COME TO THE FAIRE
31 August 2003
When you live in a state like California, and you live where we do, near the capitol,
in the central valley, and also driving distance to San Francisco, you find that there are
countless opportunities for summertime activities and, indeed, activities throughout the
There is the garlic festival, the broccoli festival, the asparagus festival, the
artichoke festival. There is Lambtown, Gold Rush Days, the annual Jazz Festival. There are
Scottish Games and bike races and wine festivals. We are 10 miles from the county fair 15
miles from the Dixon May Fair, and 20 miles from the state fair--close enough to smell the
deep fried orios, I swear.
It seems like each week end throughout the year has its own small town celebration, all
within a short drive from home.
Yet, with all this abundance, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of
times in 30 years that we have actually gone to any of these events.
When the kids were younger, we went to the county fair a couple of times (once I was
smart and labeled the back of each of the kids' shirts, as they were quite young at the
time. This turned out to be a very wise thing to do, when we lost Tom and within minutes
heard our name paged over the loudspeaker--fair officials had just read the back of his
shirt). We went to the state fair a couple of times (I remember the year Jeri walked her
"invisible dog" around the fairgrounds). We've never been to the Jazz Festival,
the biggest event in this area each year. We've never eaten french friend asparagus or
artichoke ice cream. We've never attended bike races, even when the route takes them
through downtown Davis.
We just never go.
A big part of the reason why has been that I didn't want to haul all my weight around
under the hot sun, so I just never suggested it.
Throughout this past summer, as I've reviewed shows at The Music Circus and we have
driven home each night through Old Sacramento, we keep seeing a new restaurant: Joe's Crab
Shack. Each time we pass it, we say "we should eat there some day."
This afternoon, I did some serious rearranging in the family room and as a result,
there is a tall pile of stuff on the kitchen table, which will be removed tomorrow. But I
took a look at the pile and thought it would be a lovely night to try Joe's Crab
Shack so I didn't have to figure out how I was going to serve dinner with all that crap in
Besides, I told Walt, I had heard they were having a "thing" in Old
Sacramento and it might be fun. The "thing" turned out to be Gold Rush Days.
The streets are covered with dirt, and horses and horse-drawn carriages are everywhere.
Employees and guests alike dress in period costume and there are all sorts of activities
and demonstrations. (We missed most of the activity, since we arrived too late, but were
in time to catch ambience).
We parked the car on the fourth floor of the garage and then, rather than wait for the
elevator, walked down the stairs, then up a hill to the river and then from there we kind
of zig zagged through the streets, looking at the displays, taking pictures, and looking
After we'd been walking around for an hour and a half or so, we wended our way back to
the river, with our ultimate destination Joe's Crab Shack. When we were standing by the
railroad station and I was snapping pictures out at the paddle wheeler on the river, Walt
said that it was amazing the difference between me today and two years ago. He pointed out
I would never have suggested walking down the stairs, would have had to stop a couple of
times in going from the garage to the river, and would never have said "do you want
to walk over to the other end of town."
I had to admit he was right. I was feeling just fine and enjoying myself, and realizing
that two years ago, I would never have suggested attending this event. What a difference a
few pounds makes!
When we got to Joe's, we discovered there was a 2 hour wait (if only we'd known that we
would have put our names in when we arrived and THEN did our walking around!), so we
decided to go elsewhere, which was just as nice, but without a crab menu.
At the end of the evening, a crescent moon was shining over Tower Bridge as we walked
back to the car. I had considered walking up the four flights of stairs to the car, but my
knee was starting to feel like it had had enough walking for one night--and besides, I was
so full of dinner I felt like I was waddling already.
But it was a very nice, impromptu afternoon. Maybe one of these days I'll suggest we
get out and try french fried asparagus or something like that.