LEGO Magic fairground stalls
41687, LEGO Friends
The yearly fair is back in town. And I was daft enough to tell my kids. Actually, it gets worse. I even suggested going with them. They enjoyed it – me less so.
The fair comes to Baden twice a year. Big signs announce the joyful event long before it’s here. But joyful is a relative term. It depends who’s interpreting it. For kids, it’s a fun time; not for me as a dad. But I made an effort again this year specifically because I know my kids love the whole spectacle. From breathing in the rich scent of gingerbread-like Magenbrot and chestnuts roasting in their shells to browsing through the stands.
And so, we head off to Baden shortly after 3 p.m. to plunge ourselves into the thick of the crowd. Yes, crowd. After all, the dry, fairly mild weather is good for market vendors. But me on the other hand, I have to spend the next two hours jostling through this sea of humans. Did I mention that I don’t like fairs?
Before I take you round with me, I need to tell you why I normally avoid fairs like the plague. For starters, I’d consider myself something of a penny pincher. It’s not that I don’t like to spend (a lot of) money on cool things. Rather, I like to give a great deal of thought to whether it’s worth the investment. Then, there’s the fact that I’m an impatient person who wants to get everything done as quickly as possible. You can already sense that a trip round the fair with the kids isn’t quite so compatible.
With a tidy sum of 20 francs each to play with, my son and daughter dive into the hubbub of the fair. Of course, my children discover two cool woollen hats with ears that lift up using an air pump and we’ve not even made it past the first stand. «Dad, we wanna buy that!» I’d actually resolved to watch my kids at a safe distance and grant them as much autonomy as possible – even the financial kind. But I already catch myself needing to intervene. «Kids, you can buy the hats, but they cost 20 francs. So if you do, that’s your budget used up.» Mercifully, they’re receptive to my reasoning.
What played into my hands was the fact that we intended to rummage round the fair twice. That is, from one end to another and then back. «Kids, you don’t have to buy it right away. We can always grab it on the way back if you don’t find anything better.»
So we resume our tour of the fair without buying anything for the time being. That is until my son buys – what I thought were – overpriced Pokémon cards for 2 francs. Still, I might be able to haggle with the stall holder. But it’s a dead loss. Not even my children’s sweet eyes can appease him. Speaking of stuff being overpriced, if you’re going to a fair, make sure you take wads of cash with you. I always get the feeling that everything at a fair is particularly expensive – basically, your classic rip-off. Either because stall holders know that parents can’t refuse when their children want something or that kids simply have no idea if prices are reasonable.
Obviously, food is all part and parcel of going to a fair. But not in the sense of eating healthily. Nope, fairs will cater to your needs more in terms of offering loads of tasty delights that don’t complement each other and usually come in unhealthy snack form. A quick packet of Magenbrot biscuits, then some candy floss. And obviously, you can’t omit the roasted chestnuts in their shells. Oh, and a packet of churros to finish. And hey presto, that’s 25 francs gone – which, of course, dad pays for.
Meanwhile, my daughter had her eyes on a (lovely) dream catcher for 15 francs. I’m relieved. Because I think it’s a good buy as well. But because I think you must be able to get the same dream catcher for less elsewhere, we hold off buying. But I’m quick to realise there must be some kind of fair cartel here. It doesn’t matter which stand you go to, things that are identical are priced the same.
But not always. My son wants to buy a pack of fire crackers for three francs when a teenager whispers to us: «You can get them for 1.50 francs a packet on the next stand up.» And he wasn’t wrong. We were chuffed to have snagged a bargain.
Half an hour later, and we’re sadly no longer in bargain territory. My son decided to buy a rubber Pokémon trinket for 8 (!) francs. I abandon any resistance and recall that I wanted to «leave the kids to themselves». But it took a lot effort to watch the hard-earned eight francs of pocket money go down the drain.
At the same time, I feel bad for thinking it and wonder if I’m alone in this. But I’m reassured by the following, almost hour-long field study. I keep seeing other parents with slightly pained, even hounded looks on their faces and I hear the same phrases I’ve repeated like a mantra since 3 p.m.: «Honey, are you sure you need that?», «yes, you can buy it, but that’ll mean you’ve used up all your pocket money» or «you’ve been saving up for so long. Do you really want to spend it on that?»
You also get parents who can saunter through the stands quite relaxed. Someone I know has two girls who apparently content themselves with «sniffing around» without actually wanting to part with money. That’s something I can only dream of. Conversely, I notice that my daughter, who’s now bought the dream catcher has also earmarked a little bracelet. It’s just «a little something» she has to buy.
Soon, it’s obvious why. Her brother has bought three items, so she clearly doesn’t want to lag behind. She finally opts for a cuddly plush animal that’s quite cute. The 20 francs wasn’t enough to cover all their shopping. But fortunately, they also had their saved-up pocket money with them.
Happy (the kids) and exhausted (me), we head home. Their mum got twice the benefit of our fair visit. She got to enjoy a free afternoon as well as gifts when we got back. Her daughter gave her a «Mum»-inscribed gingerbread biscuit and I got her a handmade one (at least, that’s what the stall holder said).
As for myself, I didn’t get any presents. I’m just happy it’s all over. Fortunately, there isn’t another fair for six months. And the best bit is, my kids don’t know anything about it (yet). It’s quite possible that next year’s fair somehow slips my mind completely.
LEGO Magic fairground stalls
41687, LEGO Friends
LEGO City residents' fair
60234, LEGO City
Ariete Cotton Candy Machine ARI-2973-RD Red/White
Half-Danish dad of two and third child of the family, mushroom picker, angler, dedicated public viewer and world champion of putting my foot in it.