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Day 122 - Barton County Fair, Day 2

We woke to the recorded sounds of the frog races—the trumpet fanfare, the gunshot to start the race, the hop by hop call, finally a winner was crowned with a celebratory fanfare, only to repeat the entire race again 15 minutes later, all day, without end.

Hans and I took an early walk to survey the grounds in hopes of finding running water and something more substantial to eat than fried dough and candied apples. The only running water we could find were in the bathrooms under the sound stage, and they smelled like stale beer and urine. We decided to brush our teeth with no water and continue on the quest to find breakfast.

We saw a pole sign with an arrow pointing to a grill on the far end of the field near the entrance, so set off in search of an egg or a pancake. Along the way we noticed a large trailer with a clown image on the side, his eerie eyes refusing to blink until we had to look away. His face was painted bright white with a brilliant red nose and bright orange hair. He wore striped balloon pants and wide-toed clown shoes with flat bottoms, and he held up his white gloved hand as if waving to welcome us in. His name was emblazoned on the side of the trailer, something like Pedaling Pete and his Tiny Trike, or something equally creepy.

We walked around the corner of the trailer and saw an old man setting up a small metal fence outside the door of the trailer. His hair was messy and his clothes rumpled, and he was moving slowly as if morning had come a few hours too soon. He arranged a couple of tricycles in the metal pen he had built, then added a metal lawn chair under the awning to keep it out of the sun. As we passed the trailer, we heard his theme song churn up over the loudspeaker. If I had to look up pedal-pushing pedophile clown in the dictionary, this was the image I would expect to see. Hans and I picked up our pace, hoping to deter any small children who might come by from being ensnarled in this Stephen King-like lair.

Breakfast was a bit of a relief…eggs and toast were palatable and the coffee strong. When we arrived back at the campsite, the others were up and preparing for our morning set. We all wished we had something other than white pants and white sneakers for the literal shit-show we were about to play three times that day, but we had no other options. The only hope of staying clean was to stand back a little further on the stage to avoid any spackling by the cleaning team.

Everyone was hungry after we finished the morning set, so we decided to go off-grounds to get some lunch and take a break from fair life. We found a small pizza place in downtown and, while we waited for lunch to arrive, each one of us took turns in the bathroom washing up. If I could have fit my whole body into the sink, I would have. I pumped the soap dispenser dry and did my best to take sponge bath with flimsy brown paper towels from the roll next to the sink. I stuck my head under the faucet to wet my hair then scrub my face. I was refreshed and relaxed by the time I got back to our table. After lunch we picked up a few supplies and headed back for the final 2 sets.

After we wrapped up shows for the night, we set up lawn chairs around the camper to enjoy some liquid refreshments. Everyone was a bit cranky and tired, but after a few drinks we started to see the humor in our situation. The blank stares from the crowd when we played, the 2D tent, the incessant drone of the frog races all day long, the old camper that might not even make it out of the fairgrounds tomorrow, and the fact that Jay was missing it all. Steve, our drummer, got up and headed for the porta-potty while we continued to loosen up.

About 10 minutes later, Steve returned and was fuming. We could barely calm him down to speak, but we finally managed to learn that while he was in the porta-potty, a group of townies came by and started to shake the unit. One of them blocked the door so Steve could not escape. The stench in the potty after two solid days of use was nearly overwhelming, and the idea that Steve might end up wearing the contents of it sent him into a panic. He said he was screaming at the top of his lungs while they started to tip it. Suddenly the shaking stopped and Steve flew open the door but he couldn’t see his assailants in the dark. By the time he got back to the camper, Steve was ready to pack up and leave. If he had his own car, I think he would have, but we managed to calm him down after a while and sent him off to bed in the camper. He locked the door firmly, and we headed to the tent relieved to know we had just two short concerts left tomorrow before we could head out of town.

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