Sunday, May 03, 2009

Beef Fest the Third

This weekend was the Allied Gardens Springfest, which I've previously written about here and here. Springfest has become a holiday for our household, one with rituals, if not relatives. But we don't call it Springfest, because anyone can do that, and because the first year we took Jarrah she misunderstood the name and pronounced it "Beef Fest." Also, one of the rituals is waiting in line for the-best-tri-tip-you've-ever-had-at-a-fair, so it just fits.

Beef Fest is a two-day event, beginning with a Friday night party under the stars on the cool grass of Allied Gardens Rec Center. Jarrah was clamoring to go as soon as I got home from Nia at 6:00--she'd been watching them build the rides in the park for the past two days. We headed out, hungry and hopeful, and the tri-tip did not disappoint. Jarrah managed to finish her hotdog even though she swore to us there would be no eating until after she'd ridden the Frog Hopper. Apparently, she changed her mind.

The Frog Hopper is one of those vertical lifts where you fly up and then bounce down, a few inches at a time, and the look on Jarrah's face when this happens is priceless. Meanwhile, I had my eye on the swings. I had to endure an interrogation about my weight (truly the best part of any celebration--when a total stranger asks you how much you weigh--wouldn't you agree?) but I persisted, and before long J and I were flying above the park, our hair practically tangled in the jacarandas. In short order, I learned that I don't much care for this ride. I've been on the (much bigger) swings at the Del Mar Fair and I adore those, a gentle floating above the midway, lights twinkling in the corners of my eyes. But these were...too small? Too fast? Too something. At any rate, I wasn't dizzy or sick, just absolutely certain that my brain was being wrung out like a sponge and might possibly squeeze to freedom through my ear, all while I pretended to enjoy myself. I thought of boats, and tried to focus on the horizon or Jarrah or whatever I could think of, but that was no help--in fact, it seemed to make it worse by adding the sensation of my stomach trampolining into my throat in a way that was terrifying if not nauseating. So I just focused on the ride ending, and that seemed to do the trick...eventually.

When we finally slowed, Jarrah was all "Again!" and I was all "You crazy!" But it wasn't bravado--she would ride that thing at least twice more before Beef Fest ended. Meanwhile, I asked David to keep an eye on me in case I started slurring my words. Another round on the Frog Hopper and a spin on the Dragon Ride and I was more than ready for an activity that did not involve careening around in circles. Too bad I didn't find one.

We wandered over to join the crowds dancing around to Rockola, who aren't kidding with that name. They were awesome. Some poor saps were actually sitting in lawn chairs, but what the hell were they thinking? Jarrah and I started shimmying around on the grass, and David stood between us like an unshakable mighty oak--the man is immune to the groove. (Not me--I can't tell you how many times I've been doing some elaborate theme and variations on the Charleston to some embarrassing '80s song while scrutinizing the cereal boxes and have nearly hit the ceiling when a stealthy stock boy says "Can I help you find something, Ma'am?") Anyway, Jarrah decided it would be fun to use David as a sort of prop post, and before I knew it, I was running around in circles to a whole lot of screaming. Our other dance was kind of like two-person moshing, where we smashed into each other, fell over and cracked up. The music blanketed the balmy May evening, and I was sweaty and smiling and feeling fine.

One of the best things about Beef Fest is, when you get tired, you walk around the corner onto our street, and once again all is hushed and serene. And so we shuffled and yawned our way home about 9:00, knowing we'd be back in the morning.

And back we were, this time with Stephanie, Shaun and Nathan in tow, all properly pumped for the event of the season, per my instructions. We started with the parade, for which we had prime curbside viewing, even if it was a rather muddy perch. We figured out last year that sitting at the very beginning of the parade route is key, because the "floats" (really, they're just cars) throw fistfuls of candy (rather violently) at spectators, and they are overly generous at first. Indeed, within minutes Jarrah had more Laffy Taffy, Starburst and Double Bubble in her handy reusable shopping bag (also a parade giveaway) than she did at Halloween, and she didn't have to walk an inch to get it. It was really an embarrassment of sugary riches. We also collected leis, beach balls and beer cozies, along with the odd tube of toothpaste and brochures about neighborhood churches.

I guess the economy has the parade downsizing, because I would have sworn it was like two hours long last year, and this year it clocked in at a scant 45 minutes. We didn't even have a chance to get bored of the endless stream of elementary school principals before we were saying "Hey! I've seen those Shriner Funny Cars before!" and it was all over. Oh well. We crossed the street into the heart of the Fest again, and by the time you could say "Frog Hopper" the parade was forgotten for another year. I do love it, though.

Shortly after, we were happily joined by Mary, Paul and Joy (Jarrah's Chongqing cousin), and the rest of the afternoon (complete with farmer sunburn for everyone) flew by in a procession of rides, jumpy obstacle courses, trained dogs with Frisbees, circling ponies named April and Chocolate, bluegrass, high school kids playing AC/DC from "School of Rock" and a whole lot of lolling in the grass, slurping shave ice on a sultry, lazy day at a Fest that feels as small town as it might have in 1957, when Allied Gardens came to be. A real neighborhood. My neighborhood. Here's to next year!


Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Ain't life grand?

katydidnot said...

you and she look so happy and beautiful. apparently you shrugged off the weight inquisition quite well.

Jen said...

Those pictures are priceless! I especially like the one of you two on the ride where you're clearly just spinning by.

What a fun weekend!

Miss J

erin said...

My kids have to bully and berate me to get me to ride rides with them, I'm usually not afraid of dying, mainly I'm afraid I'm going to upchuck all over one of my children, which would be the most horrible thing ever in the history of the world.
But I always end up riding with them cause I figure there's a chance that one of them might puke too, and then I won't feel so bad.

Type (little) a said...

Ha at the weight inquisition. And I can't believe how big and girl-like young Jarrah is.

DrSpouse said...

Sounds like you're going to need that toothpaste...

Caroline said...

Yes. It's confirmed. I love you. :)

"I can't tell you how many times I've been doing some elaborate theme and variations on the Charleston to some embarrassing '80s song while scrutinizing the cereal boxes and have nearly hit the ceiling when a stealthy stock boy says 'Can I help you find something, Ma'am?'"

Stephanie said...

It was a fabulous day! Can you believe I accidently formatted my camera before downloading the pics? I really should not be allowed near electronics of any kind. I guess there's always next year!

David said...

Stephanie, those pictures are still recoverable. You took so many, I was hoping the see what you got as it was such a fun day. Do a google search on extract deleted or formatted flash cards.

Just don't take any more photos with that card, as it will write over that recoverable data.

Aunt LoLo said...

oh, that is just so much fun!!! I love the pictures of you and Jarrah on the rides...and I love that you have this "neighborhood carnival". What great memories!!
(Oh, and tell that snooty carny worker that you weigh less than you did three months ago! hehe)