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Goats and Sticky Fingers

Each September, Knoxville hosts the Tennessee Valley Fair. I talked David into going this past Saturday night. The first part of the night involved a lot of driving around for parking and a lot of walking to reach the carnival midway. We bought enough tickets to get us on three rides, and then scouted to find ones sufficiently exciting for me yet calm enough for David’s stomach.

First we chose Cliff Hanger, a ride totally new to me that simulates the experience of flying. It’s basically like Swings, only instead of sitting on a swing, you lie belly down on a platform. I had to take my floppy shoes off. After flying, we walked around amongst giant Sponge Bobs, American and confederate flags, and crowds of people holding funnel cakes. We stopped by the Native American exhibit and saw some pelts and quivers. Then we made our way back to the midway for the giant Ferris Wheel.

I bought some cotton candy on the way. It came in a bag pre-made, blue and pink stacks in alternating clouds. I wanted the man to swirl me some fresh on a wand, but I was too chicken to request special service. In line for the Wheel, I stuffed myself full and stickied up my fingers. We passed the remains of a large turkey leg. The Wheel went much higher than I realized, and since we were both sitting on the same side of the bucket (excuse me, gondola), we tipped backwards a bit. David laughed at me because I was scared and he wasn’t.

Next, we rode Pharaoh’s Fury. (I will always call it The Pirate Ship.) In line, the twelve year olds in front of us were hanging on each other and looking around like they thought they would get in trouble. The girl was taller than the boy. We sat two rows back from the middle, and I stashed my cotton candy bag tight between our legs. This ride was my favorite of the night. I’ve always loved it. Perhaps it’s not just the fright of being swung up to vertical slant and not just the dip in the stomach upon starting down that makes it so fun. I think getting to see the yelling faces and the raised arms of the people across the ship enhances the thrill.

After our tickets ran out, we walked over to the agricultural section, hoping some animals would still be awake. There, on the other side of the mega tractors, we found a heaven full of goats. A whole pavilion, chewing, gnawing, and butting, open for our taking. We walked by every pen and petted all the goats who would let us. Most of them tried to nibble our hands, but I found one who stood and let me pet and scratch to my heart’s content, just like our cat. It was the kind of goat with tiny, tucked ears—a Lamancha goat. I’ve loved goats for a long time, but seeing so many together made me realize how beautiful they are. Some were stark white, while others had dark tufts on their ears and ridges down their backs. Some were thin and sleek, almost like greyhounds. I wish we’d had our camera. It couldn’t have gotten the dazzling carnival lights, but it could have gotten the goats.