This weekend is the Bear Paw festival in Eagle River.  I guess it’s like our little equivalent of a county fair.  There is a parade, contests (not sure what all kind, but I am aware that they have a swing dancing contest and Odoreaters sponsors a stinky shoe contest), there are booths for local vendors and local candidates, and rides.  There are bands, food, and other stuff I’m sure.

Yesterday I got a call from Julie.  I nearly shouted with joy when she said she wasn’t feeling like going to the gym to work out.  I didn’t feel well Thursday and really wasn’t sure I’d be up for physical toning on Friday.  Instead, she was thinking about going to the Bear Paw festival.  I was happy to go with her.  First we walked through all the booths.  They didn’t have quite the art presence that we saw last year at the state fair.  It was mostly jewelry and cloths, and one tent full of cheap toys made in China. Plus realtors, credit unions and politicians.  At the festival JBER brought a bunch of bounce thingamajigs.  They weren’t houses, one was a boxing ring, another a “training course” (I thought it looked like something inspired by American Gladiator, the boys were thinking American Ninja Warrior, generation gap there), a climbing wall, and football and basketball throw thingys.  The coolest thing about the bouncy thingamajigs was that they were free.  Yay for something at a fair that I didn’t have to pay for.  The kids could have played on the “training course” all day long.  I lost count how many times they went through it.  I let the boys do the climbing wall once, but only once.  Clara was too small to do it, and didn’t understand why she couldn’t go too.  Plus, it was the one bounce thingamajig that really had a line.  Finally, we went over to the carnival rides.  It’s amazing how quickly the tickets run out with three kids and one adult (even though I only rode the ferris wheel).  Before long we were back to the JBER bounce area.  Before we left, I had to visit one booth with Clara.  There was one booth doing Princess Make-overs and an actually reasonable price.  They had tutus, bling, wings, halos, tiaras, nail-painting, and hair color.  I thought it was so cool.  And I thought Clara would love it.  But all day, I kept asking if she wanted to go, and all day her answer was no.  Finally, Julie and I decided to just take her on over.  We both knew that my girly little girl really did want a tutu and wings.  We got there and Clara was in tears, she didn’t want anything.  I think she was just overwhelmed by all they had going on.  But then we got to the bling area.  She had no problem picking out a necklace, bracelet, ring, and stick-on earrings.  She also found a “Super Power,” Clara translation: wand.  However, she still was saying no to everything else.  I wasn’t leaving without one of the tutus and halos though, but I decided if she didn’t want wings, I didn’t want to carry them.  After we paid and got out of the tent, she showed her true colors and wanted to put on the tutu and halo.  She ran to show her brothers and Miss Julie how beautiful she was.  Xavier looked at her and asked where her wings were.  All the sudden she also wanted to know where her wings were.  Being the push-over Mommy I am, we trooped back and got her some wings.  Being that she didn’t get her nails or hair done at the tent, I stayed up late painting nails and putting in hair curlers so that she could get the complete make-over experience.

We were back today.  Walked down to the main street just in time to get a seat on the sidewalk right before the parade started.  We have been to a parade in Alaska before, but I’d forgotten a very needed thing for attending Alaskan parades: loot bags for all the kids.  At least three-quarters of the parade participants threw candy.  Although our section of the parade route was sparsely populated, so candy was just poured into each child’s bag.  Except my kids didn’t have bags.  It didn’t stop anyone from giving to my kids.  Candy was poured into my boys outstretched hands.  Clara simply had candy dumped into her lap, I think she got extra from being so cute.  She was all decked out for today, curly hair, glitter make-up and the whole get-up from yesterday.  It was particularly funny seeing the royal court pass by.  At least half of the girls pointed out my little girl to their riding companion.  Then we were off to get lunch.  Here I have to say, my kids are the best kids ever.  Today was a zillion times more crowded than yesterday.  Between the food tents there was barely room to breathe, much less move.  It felt like me and my three little people against the world.  After after I had procured lunch, I became handless.  With my hands full of pizza and baked potato I could not steer, nor guide, nor control my little people.  Before braving the crowd, I briefed the kids on how to stay together and what to do if separated.  The kids were awesome and made it past the swarms of people into open spaces with all four of us as a group.  When they have to, my kids totally rock.  After we ate I was so glad we had come the day before as I looked at the lines for the bouncy thingamajigs.  The lines were so very long.  But the kids had done it all the day before.  So we made our way to the tent our church sponsored.  Our church decided to provide a tent with changing tables and rocking chairs for parents of little children.  As a mom, even before I worked the tent, I could see how very cool that was.  It was cool getting to work the tent for a couple of hours and see the relieved moms who had a space to change or nurse their babies.  I was surprised though when several people asked if we were charging.  One couple was just as surprised at the answer as I was at the question.  (It was free to use by the way, we weren’t even taking donations, it was just a service to our community.)  One of the other workers took pity on my boys, who were having a hard time being patient for my shift to be over so they could join the festivities again.  He took them to the “training course.”  When they returned, Xavier began a minute by minute countdown to when we got to ride rides.  The kids each got to ride a couple more rides, play a couple more games, then we rode the ferris wheel one last time.  By then we were all exhausted.  It was dinner time.  I had initially planned to eat at the fair, but the thought of facing the crowd at the food tents was daunting to this tired mother of three.  So instead we walked to Arby’s.  The food gave us just enough energy to trek back home.

The kids keep asking if we will do it again tomorrow.  Hahahaha.  It was fun, but I am done with the Bear Paw festival.  However, I am eagerly anticipating the State Fair.