Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pig Out in the Park: Spokane, WA

It isn't very often that I get to travel with someone else when I go on my business trips.  And even less often is my husband able to join me on the road.  So this time, when I was making a day trip over to Spokane, about a 3 hour drive from my house, I worked it out for David to come along.  Plus, he has been wanting to go to Spokane for a while since they are the closest place to us that has a woodworking store.  So the plan is for me to work on that Friday with my customer, he will go to the woodworking store (and the movies as it turned out) and then we will go to Pig Out in the Park in the evening.

Pig Out in the Park is a 6 day long event that has been going on for 35 years.  I have been to Riverfront Park before on a previous trip to Spokane and spent time walking the trails by the river.  There is also a carousel and some other kids rides along with a SkyRide that I will talk about a little later.  The flyer we picked up at our hotel says there are 40 food booths with 225 menu items, 3 beer gardens and 100 concerts.  Admission is priced right at $0.  Of course you pay for the food.
The flyer boasts that there is "nothing over a measly $9.95" and that there are "$3 bites offered daily between 3-5 PM and 9-10 PM.  These are smaller portions designed to let you sample more options because most of the options are really large.  Unfortunately the use of the word "measly" isn't working for me right now because we just walked past a bunch of homeless people that would probably be able to eat for days on that amount and I just finished reading the book "7:  An experimental mutiny against excess" by Jen Hatmaker and it is still working me mentally.
There is one fortunate thing about being at a Pig Out event on this particular weekend as opposed to any of the next 12...we are starting The Biggest Loser contest at work this week.  My goal is that one day when my coworkers are sitting around contemplating who might want to participate, they think about me and say "no way" because I would obviously not need to be in the contest.  Not only am I in the contest but I will be the coordinator/cheerleader this time so once it starts, I can't be running around at a Pig Out event.  I mention all of this to David who says "Pork Out Honey".  Not really what you want your husband to say to you.  EVER. But, we am here and starting weigh in is next week so let's see what we can find.
I advance scouted the brochure and one of the first booths we come to has something I want.
Chocolate covered fruit.  Okay, some of you are thinking, what?  Fruit?  At a Pig Out event based on carnival and fair food?  Where's the beef?  Or as David put it, "MMMMM, I smell charred flesh". 
Okay one more confession.  I've been a vegetarian since April.  Or at least as close to one as I am likely to be.  Some say I am a fake-vegetarian because I still eat fish.  And eggs.  And as my sister-in-law pointed out to me:  eggs are just boneless chicken.
So I have to leave the meat booths up to David who is searching for the bacon-wrapped hot dog vendor.  I took a photo of that but I think I had some chocolate smudged on the lens because it didn't come out.
The portion sizes at most of the vendors is HUGE.  And there is a LOT of variety including Chinese, Greek, Mexican, BBQ, a Mongolian Grill, pizza, Italian sausages, Cajun and more.  I tried to talk David into trying a Glazed Donut Burger (where the donut is the "bun") but he was too set on the bacon hot dog to oblige.
I have some issues with eating at potluck events where I haven't seen the kitchen of the person providing the dish.  You can see a lot of these "kitchens" but remember, this is an outdoor event.  In the summer.  So when I was looking in here, I could see the flies crawling on those noodles.  We moved on.
It was very hard to find something not made predominately of sugar and not made of beef/chicken/pork/turkey/all of those mashed together.  I finally decided on Baja Babes Shrimp Tacos.  I can't see inside so if there are flies, I am blissfully unaware.  The price was good too at $3 for one taco.
It was just enough for me and would not be so much food that you couldn't partake elsewhere later.  And I learned something when I ordered that made me feel a little better.
Some of the booths, including Baja Babe's, had a donation can for 2nd Harvest which provides meals for the needy.  I made a donation to offset the excess of this event which is causing me more stress than usual after reading that book.
We arrived around 3:30 and it was full but not seriously crowded.  You could make your way up and down the aisles fairly easily and we never stood more than 2-3 deep in line.  We are able to make the full round in an hour or so.  In addition to the food there are bands set up in 3 areas (mostly local, the only name I recognized is Los Lobos who will perform later at the main stage, we won't be there).  There is a kids area the usual bounce house and a balloon animal maker dressed like clown Elvis and a craft/vendor area where there are several fortune tellers set up.  In the past I have had my tarot read, my palm read and my bones read so I am all set but offered for David to try it.   He passed.
At this point I thought we would have eaten more but nothing is calling out to either of us that strongly.  We decide to go on the SkyRide and then make another round through the park and see if our appetites perk up.
SkyRide is a permanent feature at Riverside Park, it is not special to the festival.  You ride in a car over a suspended cable out past the falls.
The ride isn't very long but the falls are really nice and you get a good view of them.  There is also a walkway and some stairs you can use to get down to this view but we didn't know that before and probably still would have done the ride.  I read that this is the second largest "urban" waterfall in the country.
After the ride we still aren't ready so we walk across the street to the mall and check out movie times.  Nothing is going to work so we go down the street and happen on Boo Radley's.  This shop has a lot of unusual items and we start looking for things for our kids.
I consider buying this for my daughter who recently started a food blog.  I did end up buying her a cookbook called "What the F$%@ Should I Make For Dinner" which was really funny but the recipes also looked really good.  The guy who wrote that book has a website but be warned, the F$#@ is not spelled like that on the site...
At this point, I am ready to start calling it a day.  The after work crowd is beginning to arrive at the festival and when we go back over there, we find it much harder to navigate the aisles.  But I want to try one last thing.
Deep Fried Twinkies have been a staple of the State Fair Of Texas for years.  I think it might have been one of the things that started the whole fried revolution were anything and everything can be fried (ice cream, coke, butter).  So, we see a vendor and buy one.  David gets a Deep Fried Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  Let me say that neither of these items are made better by Deep Frying them (I ate 2 bites and threw the rest of the mushy mess away).
I'm glad we went and I would go to something like this again if I happened to be in the area and there wasn't something more compelling to do, as was the case on this trip.  I am going to leave you with some one-liners.  For those of you familiar with my blog, you know what's coming.  If you are new, these are comments made by someone on the trip.  Who that someone is or was, remains up to you to decide. 
  • When it pokes out, it pokes out.
  • I forgot, I'm not talking to you right now.
  • I didn't know it was going to spray you.
  • If I was going to take a picture of a bridge, it would be a bridge over troubled water.
  • What is that noise, did you fart?
  • I got chocolate on my shirt for you.
  • I smell bacon.
  • I think your taste buds are dead.

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