Carnival games

Leah Robertson and Kyle Green of Newport Beach won playing the baseball toss carnival game. (B.W. Cook / July 27, 2013)

It has taken me years to figure out the secret formula that keeps bringing folks back to the OC Fair summer after summer, year after year. Admittedly, on some matters, I am a slow learner. This year, walking down the midway, the magic of the fair became crystal clear.

Looking around at the crowd, there were people of every age from infants to elders, every size and shape, multiethnic and multinational. That's no surprise. What hit me like a brick was the fact that they were all really only 10 years old. That's the magic. Going to the fair turns all of us into wide-eyed, enthusiastic, wondrous 10-year-olds — not six, not 12, but that perfect 10-year age between childhood dependence and teenage independence. The secret formula lets us forget, if only for a few hours, all of the responsibility of adulthood and, for the young, all of the angst of coming to terms with a big world.

So, dear friends and fellow fair lovers, in the style of David Letterman, here's my personal top 10 attractions at the OC Fair that enable me to be 10 again. For the past 20 or so years, these are my own points of destination, somewhat in order of delight.

1. The Petting Zoo. Have you ever seen a six-foot-five man amidst chickens, rabbits and llamas so happy?

2. The Centennial Farm. Vegetables may be the most beautiful things on earth. Who can get more excited over giant squash?

3. The Pig Pen. I can't eat bacon for a month after watching the baby pigs in the pen.

4. The Elephant Ride. Can't find Dumbo this year. I think the elephant ride was outlawed. That's OK. I always felt bad for the elephant, God's most amazing creature. Elephants and roses are certainly evidence of divine power.

5. The Giant Steer. It is possible that this is the same giant piece of beef year after year? What is the animal eating? Don't let professional athletes in on the secret diet. Steroid use will become child's play in comparison.

6. The Jewelry Cleaner Booth. Give the lady your cubic zirconia ring and she will turn it into a sparkling treasure. Can't leave the fair without one of those jars of pink magic cleaner.

7. Vitamix For Life. You can blend anything from steak and ice cream to celery root and peanut butter. I think we buy a new machine every year. They are lined up on the kitchen counter.

8. B-B-Que Corn Stand. Two ears are better than one.

9. Cinnamon Buns. The line never ends. Extra cream cheese frosting if you please.

10. The Fortune Teller. Sadly, I could not find her this year. Every summer we visit this kindly soothsayer. She knows the entire family and she remembers us all from childhood on. We have lived by her words and swear everything she predicts comes to pass.

It's all happening at the fair. That's what the song says anyway. And it's true. Transform yourself into your perfect 10-year-old being and escape. The OC Fair is here until Aug. 11. Maybe I'll see you in line for the Ferris wheel — that is, if I can overcome my fear of heights.

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Corona del Mar-based STYLE 2020, a personal styling service for women and men, is planning a special "fall fashion field trip" Aug. 14 at South Coast Plaza. Glamorous head stylist Lisa Marmorino and her team of talented fashion trend-setters will take a select group of some 20 guests on an "insiders" day tour of the world-famous shopping resort. The field trip begins at 10:30 a.m. in the diamond salon at Tiffany & Co. for a lecture on color, clarity and carats. Champagne lunch follows at stylish Marche Moderne on the penthouse level. After lunch, Saks Fifth Avenue welcomes the group for an exclusive showing of fall fashion followed by makeup styling and finally a visit to the ultra-exclusive Loro Piana to learn about the finest cashmere on the planet. The fall fashion field trip is priced at $100 and reservations are limited to the first 20 requests. Call Lisa at (949) 723-3400 for information and to reserve your spot.

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In last Friday's column, we reported a special cut-a-thon taking place this Sunday to benefit stylist Paul Salazar, who is recovering from recent critical surgery. The event takes place at the Hampton Salon, and the phone number was incorrectly listed. To support Salazar and to make an appointment, please call salon manager Christine at (949) 854-6100.

THE CROWD runs Fridays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.