Special thanks to Maria for sharing the story of their now annual trip to the carnival. 🙂

My Favorite Night at the Carnival Carnivals are my favorite events in the fall. Every year my family and I venture out to the Halloween Carnival hosted by our local church. We park down the street and begin our journey towards the lively music. With each step, I feel my inner child cheering me on.

First of all let me say, you just can’t beat carnival food. My nose alerts my stomach that the glorious feast is getting closer. As we enter the church parking lot, hamburgers, hotdogs, popcorn, and snow cones swirl before me. As my stomach begins to growl and my mouth begins to water, I quickly spot my first course … nachos!! I can’t wait to taste those crispy chips smothered in ooey, gooey cheese. And of course who can forget the jalapenos. As we continue down the wonderful maze of booths I am already thinking about what I am going to sample next. Ahhh … funnel cake. What carnival would be complete without this sweet treat? The piping hot cake is smothered with powdered sugar, which I lick off my fingers with each bite.

By this point, my son is growing impatient. The whirl of all the rides seems to be calling his name. Now comes the big decision. Will he ride the Tea Cups or the Swings first? We run into a neighbor who convinces him that the Tilt-A-Whirl is the only way to go. He grabs some tickets and darts off with his friend. When he returns a few minutes later his face is flush with excitement. After trying out the remaining rides, we begin to venture into the parish hall to check out the different games. Of course we have to make another stop at the ticket booth before we can go in as our first sheet of tickets are long gone.

As we enter the building it seems to be a wonderfully chaotic scene. Children are lining up for all the different games. We stop at the first booth for the soda bottle toss. Three liter soda bottles are placed in rows in front of us. The object of this game is to toss a small plastic loop around the neck of the bottle. The coveted prize is walking away with a soda of your choice. My son scores a victory on the sixth attempt. I have to laugh because I realize that our three liter of soda just cost us $3. But I realize that it is the thrill of victory that we are actually buying.

Upon conquering the soda bottles, we move down to the fishing pond. The pond reminds me of a small fitting room. Four canvas walls with the “fish” in the center. Each fisherman is given a pole with a string and clothes pin attached. The child baits the line with either a pink paper worm or a blue paper worm and then casts their line into the pond. After a few anxious moments the fish bites and my son reels up his catch. It is a plastic alien attached to a plastic parachute. I hear him ask, “Can I do that again?” My husband doles out another ticket and I decide this is the perfect opportunity to sneak back out to the food booths. Of course I am not hungry, but then again carnival food is a once a year treat for us. This time I decide that I have to try the sausage on a stick. Besides I can share this with my husband and feel a little less guilty!

When I return to the hall, I see that my son has found his way to the cake walk. As he stands on number 10 waiting for the music to start, I can tell he is carefully studying the cakes on the table. Will he take the plate of cupcakes or maybe the bright yellow lemon cake? All of a sudden he turns to me and announces that when he wins he will be taking the homemade cake with chocolate frosting. Although I try to tell him that he might not win, it is too late. The music has started and he is stepping from square to square. When the music stops he has landed on number 19. What a lucky number, his birthday is February 19th, so maybe luck is on his side. The volunteer spins the wheel. Click, click, click … the numbers whirl by. The marker stops on number 12. His faces drops for a second and then everyone realizes square 12 is empty. So again the wheel is spun. As it begins to slow, I see number 19 approaching. Maybe … maybe … yes!!! He immediate runs over and claims the luscious chocolate cake.

The evening has flown by and we begin to slowly walk towards the car. I am so full it feels like my stomach is about to pop. But my son insists that we have to try our prize cake when we get home. We begin to drive towards the house and the lights of the carnival slowly fade behind us. I can’t wait to come back next year!

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