It was not the Parkinson’s disease that caused the reaction. Crotchety as it may sound, I just dislike county fairs. How many groomed Holsteins, decked out Morgan work horses and suckling pigs does one need to see? How much gut-churning, barely edible, sugar-coated, deep fried lard must one ingest? How many rip-off hawkers selling magic mops and labour-saving vegetable slicer/dicer contraptions do you need? Who really believes it is a test of a man's skill (females know better) to plunk down a succession of $5 bills to play some rigged, balloon-popping, mole-whacking or bottle-toppling game in order to "win" a too-big-to-carry-around plush toy ego trophy. And who really needs to risk 35 seconds on a life-threatening midway ride with a name like "Corkscrew", employing excessive centrifugal force, bone-jarring lurches, and supersonic speed, all controlled by some elementary school drop-out who thinks it's funny when thrill-seekers jettison their cargo of over-priced cotton candy and grease-impregnated onion rings (as beneficial as that gastronomic purge may be)? No, if I never have to attend another wallet-emptying, crowded, tired and tawdry fair again that would suit me just fine. So what possible mental delusion motivated me to attend the 2011 Pacific National Exhibition, the largest fair in Western Canada? Was it knife-wielding "carnies"? Demonic-possession? Dopamine agonist-induced obsessive/compulsive behaviour? Or was premature dementia at work erasing those carnival-caused scars of my past? No, it was the totally illogical, impulsive and illusory idea of a grandpa who had his grandson to himself for the day. Who would be better to introduce the lad to the garish and gawdy underbelly of entertainment?If deep down I was hoping to cure 2 1/2 year old PJ of any desire to ever go to another fair, I was hopelessly naïve. He loved it! Starting with the livestock barns he was soon spinning, sprinting, dodging and weaving past stalls of prize heifers, coiffed sheep and sleek stallions. Next were the domesticated fowl exhibits. With the attention span of a squirrel with amnesia seeking out a misplaced stash of seeds, PJ squeezed shamelessly to the front of every crowd to catch a glimpse of some blue ribbon ducks, dozing pigeons or exotic hens. In a matter of less than 30 minutes our frenetic farm animal tour had exhausted me. Breaking out of the barns into the late afternoon sunshine we joined the human river in pursuit of alleged amusement. I had no appetite for dashing through the next building with its display of 4H handicrafts. It became obvious that neither did my whirling Dervish of a grandson. His eyes, staring almost straight up, were locked on the top of the Ferris Wheel. "That one, Grandpa, let's go on that one." Pulling my hand with the power of a small tractor he strained through the crowd with determination. The concept of lining up to buy tickets for anything was a real test of his patience, but especially when the actual process inexplicably required waiting in three line-ups: one to pay for PJ's ride pass voucher, one to get his hand stamped as evidence of payment and one to actually get on any ride. At each end of each queue he voiced an indignant complaint as if he and his entourage of one should immediately be ushered to the front like recognizable royalty. After all, we were wasting precious time shuffling along when we could be racing from ride to ride. Of course there was a minimum height requirement that, thankfully, restricted access to most of the tummy-testing rides. I say "most" because the first ride for which we were eligible was the "Scrambler" where three benches whirled horizontally counter-clockwise while the whole machine spun clockwise on its axle. Vaguely recalling the ride as being in the relatively tame category I succumbed to PJ's plaintiff refrain, "This one, Grandpa!"It was different than I remember. Faster and with a force that felt like it would hurl u read more..