In the second of a four-part series, Leau Phillips writes about her observations on day two at the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque:
Well boys and girls, today was a much shorter day, only 11 hours, but a much hotter day so I guess that evens it out. And we sold three things, so we doubled our sales!! Oh what I would have given for just a small amount of the cloud cover we had yesterday.
Also, mystery solved from yesterday i.e. big families, many teenagers...it was dollar day! So of course if you have ten children, you go when you can pay $1 for each of them as opposed to $7 (ridiculous, eh?) for each of them.
Now on to today's big adventure. It wasn't the crowds we had yesterday, in fact it was downright slow, no small (or large) child rode a pony for almost two hours, but I still managed to have a good time people-watching.
Most of my observations today were about what folks were wearing since I could clearly see each and every person that came by. Now, you know that I love me some camouflage but when did it become the pattern du jour? I kept track of each and every new color combo I saw just to share with you. By far the most surprising was the red, white and blue...just where could you wear that to blend in? Washington?
And then there was the darling little girl who had on a fluffy skirt and jacket in a camo print of purple, lavender, cream and tan. Accessories included matching purple cowboy boots...and she could take cover in what hostile territory? The Gap? Barney's neck of the woods? She was with a friend who had on a camo hat (in the standard colors, could blend in jungle terrain, was even made like the hats that soldiers wear), but to girl-ify it, she had carefully placed one of those halos made out of glittery tinsel, flowers and streamers. I guess that wins Best Juxtaposition of the Day.
Another favorite was the small girl dressed for all intents and purposes as a cowboy down to the boots and then topped off the outfit with a gold lame belly dancer belt with coins hanging off of it. Or the small child wearing a "flower girl" dress in red and black lace with small girl high heels. Sweet!! Or should I say sweat?
Adults were not much better: one woman had on a tank top and shorts and then those leggings that stop at your ankle and flip flops! It was 86 degrees at that point. And you know those "Gone but not Forgotten" tee shirts we seem to be so fond of in New Mexico? Lots of those today, including one that didn't have the person's name, but a huge Our Lady of Guadalupe on the back and a truck on the front. Is the truck not forgotten? Or is the virgin gone? Confused me.
Then there was the very burly man with his "wife beater" tee shirt ( skinny, white, ribbed, with small almost spaghetti straps - Archie Bunker or Ralph Cramden?) who is in the process of getting some sort of massive tatoo on each shoulder and had no hair on his head EXCEPT for a little 4" long, maybe 1" wide strip right in the middle of his head, where the hair was long enough to hang down his back. I didn't take his picture..I was scared!
But my favorite accessories of the day were magnificent crowns made by preschoolers out of construction paper and adorned with cut outs of farm animals they had colored themselves. Priceless. They were all so proud.
To understand this next set of accessories, you should first know that it was law enforcement day at the fair. Most local, state and some federal officers had all their "toys" lining main street of the fair grounds. Some very clever children (of all ages) figured out the CAUTION: CRIME SCENE tape would make great belts. So here they came, the funniest/best being a kid who had on those huge baggy shorts that are soooo popular (You know the "you know you are from NM if your son's back pockets are behind his knees" kind). So picture it: black tee shirt that doesn't come to the top of the shorts, white boxers hanging out and a CAUTION tape trying its best to hold up the shorts that have become "longs" because they are six to seven sizes too big! I wanted to follow him around to see how long he could wear that plastic tape around that very sensitive area it was resting on without getting a heat rash that might be hard to explain.
In that same vein, a very daring young girl had placed the DANGER!! BIOHAZARD!! orange tape across her chest like a beauty queen. Miss BioHazard 2007? No second term for her!
Because it was law enforcement day, we didn't see even one state policeman and the security people barely gave us a glance. However about 2:30, the Gang Suppression Unit from APD came over and hung out at the pony rides, because that is where the gangs are known to congregate, 'ya know? They must have heard about the gobs of blobs of preschoolers that invaded in the morning - each child dressed in the same color with signs on their shirts. Acoma Head Start isn't exactly a major threat, but we were well protected from them in the afternoon.
The law enforcement day ended with the helicopter taking off above the pony rides, like they didn't know that would kick up tons of dust and other not so nice things! But they looked cool, right? Law enforcement-like even.
I got to look around more today, thanks to having a partner help out with the booth. So I went wild and went to the Agricultural building, Natural Sciences, the Exhibit Hall and the Hispanic Cultural building. That's where our friend Louise's quilts were exhibited, because she won both the first and third prize. Her quilts are fabulous! And they had a whole category for Day of the Dead art. It was really amazing. The guard - yes they had security - followed me around so I didn't take any pictures inside, but trust me, it was spectacular.
Best quote in the Agricultural Building at the miniature train exhibit:
Beautiful small girl: It is NOT a railroad, it is a choo, choo.
Charming small boy: Mom isn't this a railroad? (Yes, it's a railroad)
Beautiful small girl: Mom, (different mom, of course) Can a choo choo be a railroad too?
Best quote at the dog clothes booth (today they brought in their Christmas line!): "I try to dress my
dogs up but they don't like it!" Uh, duh (my editorial comment)!
Oddest purchase at the dog clothes booth: The woman who bought a dog collar for her daughter - wait for it -Princess Kiara. Even the vendor laughed at that.
Biggest surprise of the day: A woman who visited the dog clothes vendor several times then, left the fair and came back at closing (paying yet another $7/person and again for parking) to bring her dog and LET HIM TRY ON THE CLOTHES!! Yes folks, that surprised even me! BTW, he hated everything and wouldn't even keep the smoking jacket or uggs (is that how you spell those ugly boots with too much fur?) on for a second! How ungrateful...
Oddest tattoo of the day: Nursing mother with yet nother newborn attached with "Afraid of the dark" just above her cleavage. What does that mean? Am I missing something here?
In the Natural Sciences building, I got a skull on a stick (a fan warning folks about abandoned mines). I saw a sad little black-throated humming bird in a small netted space. More mad than sad. As a red head, I get dive-bombed by hummers all the time and this one seemed determined to have a drink on me. I felt really bad for him, but still didn't stand too close or take any pictures, just in case.
Oddest statement of the day: "Don't break anything, I don't want to have to buy that shit."
Because I went through the Exhibit Hall, I can tell you what I don't want and won't buy at the fair: A giant pimp hat in hot pink (or turquoise or lime green) leopard print with boa trim. Or a Russian nesting dog of the Chicago Bulls. Or an enameled Jesus on dog tags or really anything enameled on dog tags. Or do-rags with butterflies and puppies on them (not thatI would buy a do-rag, but if I did, it would have a Harley or skulls or something tough on it). Or a giant Sponge Bob Square Pants belt buckle. Or any jewelry labeled "genuine or authentic" that was only a dollar. Or wooden roses of any color that were licorice-scented.
So I am off for tonight and will be back in the trenches tomorrow and may get to see the State Fair Queen (in full regalia) driving a golf cart again or really find out for sure if state fair food smells better than it tastes -it sure did today!
Full story about very angry hot glass lady tomorrow!! Read Part One of Leau's series here.
Leau Phillips is a mixed media artist and photographer. In her spare time, she helps small children identify mystery popsicles (story on Friday).