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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast



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The best time I ever had at State Fair resulted in my being grounded for the rest of the summer. It was worth it.

I grew up not too far from State Fair Park, so I went plenty of times as a kid. I never cared for it all that much, in all honesty. I would discover later, the reason I didn't totally love State Fair was because we were doing it wrong.

My mom was eternally freaked by fair rides and frightened by the men who operate them. For that reason we rarely, if ever, visited the midway. When we did, we were allowed like one ride, and it had to be something that didn't leave the ground. Mom didn't think much of any ride that wasn't bolted down.

We didn't play any games because you're not going to win. We wouldn't want the prizes anyway, we were told.

Now the food... of course the primary reason many people go to the Fair at all. Not the Vitranos. It's expensive to buy food at the Fair. It's actually inexpensive compared to other summer festivals... but compared to eating a big breakfast before you go, and trying to get home for a late lunch... well in that case it is more expensive. So we got like one or two things to eat, and that was that.

So that leaves us... what at the fair? No rides, no games, no food... oh the animals. Truth be told, none of us were real excited about those, so come to think of it... I'm not sure why we went the State Fair when I was a kid.

I do recall my mom winning some ribbons for her artwork. She's an incredible cross-stitcher and quilter. So I guess that was cool... although not really for a kid.

Summer before 7th grade this kid Andy I was hanging out with invites me to go mini-golfing on a weekday night. He was a new friend I'd made... so my parents didn't know him and didn't know his mom and dad. In a departure from their usually hard stance on this, they did allow me to go with him... his dad driving... to play at Storms. You remember, that's the place on Bluemound Rd. across from Brookfield Square that used to have mini-golf right there.

So we go mini-golfing... then hit balls on the driving range... then I've got to call home from the pay phone across the street 'cause dude's dad decides he wants to take us to State Fair! What? This was unbelievable! Some-how, my parents said sure and told me to tell Andy's dad thank you... and that I had to be home by 10:00.

The dream continues at the Fair. We're playing games. Andy wins some big toy. We go on rides. I eat not one... but two corn dogs! Now again, I'm used to getting virtually nothing to eat... maybe a corn and a soda... now I'm doubling up on stuff! In the back of my mind, I'm doing the math, and I'm beginning to realize I'm going to be late. I don't care.

We get back to the car and it's 11:53PM. I'm out with some kid my parents don't know. I don't think they even knew dude's last name. It's probably better, or they'd be looking up his parents in the phone book. I'm sure they were scared. I got home well after midnight, and my stomach hurt... bad.

Grounded for the rest of the summer. I've never been so excited to go back to school, but wow did I have a good time at the Fair.

I know my parents were really trying to live within their means. We weren't poor or anything, but we didn't have a lot of cash to throw around either. My dad worked as a teacher and coach at Wauwatosa East High. My mom stayed home with my brother, my sister, and me. I get it. They were also doing their best to raise healthy, responsible kids and they wanted us to go to the Fair. We were healthy and responsible, for the most part, although I was a bit on the chubby side.

Unfortunately, they instilled in me the exact opposite values... at least when the Fair is on. Now when I to it's exercise in gluttony. If I want two of something... I'm getting it. Cream Puff for sure. Cheese curds from the "Hot Wisconsin Cheese" booth. Funnel cake. Pork Chop Sandwich. Something smoked or baked from the Wisconsin Products Pavilion. Wine tasting shack, and at least one ear of corn.

Here's to good times at the State Fair! On Wisconsin!




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