It was crowded. Really crowded. So crowded that when we finally found a spot to park, I’m pretty sure we were in Webberville, or maybe even Williamston. We were definitely more than a hop, skip and a jump away. Ah, but no matter. We piled out of the car and headed to the fairgrounds.
We were there to do three main things:
1. See the Herman’s Lippizzan Stallions, which would be performing that night at the grandstand.
2. Ride some rides (it was $1 ride night).
3. See some 4-H animals.
We had about a half-hour to kill before the Lippizzan show began, so we walked over to the 4-H barns and visited some of the goats and bunnies and cows (or steers, or beef, or whatever they’re called – I’m not a cow guy).
We also had to stop – of course – and do the pony ride. Now, we have two horses at home, so you would think that riding a pony would be no big deal for our girls. Well, if that’s what you would think, then you would be wrong.
“Can I ride the ponies, Dad?” 6-year-old Lottie Beth pleaded. “Can I?”
Of course. Even though we have perfectly good horses at home that she rides all the time, there’s still something special about sitting on top of a fair pony that goes around and around in a circle. I get it.
After that, it was time for the Lippizzan show, so – along with half of Livingston County – we headed over to the grandstand. My word, was that place packed! I knew the Lippizzan Stallions were a big deal, but I had no idea how big.
As you’d expect, our girls were thrilled to see the stallions in action. After all, the two horses that we have at home aren’t exactly Olympic champions when it comes to doing tricks.
Our bigger one, Daphne, is the one the girls ride most often. Most of the time, she has two main tricks that she likes to do:
If Daphne’s in the mood to be ridden, she does Go. If she’s not in the mood, she does Stop. And that’s about it.
Our smaller one, a mini named Daisy, has one main trick that she does: Stand There and Look at You. She does this trick again and again and again, all day.
So yes, it was exciting for our girls to be able to see some horses that actually DO something. And even I have to agree, the Lippizzan show was extremely cool. The horses were beautiful to look at, and their stunts were amazing.
The most impressive one was when the horses would show how they fight – they’d go up on their back legs, and then they’d punch the air with their front legs. Very impressive. In the world of horse tricks, it was much better than Stand There and Look at You.
After the show, it was time for … RIDES! Yippee!
Because our girls are almost seven years apart, they’re in two separate ride categories. Lottie Beth has graduated from the kiddie rides (the little motorcycles that go around in a circle, the little boats that go around in a circle, etc.) to the next level up. She can ride the little caterpillar roller-coaster and do the big slide with the burlap bags – all of those.
Amelia, meanwhile, will be 13 next month, so she’s a full-fledged grown-up in the world of carnival rides. She likes to do anything that flings you in the air or spins you around so fast that you’ll inevitably lose the elephant ear that you just ate.
Lottie Beth had a friend and a cousin to ride with, but Amelia didn’t have anyone, so guess who got drafted. Mom? Wrong. Dad? Right.
I was a good sport (I really had no choice). I only refused to go on one ride with Amelia – the spinning one that sticks you to the wall with centrifugal force – but I did all the others. And no, I didn’t lose my elephant ear.
As the night wound to a close, we decided to take one last walk through the 4-H horse barns. Back in the day, this was our home away from home at the fair, back when our oldest daughter Chelsie was a 4-H horse kid.
We were having a nice time visiting with all the horses, and then we came upon a wonderful sight. At the very back of one of the barns, resting in a stall that had been beautifully decorated by her owner, was a feisty Morgan named Beamer.
Beamer was Chelsie’s first show horse. We had her about 12 years ago, and for my wife, seeing Beamer again was like running into an old friend.
An old friend you didn’t always get along with.
“Why, you little thing!” Kathy said to Beamer. “You still don’t like me, do you!”
Kathy and Beamer had their moments way back when, and as soon as they laid eyes on each other, Beamer’s ears went back, just like they used to. (This apparently means a horse isn’t particularly happy.)
But Kathy was smiling a huge smile all the same, stroking Beamer and remembering all the great times Chelsie had with her.
A perfect ending to a perfect night at the Fowlerville Fair.
You can reach Buddy at firstname.lastname@example.org.