I hadn’t been to the State Fair since probably middle school or earlier. When I was little I remember not really thinking much of it, it was kind of boring. I wasn’t really into all the farm animals or walk-through buildings. I liked the model trains. I think I liked the rides too, but that was when I was really young, memories of which I don’t have any more. I do remembering wanting to ride the sky ride that took you from one end of the park to the other – I considered it a ride in itself. And there were lumberjacks too, and how can you not like lumberjacks?
After at least 15 years away from the fair we decided to go back. However, we had a purpose besides just going to the fair – we went to rock. Our (now) 3-year Over-the-Hill metal tour continued on with Slaughter and Quiet Riot. Admission to the fair was included with the concert tickets so we decided to make a day out of it.
Frankly, nothing has changed at the Fair all that much. Naturally it seemed a little smaller than what I remember, but all the essentials were there. But this time I enjoyed the animals a little more. When I was little I didn’t like the smell and I think I was afraid of them, but chilling with the sheep and horses this time was pretty enjoyable. Too my dismay, however, the model train feature has been reduced to a mere tent with one train setup. Having grown up with model trains the Train Building was always a highlight. It was HUGE with a ton of train layouts. A shame to think that the model trains were bullied out of there building by old ladies showing off hook-pull rugs and log cabin quilts.
Perhaps the nicest corner of the fair has always been the Natural Resources section where you’d find the lumberjacks and Smokey Bear. This part of the Fair was all-natural as it was there to educate everyone about water safety, endangered animals, and not playing with matches. And ODNR section is still the nicest part of the fair. It’s relaxing and has lots of space where you can sit and watch people. Watching Smokey Bear talk to children is very entertaining.
But after all that fun we did come for one purpose – metal. We had come to see Slaughter, despite their status as opening act. I have never really been a Quiet Riot fan, but Slaughter was right up my alley of early-90s last-chance hair metal.
Slaughter played a very good show, far better than I had expected. I knew th show would either be really good or really bad, thankfully Mark Slaughter has taken care of himself and his voice. Some of the renditions of their songs were a little different, but all-in-all sounded great. Slaughter even took off into the audience at one point – still singing – something you won’t see from many other bands. I would have to guess that Slaughter realizes they are at a state fair and are just happy to be playing. I can respect that. And by the end of their set the drummer had totally trashed his drum kit – first accidentally but he quickly finished it off in true metal fashion.
A quick reset brought out Quiet Riot. The lead singer looked like a Rod Stewart gone bad and danced like he was Mick Jagger. To his credit, his voice was intact just as good as it was 25 years ago. The original drummer was also there to keep the beat, but the guitars were new guys, although each doing their part well. Both bands played a little under an hour of music – perfect considering their age. Of course, both bands have new albums out if you believe that.
Now this being a state-sponsored event, the Fair that is, every performance must have a sign language translator for the deaf. Let me tell you there is nothing more entertaining than watching some middle-aged women try to hand signal out Slaughter and Quiet Riot songs. They had to translate live and their signals were hilarious. I’m not knocking signalers, I feel for them in this type of situation, and they’re doing the best they can. Can you imagine having to sign, “I want to kiss your lips and not the ones on your face”? Check the clip below for a little taste of the signing that was included with the video screens.
And just keep track of the rock we’ve digested over the past few years: Poison (B+), Motley Cure (F-), Journey (A), Cinderalla (B+), Quiet Riot (A), Slaughter (A), Aerosmith (A+), Guns N Roses (B+), Def Leppard (B). We’ve been lucky that most of these guys still sound pretty alright.