Close Call at the CA State Fair

Momservation: Never trust a short line on a busy day at the fair.

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24th year of photo booth family pic at CA State Fair (pre close call)

24th year of photo booth family pic at CA State Fair (pre close call)

I can’t believe I was nearly done in by one of my favorite places in the whole wide world:

The California State Fair.

Thank goodness I’ve lived to tell about it.

So there we were. Hubby and I on a warm, breezy California summer night, the smell of fried food, livestock, and hot tub chlorine swirling around us; screams mixed with laughter, revving motorcycles flying through the air, and a bad Led Zeppelin tribute band harmonizing to sing our song of summer. Holding hands like we had done for the previous 24 years, we strolled by the BBQ next to the livestock building, past giant food billboards, game and gadget hawkers, and the blinking lights of the midway that makes it feel like home.

After taking our annual photo booth family picture, we set our teenagers free with money and their friends to go make their own summer memories. Dropping down into the bustling concrete valley of food vendors it was time to make that important, time-honored decision:

What to eat?

From colossal corndogs to fried cookie dough—it was a fantastic problem to have. Previous experience had taught us that Chinese food is better served in Chinese restaurants, seafood best had near the sea, and that you can’t go wrong with BBQ or anything fried on a stick.

Always wanting to try something that could only be found at local fairgrounds I found myself being pulled toward life-size pictures of chocolate covered bacon, turkey legs, and fried Oreos.

Then my eye caught a new offering: Lobster fries! Get it single serving or in a bucket (theme of this year’s fair: everything in a bucket).

The line wasn’t too bad. The sauce covered treat being carried away from the booth with more fries than fish was predictable, but tasty looking. However, Hubby and I kept walking citing our seafood at the fair rule.

mac n cheese burger

Proceed with caution

Across the way a burger billboard caught my eye. “Let’s split the mac n cheese stuffed bacon burger!” I said, decision easily settled.

While Hubby stepped up to order at the booth with no line I shot over to the giant lemon for the traditional Phil’s Fresh Squeezed Lemonade. Finding a seat under the misters, Hubby and I eagerly took a bite of the promising fair food.

Our eyes meeting over the tops of our split bun I had one thing to say:

“Are we getting sick tonight?”

Hubby spit out his bite, threw down his burger and said, “I’m done.”

Slowly lowering my funky tasting burger in disappointment, hoping my taste buds had been mistaken, I asked Hubby, “It tastes like something’s rotten doesn’t it?”

“For sure.”

I pulled the burger apart sniffing each section. When I got the mac n cheese stuffing my nose recoiled in recognition of clearly spoiled food.

“Think the bacon’s okay?” I asked hoping to salvage our nearly $12 burger.

“I wouldn’t chance it,” said Hubby. Instead we went in search of the ol’ stand-by: BBQ pulled-pork sandwich served disturbingly close to the petting zoo.

I’m happy to report that neither of us suffered any ill effects from the close call food poisoning, though I did make sure we were in close proximity to the bathrooms for the rest of the evening just in case.

When I later told the story to the kids one asked, “Did you get your money back?”

Funny, we never thought of it. We tallied the burger in the Loss column like we would with money spent on game booths and dumb purchases from charming As Seen on TV hawkers.

“Did you tell them it was rotten so no one else would get sick?” asked another.



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