. On the carousel.

Yours truly. With an emu. On the carousel.

My name is Matt Villano and I’m a sucker for a carnival midway.

I’ve been a midway maniac for most of my life. I play games. Lots of games. I’ve never seen a ping-pong-ball-in-the-goldfish-bowl game I didn’t like. I can’t whack enough moles. I love shooting water into a clown’s mouth. And I wholeheartedly embrace the challenge of knocking down three milk jugs with one bean bag.

I chose this forum in which to come clean because, well, attending carnivals always is better with kids. And because the county fair has been going now for the last two weeks. And because I just went with my kids and their two cousins.

You read that right, people: This year I hit up our local county fair solo, in charge of four kids between the ages of 3 and 14.

I like to think of the experience as EXTREME FAMILY TRAVEL: One almost-40 dad and four kids brave 100-degree temperatures to go on rides, pump their veins full of sugar and shoot baskets until their wrists fall off.

We took a wagon for my girls. We alternated between little-kid rides and big-kid rides. And—of course—we snuck in dozens and dozens of games. We won a few fish. We won 19 stuffed animals. We even won some silly little necklace.

Along the way, I taught L and R how to bash rubber frogs from catapults and on to lily pads. I gave my niece and nephew a crash course in fair food (Lobster Corn Dog 1, Niece & Nephew 0).

Oh, and I must have spent like $500 in an afternoon (seriously).

Still, IT WAS THE FAIR, which means, it was a blast. Some traveling parents may strive to avoid these types of chaotic environments like the plague. I, for one, embrace them wholeheartedly. Whether I’m 30 minutes away from home or 3,000 miles away from the nearest national border, if there’s a carnival midway, I’ll be there. Experiencing it all with my kids makes the fun even better. Which is precisely why I don’t plan to break this addiction any time soon.

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