National Geographic : 2009 Jul
EDITOR'S NOTE PHOTO: JOEL SARTORE WITH CHARLES RASH Thrill seekers take a whirl onarideat the Texas state fair. I got busted at the milk shake stand at my first state fair. My father had dropped me off along with my prize hog at the Salem fairgrounds for the Oregon State Fair's livestock competition. He paid for a week's food and lodging in the 4-H dorm and went to visit his parents for the day. When he returned, we went to the Dairy Bar. It came time to pay for my milk shake. I was broke. My father asked what I'd done with all the money he gave me. I confessed I'd spent it all in two hours on the bumper cars. Garrison Keillor would have understood. "The state fair," he writes in this month's feature, "is a ritual carnival marking the end of summer...and the start of school and higher algebra and the imposition of strict rules." Strict rules are for later. The state fair is about now---and the chance for a 12-year-old to cut loose before a new school year. With corn dog in hand (to eat food with two hands is one of the ten top joys of a state fair, Keillor observes), I was strolling down the boardwalk when the bumper cars called. I got behind the wheel. Time and quarters raced away. Extreme centrifugal force is number two on Keillor's list of state fair joys. He mentions the double Ferris wheel and flume ride. Sissy stuff. I'll take the bumper cars every time.