Posted by: angelnorman | June 17, 2009

Day 2: Harvard Milk Days

After breakfast on day 2, we all piled into Krissy’s SUV and headed to Harvard Milk Days.

We rode rides:

We got our face painted (for free!)

And we even played games!

Harvard, IL is a big dairy community. Milk Days was started many years ago as a way to celebrate what milk has done for their community, other than providing them all with strong bones. According to the website, it was started in 1942 and began as a “glorified picnic”… very small scale in comparison to the small town fair-like size it is today. There were many rides, games, shows, and attractions for kids and adults. I was quite impressed by the number of kiddie rides they had, making Nick’s $15 all-access wristband seem well worth the price. He was barely tall enough to ride things by himself, because the rule was 42″ and he is, last we checked, 42” exactly. At first the lady at the slide wanted to give me a hard time, and thank goodness that Krissy stepped in and said, “Nick, stand up straighter! Let him be measured again!” She jumped in before I had a chance to even say, “Oh give me a break lady.”

I had already had enough of the midwestern ‘tude. That morning at breakfast, our server at Nick’s Kozy Nook or Kozy Kitchen or whatever it was called, was so incredibly difficult. She had such a problem with the fact that I wanted to put my kid, who sat directly behind me but at a seperate table with Krissy’s kids and husband, on my check. “Wait a minute,” she said, looking at her ticket with a confused look. “So you only want to pay for one of the kids?” Yes… is that hard? After that, none of us got very good service. She was so rude, so I made sure to lay on the kindness extra thick, as I am apt to do. I was very sincerely thanking her for ever thing she brought me. A refill of coffee? “Thank you so much,” I exclaimed. Some extra silverware? “I really appreciate it!” In return, I got nothing. No response whatsoever, just a blank face that said she’d rather have her teeth filed down to stubs than to help me any more. So I made it my goal to get her to say, “You’re welcome” by being as sweet as pie like the good southern girl I am. When I failed, Krissy and Michelle warned me to not expect much hospitality in the midwest. Things just didn’t work that way they said. I’d get a taste of this at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin too, but more on that later.

(Also… Michelle warned against looking at anyone while we were driving through the city because I could “get shot”(her words). True story. Of course, this just made me want to smile and wave at everyone I saw, and if that’s the way that I get shot, then so be it. At least I’m going down being a good person. Sheesh.)

So Nicholas finally got to ride pretty much every kid ride with no worries. He played games, he ate hot dog buns and corn dogs and cheese fries. We drank fresh-squeezed lemonade and won prizes. We even went to a church service at Milk Days and clapped for the gospel band playing on the stage. Nick was really into it. It was such a good time!

Then right before we left, we passed a booth with a monkey on a leash. For $5, you could have your picture made with the monkey. For $1, you could have the monkey take your dollar and give you a postcard in return. For $.25, you could have the monkey take your quarter and in exchange, you get good luck… and come in close contact with a real! live! monkey! for a few seconds. This made Nicholas’s face light up with absolute wonder. “Mommy, can I pet him?” He asked. The man who was holding the other end of the leash shook his head at me, shooting my kid’s dreams down. “So for money, he can get near him?” I asked. The man nodded. Fine, asshole.

I asked Krissy and Michelle if they had any quarters. Neither of them did, so Krissy asked the man if he could give us change for a dollar out of his bucket o’change on the ground in front of him. “No,” he answered. Are you freaking kidding me? “But for a dollar you can have a postcard.”

I am pretty sure that Krissy said something along the lines of, “Then you’re not getting any of my money. You can forget it.” Right to his face.

But me? I’m a sucker. I was so wanting to end my day with Nick on a positive note (as right before we played games, he had had the mother of all temper tantrums) that $1 didn’t sound so bad for even one tiny moment of happiness.

So yeah… it seems I’m easily manipulated by my kid and by money-hungry monkey handlers alike.

The monkey walked over, took our dollar from Nick’s hands, and came back with a postcard for us. He handed it to him and Nicholas smiled.

As we were walking to the pony rides, our last activity before heading back to Krissy’s comfortable home, Nick looked up at me and proudly showed me his postcard. “A monkey gave me this,” he whispered, his little voice indicating that his mind had officially been blown by the whole experience.

$1 couldn’t have bought a better laugh for me that afternoon.



  1. I feel horrible you had such a bad time everywhere you went within Harvard and Wisconsin. I grew up in Lake geneva and live in Walworth and work in Harvard. My church had put on the service in the tent that you attended. I hope you are nt trying to pick out the flaws everywhere you go but try to enjoy every minute you get to spend with your family. I hope that the next time you come to visit maybe ask some questions to the locals about their communities because there is alot of pride in the people around here. Milk Days is more than just a “Picnic” this is a month long celebration of community and yes the Dairies. These Dairies are not just celebrated by people who enjoy milk but was started because od the sense of pride people around here had as they took thier part in helping feed the young men who went to war many years ago and had to up the production to help the young American’s fighting for our country. If you would like more information about these communities please ask.

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