The highlight of the state fair, however, was an experience that Willow has been asking after for literally YEARS:
Willow has been longing to fish.
I feel a little guilty about this, actually, since my people are all avid hobby fishermen, and as child my Papa used to introduce me to his co-workers from Dixie Cup as "my fishing buddy." Oh, I can tell you stories--the time I got a fish hook caught in the back of my head, the time that I mistook the minnow that was my bait for a fish that I'd just caught, the time that I caught the biggest fish in the entire world but Papa pretended to slip and dropped him back into the water because it was a carp and carp make terrible eating.
I haven't fished since I was a child, but it must run in one's blood, because Willow was born longing to fish, and NEVER have I taken her.
At the state fair, however, the Indiana DNR runs a stocked pond, filled with catfish and bluegill, manned by DNR volunteers, whose sole purpose is to give children the experience of fishing.
We wouldn't have missed it for the world.
I heartily approved of how child-friendly they made the experience. Instead of a fishing pole with a reel, which requires casting, the children all used fiberglass cane poles, which are vastly more user-friendly. They also used barb-less hooks, which eases the release of the fish and negates the possibility of bloody little incidents like my own childhood barbed-fishhook-in-the-scalp experience.
The volunteers, too, assisted the children at every step:
And they were just as thrilled as the girls were every time they landed a fish, for land a fish they did:
Sydney caught three fish, and although the actual fish business was the part of the process that she was least enthusiastic about, she was a trooper regardless:
Willow, however, could not have been happier about the two fish that she caught:
She was eagerly engaged in every part of the process, from baiting the hook herself to gently lowering her fish back into the water and watching it swim away again:
Will's plans for our future farm have since expanded to include our own fishing pond, also stocked with catfish and bluegill.
And in my mental checklist of the children's dreams and aspirations, I have duly noted--"Willow: Fishing. Goal achieved."