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Parenthood, Adventures, Family

The O’Donnells Take On the Fair

The Summer of Awesome is moving along (much faster than I anticipated) and an absolute activity for any summer is a trip to the Alameda County Fair. Every year I’m reminded how dirty and expensive the fair is but nonetheless, I find myself year after year looking forward to it. In recent years, Ryan has started entering his wine into the amateur winemaking competition so now we have the added benefit of going and seeing Ryan’s wines adorned with many shiny ribbons. We’re all very proud. And super competitive.

This year, upon entering the fair, we noticed a new stadium that appeared to show monster trucks and demolition derby type of events. While we were there, we watched an enormous monster truck drive erratically around the stadium while carrying willing passengers all in the name of good ol’ Murican fun. I mean come on, the truck not only had giant American flags hanging off the back but a bald eagle airbrushed on to the front! If that doesn’t get you excited about America, I don’t know what will.


Trucks, dust, danger and America.

A tradition we have adopted since we introduced the fair to our kids is the photo booth. Ryan knows that as soon as we get to the fair, I have to take my annual family photo. One year I lost the photo while we trekked around the fair and I was so distraught over the thought that we missed a year, I made us all go again so I could get another one. I take my traditions very seriously.


2009 – 2015

I don’t know why the fair makes me crave crap but I find myself in those merchandise booths–the ones that look like everything is traditionally sold out of the back of a van–and I find myself saying, sure, I could use that shoulder bag. I was able to control myself for the most part and only walked away with this giant straw hat because you know, everyone needs a giant straw hat.


She’s easier to spot in a crowd now.

In typical O’Donnell fashion, we found ourselves at the wine & beer garden where we spent an exorbitant amount of time drinking because that’s what we do. The kids were frothing to go on rides so we dropped an actual brick of curly fries in front of them and between that, the music and our new family member, the straw hat, the kids stayed relatively entertained for a good while so we could enjoy our dinner in the form of fermented grapes.


Clearly the bartender liked Ryan more than the rest of us.


Drinks and entertainment

Once we had consumed all the wine, we made our way to the rides where we were reminded once again that the fair is expensive. Since the kids aren’t tall enough to ride most of the rides by themselves, an adult has to join in and of course if one kid has an adult, the other kid wants an adult so automatically every ride has double the participants. For a sheet of tickets we thought for sure would leave us with plenty of rides, ended up being just about forty-five minutes of mediocre thrills and some slight neck pain. The kids thought it was the greatest thing which either is wonderful or incredibly sad that my children think the fair rides are Class-A entertainment.


Tickets worth a small fortune.


I’m embarrassed for her.


“Don’t worry–it only spins a little bit” The biggest understatement of the year.


More spinning


Intoxicated Ryan sitting front row of a roller-coaster is risky for the rest of the passengers.


He made it!

After we burned through our ride tickets, we took a detour for Sno-cones and soft serve. As we enjoyed our treats, the kids somehow got sucked into some kind of child/animal show. I blame the wine for not fully understanding my surroundings. One second, I’m watching a Jack Sparrow impersonator and the next thing I realize my children are dressed up in animal attire preparing to take the stage.




Word to the wise, keep an eye on your children or you could find them dressed like this and talking to a stranger.


And then standing on a stage, growling like a tiger.

We bumped into friends, saw the strange, bizarre and curious, enjoyed many delirious laughs, walked away with an obligatory fair toy and became the proud new owners of a giant straw hat. I’d call that a success. Here’s to another memorable fair outing.


The strange


The bizarre


The curious


The faces of fair domination.


‘Twas a good night.

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