Nifty gadgets hold court at state fair

From lamps to glue, the state fair has wares for all sorts of shoppers.
Thursday, August 19, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:51 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

If the soles of your sneakers have begun to separate from the rest of the shoe, you might want to step into the Varied Industries Building at the Missouri State Fair. Someone will offer to fix the problem — using aviation-strength glue from Germany.

Billed as “the last glue you’ll ever need,” this German marvel is just one of the nifty products on display at this year’s fair.

Jeremy Crites of Oklahoma City spends the day demonstrating the glue. He’ll fix shoes, hats or anything else that needs repair. He’s also happy to pour the glue on his bare skin to prove it won’t bond.

At the fair, it’s all about showmanship. Crites said he sells about 100 bottles of glue in a day, $15 for 0.3 ounces — but you can get twice as much for $5 more.

Fairs have always been a place for sellers to demonstrate their latest wares. The 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis introduced inventions such as the electric clock and the telephone answering machine. This year’s Missouri State Fair has a number of items at least as interesting as an electric clock.

Since you won’t need to purchase glue again after your trip the fair, you might as well pick up a flashlight guaranteed to last 150,000 hours without batteries or light bulbs. It’s called the Shake ’N Glow (well, technically it’s the EM Energy Flashlight, but that doesn’t look as good on a sign), and its capacitor is charged when you shake it. About 30 seconds of shaking equals more than 10 minutes of light, all for $19.95.

If you have allergies, you can try a salt lamp. Salt lamps, large glowing chunks of salt, purify the air using negative ions. The price and potency of these lamps vary depending on size, but you can purify your bedroom for about $25.

When you enter the Varied Industries Building, it feels like walking into an infomercial. Plenty of products are recognizable from late-night television. In one corner, fairgoers watch as Jack LaLanne’s Power Juicer is demonstrated. Twenty feet away, Chef Tony’s Miracle Blade III is being put through its paces, sawing into a brass bar and then slicing through shoe leather as easily as butter at room temperature.

Other products include: the Ultimate Salsa Maker, the Super Peeler, a computerized sewing machine, Custom Baseball Caps (made while you watch), No Clog Gutters and an assortment of massage chairs. Massage products are very popular at the fair, actually, with massage pillows and computerized — computerized is also big — portable massagers as well.

These products may be available elsewhere, but there’s no substitute for the atmosphere of the fair. Monroe Hauschild from the Shake ’N Glow booth said you can get the EM Energy Flashlight at JC Penney, but the employees won’t be able to help you.

“Most employees don’t know how to demonstrate it,” Hauschild said. “If I ask ‘Where’s the flashlight with no batteries or bulbs?’ they don’t know what I’m talking about.”

In addition, if you buy the flashlight at the fair, you’ll get $10 to $20 off of the department store cost. Other vendors have similar deals; they’ve been authorized to cut prices or throw in an extra filet knife for fairgoers.

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