Cliff had us set up on the campground by 10:30 Thursday, and once he left, we wasted no time in getting to the tunnel that leads to the midway. Kids under twelve don't have to pay admission, and because opening day is bargain day, it was only $1 for me, as opposed to the usual senior rate of $6.
We all had a corn dog as soon as we found a stand selling them for the opening day price of $1. Different food stands have different bargains, so you get your dollar corn dog at one, and a dollar Coke at another. The girls started out paying for their own, but I realized that, at $3 a stop, I could afford the bargain stuff. Not that I did them any big favor, because their money seemed to be burning a hole in their pockets. I tried to tell them to spend their money wisely, but I may as well have been talking to the wall; finally, I just said, "It's your money. If you want to buy a $3 lemonade, go ahead."
The highlight of Thursday was seeing the Chicago HoneyBear Dancers. They're lovely ladies, and terrific dancers. They take time to be friendly with all the kids in the audience, bringing them on stage to dance with them and then talking to them individually, after the show. They gave three shows each day, and every one is different. We saw their morning gig, and vowed to see a different one during our three days at the fair.
Seeing the Tigers of India show made me want to go pet a tiger, but then I remember the guy in Vegas whose pet mauled him, and I changed my mind. It really is amazing how docile these animals are. The trainers seem to genuinely love their animals.
On each of our three days at the fair, we found some reason to stop by the Southern Baptist tent. They're in the same location every year, and give out free cups of cold water and lemonade. They have ballons for the kids, so the girls had a balloon to carry around while they ate their cheap food. Our last stop there, a clown was making balloon hats, animals, flowers, and so forth. Each girl gota silly balloon hat, which of course bumped anyone in the crowd who came near.
Because it was hot and we needed to sit down by 3 o'clock, we went to the Budweiser tent to watch Jed Hughes perform (never heard of him before; he's from Australia and has sort of a mellow rock-type style. Honestly, I don't see how any of these performers can do such a great job of singing, dancing, or whatever they do, when the temperatures are in the mid- to upper-nineties.
We didn't watch the opening-day parade this year. It's mostly antique cars with local politicians waving from the windows, and several old tractors... with a few marching bands and floats thrown in for good measure. For an hour. With us standing in one spot in the heat. We could see it passing by outside the Budweiser tent, and when it ended, we left for the opening-day ceremony.
The lieutenant-governor was there to make a speech, in place of our new governor. Only one Stealth Bomber flew overhead, instead of three, like last year. But the girls were elated when they saw the Honeybear dancers were going to do a number... and ecstatic when the dancers acknowledged them, across the crowd. We all got our free Hostess fruit pie and dragged our tired bodies back to the camper for a good night's rest. Monica had eaten four corn dogs that day, and Natalie and I each had three.