Four middle-aged folks with good appetites but certain physical limitations could do only so much damage to the culinary offerings on Labor Day, bur damned if we didn't try. We started at around 10:15 with a new addition to the Universal Fair Foods list (i.e. frozen bananas, corn dogs and the like), chocolate-covered bacon. This comes semi-frozen in a little takeout container, four pieces (plus a totally unnecessary packet of salt!) for $20; the covering is actually a very good dark chocolate, and the bacon had a nice crunch, but alas not a lot of flavor. They really need to get their bacon from Kentucky if they're serious about this. It did give us a nice start to the day, though.
After watching a lamb being born and viewing other mostly appealing (and much less soggy) livestock, we stopped at Dr. Bob's ice-cream place, of which we had read much good on this board. Y'all spoke truth: this is great ice cream. We had blueberry, dark chocolate, vanilla bean, and cranberry sorbet, all excellent; Mrs. O also had a taste of the soy sauce and said it was amazingly good, though not what she wanted just then. I'm thinking a single-scoop cup or cone is about $3.50, but since mine was bought for me I could be wrong.
Perhaps an hour or two later we were ready to settle down for lunch. We found a semi-shady table in the alley across from the art museum, and not coincidentally in the thick of plenty of food vendors. Our friend Mrs. M and I queued up for the Juicy's BBQ & Sausage, then I realized that their sausages do not include Italian, which is my de rigeur Fair Food, so I skipped over to the Italian joint on the east side of Bldg. 5 for a proper Italian with peppers & onions ($8), then scored a pint cup of Rolling Rock ($10) at a draft-beer stand on the way back. Our buddy M had been brought a BBQ sandwich from Juicy's, and Mrs. M was now off in pursuit of a King Taco taco. Mrs. O finished her frozen pink lemonade and set off at this point looking for anything interesting. My sausage was in most ways satisfactory, though I remembered that the ones I'd buy at the Tennessee State Fair, which I usually had to consume squatting on a curb, would drool juice down my forearms and off my elbows, while this one was utterly drip-free. Nice spicy flavor, though. I didn't get to sample the BBQ, since it was gone by the time I next looked up, so I guess it was OK. Mrs. O showed up with a Zucchini Dog, which she'd expected to be vegetarian but it wasn't, and she still needs to explain that to me. Mrs. M finally got her taco after waiting in two different lines forever; it was good, but she said from now on she'd stick to their real-world locations.
For dessert, I figured I'd get some fries from the kinda fancy-looking place that was advertising "Frys" along with their bloomin' onions. That was a mistake, and I urge everyone else to avoid it: the fries were thin, and the proper color, but at the same time soggy and flavorless, and the so-called "ranch dressing" was not even good enough to have come from a decent mix. Six dollars very poorly spent, and I'm damned glad I didn't get one of the more elaborate versions.
It was mostly bottled water (and another pink lemonade for Mrs. O) for the bulk of the afternoon. The women went shopping in the erstwhile exhibit halls, now sadly given over to acres of As-Seen-On-TV crap, while M and I amused ourselves by looking at outdoor spas, then wandered up to the rail museum area, to which I had never been. That turned out to be huge fun (among other things, I discovered that the WW2-era Big Boy loco is 9 1/2 months younger than I am!), though I quickly began wishing that the bells and whistles were operated automatically, rather than by any noise-lover who might be in the driver's cab. Incessant clangage and hootage made conversation occasionally difficult. Then around four or five o'clock we decided that a sit-down and a glass of wine sounded like a really good idea, so we called the Missuses for a rendezvous in the Home & Garden building down the hill, where the wine-tasting hall is. That is a very good deal: flights, tastes and glasses of all the Medal-winning wines for quite reasonable; don't remember what flights and tastes go for, but a glass, one of those stumpy 6-oz. plastic stems poured full, was either $6 or $7 (I'm guessing it must depend on which sort of medal it had gotten, though I could easily be wrong). One of Target's "Black Box" wines was among the offerings, but we both picked a pinot noir whose name I can't remember, too bad because it wasn't particularly good. The place and the servers are extremely welcoming, though. Highly recommended.
After more wandering around amongst the Home Improvements, this time in cool gathering darkness, we came to the edge of the main midway. Mrs. O was making noises about wanting to go on the Zipper or something, when the M family suggested a ride on the Skyway, their treat. We did, it was fun, and then there we were the better part of a mile from the Midway again. So we all got various dessert items (a corn dog in my case, $7 and very nice), and then after more pleasant conversation discovered it was getting on for 9:30. So we re-boarded the Skyway, headed for the gate this time, and took our very footsore leave. I'd spent about $35, with nothing to show for it but a tummy full of fat and carbs, but I went to bed happy and slept like a baby. Only not so soggy ;-)
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