Yes, we went to the Tulsa State Fair

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We spent most of Saturday at the Tulsa State Fair.

Despite my disgust at many of the decisions of of the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority (aka the Fair Board), as I mentioned last year, going to the fair is a family tradition that predates my existence. The fair was here long before Randi Miller and Bob Dick and Rick Bjorklund, and it has already survived their involvement. Within a few months, every member of the Fair Board and Expo Square exec that was around when Bell's was expelled, when Murphy Bros. was granted their exclusive contract, when checks from Murphy's Big Splash were left uncashed for over a year, will be gone.

My grandmother entered crafts in the fair back in the '40s and '50s. Starting in 2004, my wife encouraged our kids to enter some of their artwork. My son has won ribbons for paintings and a Lego car. This year the 12-year-old boy and the eight-year-old girl won ribbons in the pumpkin decorating competition. The girl won a blue ribbon in the creative category for a very cute two-pumpkin snowman, and the boy took third place in the "unusual" category for his volcano pumpkin. (I'll try to get pictures posted soon.) My son submitted several of his photographs, and my daughter entered a pastel drawing.

The kids area was relocated to Central Park Hall, and that was our first stop, after we'd walked the half-mile from home. After seeing how they did in the contests, they wanted to build with Kapla planks while the toddler wanted to drive the Li'l' Tikes police car.

Next stop was the Oklahoma Fiddle Championship. My son had decided not to enter, but we still wanted to watch. We were there in time to see the end of the junior competition and to see Marina Pendleton win first prize and the belt buckle.

My wife stayed to watch the open and senior competition; she says she heard some amazing fiddling. The rest of us headed down to the Coke stage to watch the illusionists (Ridgeway and Johnson) and the hypnotist (Steve Bayner) -- both very impressive. In between, we wandered around the Sugar Art Show and marveled at the beautifully decorated cakes. We stopped by the Republican booth -- located as always at the eastern end of the IPE Building QuikTrip Center -- and signed up for McCain/Palin and Inhofe yard signs.

Just north of the Sugar Art Show, we came across the Fruitfull booth. Fruitfull makes these delicious and nutritious frozen treats. We tried the mango and cream, strawberries and cream, and peaches and cream flavors. The treats are made with no refined sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. They use real fruit and fruit juice. Everyone in the family enjoyed them. They're available in Shell convenience stores in the Tulsa area, and they hope to get them into supermarkets soon.

At 7:30 we went to see the Disney on Ice version of High School Musical. I was thankful that we had free passes. Not only were the tickets expensive, but everything else was too -- $12 for a bag of cotton candy, which came with an official High School Musical plastic trilby. We passed on all the food and souvenirs. The kids enjoyed the show. The music and plot made it easy to overlook the skating skill that was on display. Only half of the Pavilion was open for seating, and only half of those seats were filled.

During intermission, we chatted with a fellow behind us who was at the fair for the first time in 15 years. His folks ran the Don's Chicken Fried Steak cafe in the old Exchange Building for 15 years -- a very popular place to eat at the fair, until the Fair Board decided not to renew their lease. His grandparents owned Don's Chili Bowl in Boman Acres Shopping Center and an aunt owned Don's Restaurant on north Sheridan. It was fun to hear some of his memories of the fair.

After the show we bought some cotton candy and watched the Boogie Bodies booth, where you put a green drape over your body, and a computer merges dancing figures with your head, making it look like you're singing and dancing in a music video.

My wife and the kids will go back again later in the week to see more of the animals and exhibits.

It was a bit melancholy to note the disappearance of more of the buildings that were part of my childhood visits to the fair. The IPE Building, the Armory, the Pavilion, and the Skyride are all that's left. Over the last year, the cafeteria and the Exchange/Youth Building were demolished. The cafeteria was the last remnant of when the International Petroleum Exposition was held in a campus of individual buildings where the IPE Building (QuikTrip Center) now stands. The Exchange Building was once home to the annual KTUL Talent Show and the location of the local segments of the Jerry Lewis Telethon. One year (1980?) the Republican 1st District Convention was held in that room. The Youth Building was home to the 4-H and FFA exhibits during the fair. Once upon a time, I believe the Youth Building also included dormitories that housed young future farmers who were at the fairgrounds to show their livestock.

I still miss the KELi satellite.

You will note that I said nothing about rides. We did not ride any. We aren't going to ride any Murphy Bros. rides ever again. That decision is in protest at Bell's Amusement Park's eviction and Murphy-owned Big Splash's apparent lack of concern over safety (failure to make required repairs before opening the park for the season) and apparent lack of concern over paying their bills on time (lease checks went uncashed by Expo Square management for years). My kids are sad not to ride rides, but they are in agreement that we don't want to give any money to Murphy Bros.

We did notice that the Murphy Bros. midway is littered with sandwich boards featuring a superhero cartoon character named "Captain Murph." Captain Murph utters slogans, often rhyming:

Be Alert Accidents Hurt!
Hey Kids have FUN FUN FUN

These signs are just ripe for photoshopping, and Steve Roemerman has some replacement slogans that had me roaring with laughter. He saved the best for last.

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Pamela Author Profile Page said:

From my understanding one of the Murphy rides had problems last year at the fair. In response to this I noticed that several local news broadcasts spent so much time interviewing the inspectors and giving dreadful details about how they inspected the rides, what grade they had to reach in order to be able to operate them, etc. If I had kids I would not let them ride them for that reason alone.

I do not go to the fair. I only went when I dated a fellow long ago that liked going. There is not much I would like to do there other than eat. The food is good, especially funnel cakes and the Fred Flintstone turkey legs, but is not good for my figure:)

Jeff Shaw Author Profile Page said:

I sorely miss that KELI building. oh, and the Zingo.

Pamela Author Profile Page said:

Another Murphy Brothers ride toppled over. A lock came undone.

I've lived here since 1977. I just don't remember all these problems with rides like this. I sure don't remember problems with rides two years in a row. If I had children I would not allow them to be on the rides. They are not inspected well and are unsafe.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 28, 2008 12:30 AM.

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