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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Carnival…

I’m starting to think the annual Fall Wilton Family Carnival is a sign of the coming apocalypse.

Just what we needed, another stuffed animal!

Actually our family now proudly owns three more stuffed animals and a 5-ft. tall blow-up alien. All thanks to last weekend's Wilton Family Carnival, sponsored by the Wilton Rotary Club.

Please understand, I am not begrudging the Rotarians for bringing the carnival to town. The event raises much needed funds for all the good deeds and charitable efforts these dedicated volunteers commit themselves to throughout the year. Locally, nationally and internationally the stated purpose of the Rotary Club around the world is service, and that’s wonderful.

But oy vey!  What we Wilton parents go through in the name of Rotarian service!

I think we woke up the Monday or Tuesday before the carnival and discovered the Tufano crew had already pulled into town overnight and begun to set up camp. The set-up progressed over a few days in the craftiest marketing ploy this side of the Rocky Mountains. For it’s nearly impossible to live in Wilton and have children and not pass by the carnival grounds. Located within spitting distance of three out of our four Wilton schools, just down the road from playing fields, the Wilton Y and Comstock, and nestled alongside the heaviest travelled roadway in town, you have more chance of catching bubonic plague than missing the carnival corner.

After four days of whining, kvetching, pleading, begging and squealing about going—each and every single time we passed the carnival spot—our fate was written in stone. We were Dead Parent, Walking and the path ended right at the ticket booth.

There’s never a point in trying to figure out what’s the affordable way to go, because somewhere along the line you know you’re basically blowing your children’s first year of college on the one night visit to the fair. Rides, games, food, more games, more food, and another trip back to the games to make sure everybody gets to come home with some trinket or another to show for the evening—it’s seriously possible to blow your month’s entertainment budget in one fell swoop.

Speaking of the games, when did they start charging $5 a pop? I remember when one round of ‘throw darts at the balloons’ or ‘Whack-a-Mole’ cost $1 or $2 at most. And yes, we’re at the point where—at least with our oldest—there’s a tight limit on how much spending money we’ll give him to enjoy the carnival with his friends, but any extras—games, cotton candy, etc.—he’s own his own for those. But since our youngest is still a little young for that, we’re still at the mercy of the gravitational pull the row of games has, especially with the hanging overflow of evil plush stuffed animals beckoning her over.

Face it, there’s just no arguing with a neon green acrylic stuffed bear with saucer eyes, or a blue polka-dotted dog pleading for a new, forever home.

“Come over here, little girl. Try and win me!”

Thankfully, who knew my little one was a sharpshooter with a dart—Pop! Pop! ! Pop! Pop! went those balloons, pretty quickly I might add, and we were one polka-dotted blue stuffed dog richer for only two tries at the darts. (Added bonus:  when we got home we saw that the dog—who’s now called ‘Blueberry’—came complete with a couple of holes along two of the seams. So I get to brush up on my sewing skills too!)

The other thing the carnival is really good for is testing parents’ auditory limits. The carnival folks have figured out the best way to help in that effort—they situate some of the key rides right alongside the noisiest games. For instance, the junction where the Ferris wheel sits next to the fun house is prime real estate for parents with children my daughter’s age. Just down the row is the high “Super Slide,” also pretty popular a spot.

Gotta love the Tufano crew—right in the middle of those two locations is where they situated that game where you whack the board with a mallet to try and get the rubber frogs into the water. Bang! Bang! Bang! pretty much non-stop, no matter where you positioned yourself.

Truthfully, the carnival is a cacophony of sounds that assault your senses:  the clanging bells of the games, the adrenaline-pumped screaming kids on the Avalanche, the whirring generators powering just about everything there.

My favorite noise, however was that grinding clunk on one of the more nauseating-spin-so-fast rides that I used to love as a kid and now can’t look at without grabbing Pepto Bismol and thinking it’s time for Depends. It’s that kind of grinding clunk that makes you wonder, “Exactly how old is this ride and when was the last time it passed inspection??”

I did go on one ride with my daughter, because she wasn’t yet tall enough to ride without an adult. It’s called the “Sizzler,” and it was the one with four cars at the end of three arms that spins you around in two different directions at once, tossing you this way and then that way at high speed, all the while centrifugal force pushes you outward, shmushing all the riders to one end of the car. She and I laughed a ton together during the ride and even more after it ended, especially when I couldn’t walk a straight line for a couple minutes after getting off it. Let’s just say I’m happy I hadn’t eaten first.

All in all, the carnival wasn’t so bad. We had family fun and the added bonus of knowing our evening’s expenses were going to a good cause. And just think—we now have a new, blue member of the family!

Sue Donem September 17, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I groan every time I see those trucks roll in for all the reasons you describe....
Jaimie Cura (Editor) September 17, 2012 at 08:59 PM
I have fond memories of a giant blue lobster won at a fair ... and as I mentioned on Wilton Patch's Facebook page, I can remember the shock I felt when I rode on one of my beloved 'spinny' rides as an adult and got dizzy for the first time! Sigh.

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