I’m a sucker for a Fair sales pitch

I’m ashamed to admit this, but I once burst into tears because I couldn’t afford a kitchen blender a salesman told me I needed at the Minnesota State Fair.

Before you start psychoanalyzing my then 8-year-old self, just know that I didn’t plan to go blender-crazy. But it’s hard to resist a slick-talking huckster selling a product that can pulverize ice and liquefy peanuts and turn carrots into carrot juice in five seconds.

I started thinking about my fair experiences because this month is the State Fair of Texas, and we produce the printed version of the Visitors Guide you receive at the Fair, along with a mobile version you can find at bigtex.com.

Anyway, as a kid, attending the Minnesota Fair was the highlight of my year. The fair was a 200-mile drive from our farm, and my sisters and I worked all summer to earn money for our trip. Our main source of spending money was hand-picking sweet corn we had planted behind the house and working for hours and hours waving the ears of corn at highway passersby, doing our own huckster imitation. The price was 50 cents for a baker’s dozen, but if you bought more, we became hucksters and would deal, too.

Our financial haul, split four ways, didn’t amount to more than $20 apiece for a couple weeks’ work, but that was enough to buy Pronto Pups (a cousin to the Texas corny dog) and pop, pay for countless Midway games of chance, and buy a souvenir or two.

I’ve always been a sucker for fair salespeople because they’re good at selling otherwise-obscure products and entertaining crowds for hours. And there’s nothing more dramatic than the blender shows.

Perhaps you know the drill. A blender stands tall on a display table, often beneath a tilted mirror affording a close-up view of the action. A miked-up sales guy talks and talks and talks about the wonder and glory of the blender and how no home should be without one. And what do you know: With the special fair price and the super buy-it-now add-on deals and the dirt-cheap financing, no home need be without a blender, either.

And even as the salesperson talks up the blender, he or she stuffs celery and tomatoes and apples and potatoes and ice and whatever else is handy into the blender, and when it’s all pureed together, out pops a tasty smoothie, made possible only by owning the blender!!!

That year in Minnesota, this miracle overwhelmed my young mind, and knowing that our family finances prevented us from owning the blender no matter how good the deal, I started crying. It was unsightly, that’s for sure; I’ve always been amazed my sisters don’t dredge that tidbit up when we get together.

My grandfather took pity and, in the midst of my meltdown, he bought us the blender. It was the happiest day of my life. We now owned the most deluxe, indispensable kitchen appliance known to man.

The blender guy had done his job. I was happy. And that’s what a fair is all about.


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