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Fear The Tilt-a-whirl!

Chris and I took the kids to the Montgomery County Ag Fair this weekend. Both days. All day. In scorching heat. Life lesson from the outing: No matter how much your children plead, do not follow up a heavy lunch of fair food with multiple trips on rides with names like Zero Gravity. Trust me. 

That said, I'm a fool for fairs. As a wee one living in Dothan, Alabama, my parents used to take me to the town's annual Peanut Festival--always a good time, despite my having once gotten so lost inside one of those mirror mazes that management had to send someone in to retrieve me. Much later, during my senior year of college, my first newspaper assignment was a piece on the Tennessee State Fair for one of the Nashville dailies (I think it was the now-defunct Banner). The experience falls into the category of minor disaster: I was supposed to hang out with the fair's director and write about that year's theme of family fun. Simple enough. Unfortunately, after I filed my copy, there was a shooting out at the fairgrounds (non-lethal, as I recall). One of the paper's regulars was dispatched to cover the incident, and what wound up running the next day was this unbeat piece about the fun-and-happy kid-friendly times to be had at the fair, with a few graphs tacked onto the end about how those fun-and-happy times took a hit on opening night when gunfire broke out. Not exactly award-winning material.

The near-death of my journalistic aspirations notwithstanding, what I most recall most vividly about that fair were the caramel apples. I realize there are people out there who fancy funnel cakes or elephant ears or cotton candy, or even, god help you, those 20-pound slabs of fudge. But for me, caramel apples are the unrivaled king of fair treats. No newfangled variation (blue candy apples!) or exotic import (Hawaiian ice?!) has ever tempted me to stray. Until this weekend.

Two words: Fried Oreos. The signs for them were everywhere, beckoning with the promise of sweet, crunchy, greasy, delicious goodness. I resisted the call--but only because I was still so sick from that infernal backward-spinning race-car ride that I was having trouble holding down water. But the fair runs all week. It's just a few miles up the road. And this is exactly the sort of treat  some crusading legislator is going to succeed in outlawing within the next five years. I feel compelled to act now before this particularly scrumptious opportunity to destroy my circulatory system is lost.

--Michelle Cottle