Neck fest could use Tilt-A-Whirl
Published May 18, 2005
Well, I did it. I went out last weekend and got Long Necked. Not by myself, of course. My two girls and a set of their grandparents joined me on my expedition to the Long Neck Wildlife Festival.
On the way there, we decided we didn’t have enough kids in the car. So we stopped and picked up Grace and Belinda Watson. With my Suburban packed full of females, with the exception of my poor dad, we finally arrived at the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Center.
It’s not easy to get two 6-year-olds and a 4-year-old to decide what they want to do first. But they finally agreed upon venturing inside the highly educational (and air-conditioned) Wetlands Center.
Once inside, they “ahhhed” over baby alligators, “ewwwed” over dead fish on ice, and squealed when a fiddler crab in one of the touch tanks got really ticked off at a festival volunteer. Then we went to the science lab, where kids could look at stuff through microscopes. Here, we found yellow-shirted festival volunteers John and Donna Britt. These were two volunteers who were smart enough to stay away from the fiddler crabs.
Outside the Wetlands Center, on a shaded bank of Goose Creek, we found an archery range. Julia, my 6-year-old, decided to try it out. After a few assisted tries, she took a shot all on her own. The arrow flew from her bow and sank right into the leg of a fake deer. She was thrilled. I mentally crossed “Buy Julia the new ‘Bambi’ DVD” off my to-do list.
And right next door, you could try your hand at roping a fake calf. I’m a bit much of a city girl for that, but Grace, after a little help, finally got her lasso around the little guy. Belinda and I chose not to test our skills. But I must note, as Belinda proved later in the day, that she is a champion moonwalk-jumper.
As for the youngest member of our party, 8-month-old Jenna, she took one look at the festival happenings and filled up her diaper. Event organizers, please don’t take this personally.
After several hours, the girls — snow cones, candy and free coloring books in hand — were tired. We boarded the Suburban and headed home.
Best deal: All the free exhibits at the Wetlands Center.
Worst deal: Paying $30 for wristbands for three kids to jump around on the inflatables for 15 minutes. I understand the wristbands were good for the whole weekend, and, as much as my child would love to spend an entire, warm, spring weekend bouncing around in an oven-like moonwalk, we do have a life outside of the Long Neck Festival. I haven’t spent thirty bucks that fast since ... well, last week. When I put a quarter-tank of gas in my car.
Anyway, aside from a severe case of “sticky hands” that resulted from Julia, Grace and Belinda indulging themselves in cotton candy, we had a good time.
But it could be better. I didn’t have to wait to read the newspaper to know the turnout was disappointing. Here’s my idea for next year: Let’s have a midway. Nothing brings out the crowds like rickety rides put together by drifters with screwdrivers. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the risk factor. The emphasis on birds and nature is nice, but why not have a Tilt-A-Whirl to go with it?
Just something to think about.
Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.