Yesterday we went to the South Carolina state fair! Brad starts looking forward to the fair pretty much as soon as we get home from the fair the previous year. I am not such a huge fan, the crowds and everything get to me, but I go for Brad. Plus some of the stuff is cool.
We chose this particular day to go because it was “exceptional citizens day” which means people with physical and developmental disabilities get in for free. I wish people wouldn’t call people with disabilities “exceptional citizens” or “special needs” or any of these other infantilizing terms. Just call us what we are, people with disabilities! We aren’t offended by being called what we are, so others shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed to say the words either.
The big attraction this year was a circus! I haven’t been to a circus in forever, years before I got a service dog even. So we made sure to arrive in time to get a spot for the circus. When we got there, we realized that seating for people in wheelchairs was not integrated into the seating for everyone else, and was quite limited. Instead people in wheelchairs were expected to sit without their families on a little unstable looking platform next to all the regular seats.
I knew the circus environment would be difficult for me and that I’d need both Brad and Hestia. So we tried to put Brad in the aisle at the very end of the wheelchair platform (so no one would be blocked) so I could sit next to him. But nope, that wasn’t allowed. I explained that I needed to be able to touch Brad during the show. The the man organizing seating said Brad would have to transfer to the tiny plastic regular seats, which was not possible. The man got very upset with me when I said Brad needed to be in his chair, and me sitting next to him, and told me it just wasn’t possible. I was starting to panic by this point, and told Brad we should just leave because I couldn’t handle it.
Luckily someone sitting in the wheelchair section noticed they had a few folding chairs at the back of the platform, so I decided to just grab one of those and sit behind Brad in a space too small for a wheelchair. That worked! But then when the show started, I wasn’t sure if all that fuss in order to stay was worth it!
The show was LOUD! Louder than a movie, closer to as loud as a jet engine! And that was just the music, the screaming on top of that was unbearable! I cried several times during the show because of the loudness, using Hestia to cry into and she licked my face until I was able to collect myself somewhat. During the first act (wheel of death) I nearly bolted!
Most of the acts were OK. The wheel of death guy was extremely talented. My (and Hestia’s!) favorite part of the circus was the dog act! A woman came into the ring riding a motorcycle with a sidecar. In the sidecar there were a bunch of dogs! She had two Dobermans, two Miniature Pinschers, and one Chihuahua. They did a bunch of fun tricks and acts, and she really had them fantastically trained. I noticed that all the dogs when it wasn’t their turn, they were doing paws-ups on the motorcycle. Good way to keep them occupied while you’re not looking, it reminded me of mat training for service dogs!
The only other act of note was the group of four guys riding motorcycles in a circular cage. That was really impressive, but SOOOO loud with the music and four motorcycle engines revving.
I was very glad when the show was over. On our way out of the circus, I was still overstimulated by the motorcycles, so was holding Hestia up to my face, hiding behind her, and breathing into her fur. While I’m in the midst of doing that, some lady calls out from behind me “Oh ma’am!” so I turn to look, thinking maybe I left something behind. She says to her husband (actually a man in a scooter that I had sat right next too…) “See, look, she has a dog!” and then comes right up to Hestia and starts petting her!!!!! I felt like biting her hand! But instead I just said “Don’t pet, she’s working” and turned around and walked off.
Five people said to me as we were exiting the circus that Hestia should have been in the show. Brad says it is just proof that people’s minds all work in the same way.
The rest of the fair was much more relaxed and a lot more fun! We walked around the ride area, enjoying listening to the screams of people on the rides, and watching them go around. We smelled lots of yummy food! We visited the heritage area with old timey crafts and a cherry pie cooking in a cast iron stove over a fire. And Hestia did a good job (after a fairly disastrous beginning because she was so excited) navigating the crowds.
Brad’s favorite part of the fair I think is the arts and crafts section. They had paintings, photographs, handmade clothing, art of all types, baked goods (behind glass!), potted plants, and more all that had been in the statewide competitions. There were I think three buildings full of all of the items that had been entered into the fair!
The last section of the fair we visited was the animal section. I chose to carry Hestia while in this section because she is just so small! I didn’t want a cow to accidentally kick her or smush her or something! And in the smaller animal sections, the floor was full of shavings and poop, which I didn’t want all over her coat.
I really enjoyed seeing the guinea pigs! But my favorite part was the petting zoo. I didn’t pet any of the animals, I wanted to stay a safe distance away with Miss Hestia! But I enjoyed looking at them up close, and seeing them interact with other people.
Despite it being exceptional citizens day, we didn’t see any other service dogs there! We saw one border collie working dog with their cows, but that was it. There were loads of people in wheelchairs there, and one person in a rolling bed! Most people seemed to be really enjoying themselves.
I did get asked 8 times if Hestia was a pug! Most people said it was because of her curly tail. I guess I kinda see the resemblance, but sheesh, pugs and Chin look quite different to me!
Brad got some pictures! I am wearing purple guinea pig leggings with a grey top. Hestia is a small black and white Japanese Chin wearing a purple service dog vest. Brad is a bearded man in a powerchair wearing a multicolored flower shirt, a chicken tie, a blue blazer, a chicken pin, a caterpillar pin, and a blue plaid hat.