Spring Carnival

I don’t know why I love county fairs so much, but I always have. Perhaps it’s the reawakening of 50s and 60s Americana. Maybe it’s the colorful neon lights brightening an otherwise monotonous, uneventful night. Or could it really be the smell of cotton candy and caramel apples staring through that scratchy glass?

But despite my inexplicable love of county fairs, the last one I went to was the San Mateo County Fair in 2011, almost 11 years ago. So I was thoroughly excited when I realized they were setting one up (almost literally) right outside our backyard!

The Spring Carnival took place at the Cow Palace over four days in April. This was admittedly not a full county fair with agricultural exhibits and shows, but it had plenty of rides, fair food, and neon (now LED) lights to keep my camera busy.

Having all my camera gear with me, I didn’t get to do any rides, but I imagine I would have had a blast on the Zipper. As soon as I saw it, I knew I’d found the source of all that screaming we’d heard through the open windows at our house over the past few nights. Does it take a wicked mind to invent a ride like this?

There was plenty of carnival games and fair food. I would’ve loved some cotton candy to find out if it tastes and feels like childhood, but I didn’t get any, more because of a fear of embarrassment than an abundance of self-restraint.

I spent about an hour taking photos and wandering around to survey the games and rides. I didn’t end up doing any rides or delighting in any carnival food, but I had a wonderful time nonetheless. Coming out of a global pandemic, it was amazing to see thousands and thousands of people out and about enjoying a warm spring night, especially through a camera.