There are so many things that feel like iconic pieces of the Michigan summer childhood experience, and carnivals are one of those for me. I’m weirdly ambivalent about them; on one hand, I have a number of happy childhood memories from fairs and carnivals from one summer to the next, and I get genuinely excited about taking our kids to share some of those same experiences. On the other hand, almost as soon as we arrive I’m reminded of a slice of midwestern culture that I’m not exactly keen to align myself with (a snobbiness that has caused me to utter the phrase, “I’m not sure that I want our kids to grow up to be Michigan-people” before). I won’t try to describe exactly what I mean, but if you asked Kristin she’d tell you that it has something to do with the prevalence of calf tattoos. My dad took Jonah to see a monster truck show at the speedway tonight and reported back that the crowd was much of the same, which I could have guessed.
Even so, as soon as I heard about the Battle Creek Air Show coming up I put it on the calendar and told K that we were going, and invited my parents to join us because every one of my carnival and air show memories includes my parents, of course. On this particular night there weren’t actually going to be any flight demonstrations (I had mixed feelings because they were doing a big reenactment of the bombing of Pearl Harbor complete with pyrotechnics and I’m not big on the glorification of war, so I figured it made more sense to attend on an evening without all of that). There were supposed to be hot air balloons, which we love and got to see at a different event last summer, as well as some motorcycle stunts and a lumberjack demonstration (pure Michigan!). As it turned out, the weather was rainy so they didn’t end up flying the balloons, and we missed the motorcycles, but we did see the lumberjacks (Jonah enjoyed the axe throwing).
Mostly though, we hung out at the carnival: eating elephant ears and corn dogs, watching the kids grin through ride after ride, and being reminded how much of our own joy comes from watching their joy, no matter where we are. And some of those rides? I swear I remember riding the exact same ones when I was a kid. They didn’t have the giant slide with the burlap sacks, but it was still a pretty good lineup.
The rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits, and we didn’t get home till roughly 10:00 p.m. Jonah would have ridden those rides all night if we’d let him.