The Wisconsin State Fair started on August 4th. As many of our readers know, this is an event that Everett looks forward to all year. And those of you who follow Wisconsin news may have heard about a very disturbing series of events that took place during and after the first day of the fair this year. We weren’t there and don’t know anyone who was, but it appears from witnesses that a large crowd of black youths were engaged in a series of random acts of violence that were directed at each other and at people in general who were leaving he fair. Things really got out of hand after the fair closed, and it sounds like the police were pretty unprepared (it probably doesn’t help that the state fair grounds crosses three separate police jurisdictions). Beyond the obvious concern for the safety of my family there are a lot of things that are disturbing about this: the proximity to our neighborhood, the reports that race was a major factor and the seemingly random nature of the attacks. In my mind this kind of behavior is fundamentally different from the kind of mischief and poor judgement that teenagers sometimes engage in. In particular, why the random violence? Is this a form of self expression? Or is this a reflection of racial tension and anger that they feel there is no other outlet for? I think my reactions are unsurprising for a parent: I want Everett to be safe, and I don’t want him to witness this kind of violence. But even more than that, he is currently at an age of joy, innocence and wonder, and for as long as possible I don’t even want him to know that such behavior exists. At the same time it is painful to think that there are children who have no choice in the matter, and I do wonder what kind of insulated life we are living if this much pent up anger is in our hometown and we aren’t aware of it.

After the attacks the Milwaukee Chief of Police and the Mayor assured the public that precautions had been taken and that this would not occur again. It also helps that the attacks were at night and most families with young children attend the fair during the day, which is not a popular time for teenagers. So we packed up the bikes and rode over on Sunday afternoon for some rides, animals and food.

It was a chance for Chris to eat his annual corn dog and for us to check out the latest array of horrifying yet delicious fair foods.

I never imagined you could get macaroni and cheese or spaghetti and meatballs on a stick! The fair animals are a treat for all of us. This year Melissa and I paid close attention to the many different varieties of chickens.

Recently Milwaukee passed an ordinance that domestic poultry is now permissible, and as a result people are hopeful that Wauwatosa will soon do the same. We are pretty interested in the idea but I should note that despite many (many, many) years of formal education Melissa and I display an astonishing lack of knowledge about farm life. For example: recently we asked Gramsy and Grandpa (lifelong farmers in Iowa) how many ears a corn stalk produces. I was thinking something like 5 or 10, but it turns out the answer is 1 (maybe 2). Now we have a new question for them: do chickens fly? Can we enclose them with a fence, or do they have to be in a pen? We would certainly have to keep them contained and safe from the foxes and coyotes in our neighborhood.

Everett was pretty excited this year about the carnival rides. A couple months ago we attended the Greek Fest (also at the State Fair grounds) where he saw many of the rides and latched onto two of them: the bee ride and the boat ride. At the time they weren’t running, but he has remembered them, and insisted on going on both of them at the State Fair. The boat ride he rode with Mom and again later with Gabby, Granddaddy and Trinity.

The bee ride he rode alone with seemingly no reservations.

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