Apple Bobbing With Bart
The air is starting to chill and the crisp leaves are falling around me as I wander through the twisted paths, ducking under bent branches and hoping nothing spooky pops out from behind a rotting tree. The Haunted Woods have a way of making it seem like night time is always present, a darkness that is all encompassing that never allows the sun to shine through. It's the perfect location for the ghosts of Neopia to reside, terrorizing those who walk alone and taunting anyone who thinks that ghosts don't exist. It is also the perfect location for Neopia's shadiest characters, those who are outcast from regular society for their suspicious behavior and unwelcoming smiles. These seedy people have come together to open one of the worst gambling operations ever known, The Deserted Fairgrounds. This is a place where those too trusting play a series of carnival games hoping to strike it big, blissfully unaware that every single game is rigged against their favor and that they are just lining the pockets of scammers and scoundrels.
Astonishingly the fairgrounds have just grown in popularity, the odds are against you but the occasionally story of one in a billion winning a jackpot has enticed enough people to make this a consistent business. It's a wonder the Neopian police department hasn't shut them down, but I guess it is up to the guests to decide for themselves how they want to spend their money. The success of this place has spread outside the fairgrounds, a traveling caravan of these villains have taken to the road and they set up shop around the different lands to bring the very rigged games right to your front door! The most famous of these games is run by a green Gnorbu with patchy clothes named Vandebart Biggsby. Vandebart, more well known just as Bart, runs the Apple Bobbing game which has surged to popularity and is one of the main attractions of the Haunted Faire.
You can visit Bart once per day to try your luck in the bobbing barrel: a large barrel filled with water and various prizes. You dunk your head in and chomp around with your teeth in hopes of grabbing a worthwhile prize, most having to do with apples. There is an avatar available if you are able to find the elusive Imposter Apple, but don't keep your hopes up. The prizes vary from books like Apple Bobbing Bart: A Biography, to petpets like the Apple Spyder, to some delicious food items like the Unconverted Apple or White Chocolate Ghosts. Before you rush over and dip your head in you must know that winning a prize isn't the only thing that could happen, with every temptation comes a chance of a curse. Many Neopians have reported dipping their head in and when they come back out their pockets have been ransacked, missing Neopoints or items from their inventory!! On top of that the water used isn't exactly the cleanest, and no one really knows how often Bart swaps it out, so your pet could come down with an illness like Blurred Vision, lose some hit points, or come out less happy than when they went in. At first it seems like a harmless activity you could get a quick prize from but that just isn't the angle the Haunted Faire is trying to take!
I was hoping to get an interview with Bart about his apple cart and the Haunted Faire as a whole, and I reached out to him many times receiving no response. After months of hounding him, calling his phone, writing Neomails, terrified I wouldn't get the story done in time for the season, he wrote back to me. He did decline the interview but he gave me a statement:
"Ah-ha, so many apologies to you for not being able to write sooner. I am sure you can imagine a man like me is very busy this time of year, and all times of year! I am not available for an interview, there is much more work to be done to get the caravan set up and established. I started this Apple Bobbing activity many years ago and it became wildly popular, lines down the path each day, and then the idea struck me: I want to offer more!! I just could not bring myself to settle down in the Deserted Fairgrounds though, those people like Sidney are boooooooooring and I want to see the world! One of the reasons I got into games is because it lets me meet so many wonderful contestants, I had to go on the road with my games. Apple Bobbing wasn't enough so I enlisted some help from my pals, building a traveling Wheel Of Misfortune and creating the game Haunted Hijinks. I spent a lot of time last year making the perfect menu for the Spooky Food Eating Contest as well, busy busy me!!
But I digress, there is work to be done. We spend all year living in the Deserted Cart with all of our props and games...tight quarters, not a lot of privacy, no. It's a career of passion though, we don't do it for money but because it makes us happy. Though we are thankful it makes us a living and puts food on the table at the end of the day!! Many think I'm some evil man...I just want to live the dream and see the world, I don't mean any harm. If I gave out prizes to every contestant I'd have nothing left for myself, I would not be able to bring the game to those who wanted to play!! Not everyone can be a winner, it is a hard lesson for many to learn. As for the claims that I pickpocket my gamers...I would never. I'm not like my relative Eliv Thade, we are bound by blood but that kind of evil doesn't run in the blood. I thank you for reaching out to me and spreading the word about the Faire before we arrive in town. I hope to see you attend this year!
With love and apples,