Midway Mayhem At The State Fair

I admit it, I’m not a big fan of the State Fair.  I haven’t attended since I was shooting film more years ago than I care to remember.  There are too many people, too much noise, (crazy, since I love rock concerts) bad food, carnival games you rarely win, and too much money spent. This year I was invited to take part in a group photo shoot with six photographers specializing in varied genres to compile a collection of images depicting the annual event.  I mustered up my motivation, packed my gear and headed off on a sunny late Friday afternoon to navigate the mayhem that is the midway.  As Sting put it: “Only the rush hour hell to face, Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes” I fought my way through traffic, drove around a dusty parking lot for nearly an hour (why am I here again?) and squeezed my car into a space I almost came to fisticuffs over.  Finally, following the crowds, schlepping my tripod that I rarely shoot with along with my other gear, I began my walk to the fairgrounds. Thankfully the line to buy tickets was sparse and I made my way through the gate. So far so good. This idyllic, peaceful view is deceptive…

Colored lights, blue skies and beautiful reflections from the outside looking in.

Who doesn’t love being slung upside down at high speeds, against gravity, scared witless?

Fair goers enjoy the ride

Fair goers enjoy the rides

Nice colored lights against a sunset sky.

The view disguises

Sunset on The Midway

You can’t have a fair without the usual edible fare…

Cotton candy, Popcorn, Candy Apples

Food Worker

Fair Fare

Elephant Ears

Workers On The Other Side

And of course, a merry-go-round, going round.

Merry-Go-Lights in motion

more lights…

Rock Star In Motion. Rides and more rides

And more lights.

Midway Night Lights

The previous night, tragedy struck when this ride aptly called the Vortex started up again before passengers disembarked. Several were injured after being thrown off to the ground below. The investigation is ongoing as I write this.

Accident Scene. There was a tragic accident on this ride the night before, injuring several fair goers.

Can’t have a fair without a Haunted House. By the time I took this shot, I was lost in a maze on the Midway.  I didn’t need to go inside the Haunted House!

What's a fair without a haunted house?

Okay, don’t laugh, I walked in endless circles trying to find my way off the Midway. I’d head towards the place I thought I had entered only to be blocked in by barricades repeatedly.  I was having visions of a Twilight Zone like horror story repeating the same circle over and over and over, never escaping. Carnies hawking their games, elbow to elbow crowds, dizzying  rides and screaming riders, I was trapped in Midway Hell.  I used my “phone a friend” to call my sister. She is more familiar with the lay of land at the fairgrounds and I needed a calm voice of reason to help me get my bearings… “if I remember correctly, I think you need to head towards the Village of Yesteryear” she said.  Another U-turn, circle around the entire Midway again and navigate around the Grandstand track was all I had to do.  Great. Five long hours after my arrival, exhausted, I eventually made it to the exit. Relieved to be on my way out, I took one last shot and a look back. Finally, the view from the outside again.

IMG_5390 copy

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed photographing the sights and colors of the fair.  I just don’t need to ever go again. I wish I’d spent more time shooting the animal exhibits, but frankly, people gawking at the prize livestock trapped in pens depressed instead of inspired me.  I missed the horse shows, which I think I would have enjoyed.

All in all our group achieved our goal with a resulting diverse collection of perspectives of the fair, and we are in planning stages for an exhibit of our efforts. I’m looking forward to our next group project…

tell me what you like/don’t like about the fair!

What I’m Listening to

Pink Floyd – “Brain Damage”

Nirvana – “Lithium”

Ozzy Osbourne – “Crazy Train”

The Rolling Stones -“19th Nervous Breakdown”


5 thoughts on “Midway Mayhem At The State Fair

  1. Pingback: A Look Back | imagine-foto

  2. Lovely work! My favorites are the first and last ones…..and the black & white one in the middle, with the fantastic spread of stuff to eat!! Great work!

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