Hats off to the fair

We all have our dreams when we go to the fair.

For my oldest daughter, Abby (who is so freshly 13 she was 12 when she walked through the gate), that dream was ditching her mother in favor of her friends. Apparently they’re “not embarrassing” and “don’t throw up” when they go on fast rides like the merry-go-round.

My youngest, Johanna (who is 7), had a different dream: Fedora ownership. When Abby took off with her friends to go ride something of dubious origin that I didn’t really want to witness anyway, Johanna’s first question was, “Can we go look for my fedora now?”

So that’s what we did. We went looking for Johanna’s dream fedora. We passed by the rides, the food carts and the business displays, and found our way to the booths overflowing with all sorts of wares: Squirt guns that shoot bubbles, T-shirts, area rugs, glow sticks and hats. Including a pile of fedoras!

The guy running the booth was thrilled when we stopped. Apparently fedoras aren’t high on everyone’s wish list. He clued-in pretty quickly that Johanna was the one running the show, and announced that, while the hats sold for $10 and he only makes 75¢ profit on each, he would give it to us for $8 because he could tell the little girl loved his hats.

Is there a fake straw equivalent of pleather? Because that’s what these were made of. Hot pink, leopard print, striped and plain, Johanna had quite the selection to choose from. She noticed fairly quickly that the hats were made in China — yes, I am one of those consumers — and I couldn’t decide if I felt more guilty about the sweatshop labor, the chemicals I was most likely exposing my baby to or the fact that my values are so easily compromised where cheap fedoras and life dreams are concerned.

Eventually Johanna decided that the plain “straw” fedora with the black band was THE fedora she’d always been looking for (for the last week and a half, anyway), and I paid the guy his $8.

Johanna was thrilled. I got a lot of hugs and kisses, as did the hat. I’m not sure how long this particular fedora is going to last — as I write, there are already “strings” coming loose, and Johanna isn’t known in our family for her carefulness — but I do know this:

Best $8 I’ve ever spent.

P.S. My dream was to see the exhibits this year — not something high on either of the girls’ lists — and for 10 lovely, ride-free minutes, I did get to peruse the quilts and the art. So yes, everyone’s fair dreams came true in my little family this year. My dream for next year’s fair? To get to see the baked goods, too…

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