Amanda C. Waid writes about mastering the young adult life, but she also dabbles in writing about travel destinations.
Welcome to the Fairgrounds!
A few times a year, every town or city is excited to welcome a new fair. They set up camp at the fairgrounds or in a local mall's parking lot and stay open all week. The smell of rather questionable food items begins to drift in the air, and the rides are up and running in ten minutes flat. The electric cords drape across the ground and assist every flashing bulb in lighting up the surrounding sky as the trashcans quickly overflow onto the sidewalk. Hundreds of people flood the gates, all sweaty and hungry for adventure.
Does this sound like your kind of crowd? Read our top ten reasons why you shouldn't participate in any fair ever again—some of them may surprise you.
1. The Games Are Rigged
Everyone wants to knock the pins over or toss a ring on the clown to win a giant teddy bear for their loved one, but how often does this happen? Sometimes the rings are too narrow to even properly fit over the obstacle you're throwing at. The balloons you are trying to pop are made of extremely thick rubber and are rather difficult to pop unless you take a BB gun to it.
Ultimately, these side attractions are great ways for boys and men to attempt to look gallant for their dates, but in reality, you are just going to end up broke with each attempt you make. These booths are quick and easy ways for the company to make a lot of money off of its participants.
2. Sometimes the Rides Are Faulty
If you have ever been lucky enough to watch the fairground be put together, you know that most of these rides are similar to the pages in a pop-up book. The ride workers simply open the trailer and the ride pops up. They add a few extra bolts to hold the weight, and there you go—a large ride ready to swing 15 to 20 people at a time upside town and in fast circles.
The equipment used at these fairs are rarely replaced, and while they do have regular maintenance, this only includes greasing the tracks and the brakes from time-to-time. When a ride squeaks and groans and wobbles the entire time it is in motion, it should definitely not be trusted.
3. There Are Lots of Germs
Germs are a serious problem in the majority of public places, but fairs can be the worst. In this type of crowded, external gathering of people, where proper hygiene is not a concern, germs spread like crazy. There are portable potties available for use, and a sink with soap is rarely ever in sight, though sometimes there is Germ-X available at food stands.
People wipe sweat and runny noses with their hands and then touch the same railings to climb onto the rides as you will. The couple ahead of you probably licked their fingers after devouring a rather sugary funnel cake, and now it's your turn to push open the same gate to get onto the Ferris wheel.
Thousands of viruses and bacteria linger on the railings and handles of these rides and games, and each person picks them up and leaves some of their own. These germs can be the root cause of upper respiratory infections, flu, or at best the common cold. Germs are everywhere!
4. The Entertainment Is Questionable
Often the fair hosts a variety of entertainment shows to give a little something different to the crowd. This can include a small circus act, or rodeo, or perhaps even a few go-kart races. These entertainment shows are very nerve-wracking. Oftentimes, the entertainers aren't certified or even an expert in the act that they do. We are lucky if they have practiced the act more than a few times.
Watching a circus that travels with the fair makes me grip my hands together until they turn white. Mainly my fear is for their safety, but also because the lack of laughter is more impressive than the stunts. I'm glad these side acts are free, I'd hate to see the riots of people demanding their money back.
5. There Are Children Everywhere
Like the mall, many parents drop their kids off at the local fair so they can spend a few hours alone without paying for a babysitter. Walking the fairgrounds with your spouse or your best friend proves difficult as kids run past you, almost knocking you over.
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It doesn't seem like following rules or being polite matters if you're under the age of 18. These kids will cut in line, curse, and make rather dramatic scenes about their boyfriends when we really couldn't care less. Fairs aren't like what they use to be when you could go expecting to have a beautiful and peaceful time, it has become a daycare.
6. The Ride Workers Are Rude
Not that I feel perplexed about whether or not I should go to the fair, but it automatically makes me regret it when the workers don't look or sound like they want to be there either. It is understandable that you are going to be doing the same repetitive things for 14 hours a day and for seven straight days at a time. However, my experience is not made better by your frowns or angrily barked instructions on how to not step onto a ride.
I don't think I have seen a fairground ride worker that looked happy to be there. The ones in the game booths don't count because they have to be personable to make money. It makes me even depressed for you for making you do your job and make sure I am safe.
7. There's Vomit All Over the Place
It never fails, if you don't get sick, someone else will. If you don't see it, you will almost surely step in it (or very nearly). Even if you don't find it on the ground, you will smell it . . . or hear it.
Many of these rides are vomit-makers. The way they spin and toss a person around makes it difficult not to make a person seriously nauseous. The horrible fair food; the corn-dogs, funnel cakes, fried Oreos and Twinkies, can make anyone regret their digestive intake. Climbing into a ride that is going to spin you and throw you isn't exactly a cure.
Besides, there is the worst-case scenario, where the person beside you or in front gets sick and you find yourself ducking for your life. But the little girl on the other side of you isn't so lucky, and begins to cry, and daddy has to come get her off the ride because she is covered in some gross that's not hers. I've seen it happen!
8. The Lines Are Outrageous
The best time to go to the fair is at night. The lights are bright and of every color, and the view from the Ferris wheel is often breath-taking. Of course, everyone else knows this too. School is out and people are off work and the fairgrounds tend to become crowded. The lines are long and often wrap around other rides. Sometimes they line-up across the path and people are having to make there way through the lines and decipher which line is for which ride.
Ultimately, the fair is a waiting game. Waiting in line, waiting for the ride to start, waiting and hoping the ride will end, waiting for the bathroom, waiting to order food, or waiting for the show to start. Lines at the fair are my least favorite because they are filled with hormonal impatient teenagers, and the heat of the summer tends to only make attitudes worse.
9. The Food Is Questionable
Possibly the scariest thing in the world is fair food. The food sold at the fair is very unhealthy. The food is heated or fried and covered in either salt, butter, or sugar. The Polish sausages that you order are raw and frozen on the inside still, and the deep-fried cookie dough that you ordered might have come at the expense of someone's forearm. It's difficult for me to enjoy my food if it has injured someone.
The booths that sell food can be filled volunteers looking to make a quick fundraiser and have never been trained in food preparation. The food sold at fairs is a curious thing. I think the health departments from each city should approve their food preparation and storage before it is sold to the public. Otherwise, diners can get food poison in a hurry.
10. The Portable Potties Are Disgusting
The worst part about going to the fair is going to the small ones that only have portable toilets for you to use. There are no sinks available to wash your hands and no toilet seat covers to use. The 'porta-potties' have tiny windows at the top and no air is let in. A person often has to sit in the hot enclosed area breathing in the same air and activity that took place before them.
You will never notice if the toilet paper is out until you get in there, and there will always be a kid who can't read that it is occupied, and will knock and knock and pull on your door handle. This becomes a nauseating rushed performance so you don't suffocate in the smell of another person's excretions or have a surprise exposure from the 8-year-old really needing to pee.
You Can Go to the Fair...or Do Something Else
A person may still enjoy the fair and the little things it has to offer. However, it has never been an experience that I have really wanted to remember. You may still want to go and enjoy the fair, but just remember our top ten reasons why you should probably just rent a movie instead.
© 2014 Amanda C. Waid