Yesterday was the annual celebration of our tiny little country town, or as I like to think of it, the Gathering of the Goofs.
All week we have been taking in such events as the greased pig tackle, watermelon seed spitting and pie eating contests, little buckaroo rodeo, chili cook-offs, outdoor straw dance, and the beauty pagents. Fun stuff.
Saturday morning we got up bright and early for the parade. Half the adults and nearly every kid will either walk, ride bikes, sit on a horse (or buffalo - really), wave from a float, throw candy from a fire truck, or sit on the top of the back seat of a convertible. With the exception of Christmas time when Santa rides on the top of a firetruck tossing candy to all the kiddies, this is the most excitement we get all year.
As I sit in my folding-little-league-butt-holder-chair waiting for the parade to start so I can do my motherly duties and wave at my 9 year old when he cruises past on his decorated bike, I get a sudden urge to go home and get my cutting shears. I have never seen such a gathering of permed hair with big bangs on women and the short on top, long in back hair on men. The only variance with the men was that half had the long hair in back spiral permed. GAWD that looks stupid!
I also see that almost 1/4 of the men are chewing tobacco, the rest must be practicing Mormons. Nearly everyone is wearing Wranglers and cowboy boots.
The parade progression is as follows:
Every fire engine in the county w/sirens blarring.
Boy Scouts presenting the flag.
City officials riding in antique cars.
Beauty queens riding on the top of the back seats of convertible sports cars.
Rodeo queens riding horses.
Rodeo champs on their horses.
Kids on floats.
Kids on bikes.
A lady riding a buffalo.
Flatbed truck carrying cheerleaders.
The school marching band.
I convinced my 9 year old (the older kids are off with their friends) that we would have a much better time hiking up a new trail I heard about from someone at work than staying at the fair. I also reminded him that we will be going to Lagoon (a large amusement park) next weekend, where they have COOL rides.
Actually, what I didn’t tell him was that it was my silent protest to the “new and improved” fair. In past years, the fair has been simple but fun. The scariest ride was the big steel wheels attached to a seat that spins around. No motor, no gears, just two guys on either side who flip you around until you turn green and they decide to let you off. The other rides were swing seats attached to horse walkers. You sit in the swing and twirl around. It doesn’t go fast, but the little kids loved it. We also had those blow-up jumping things and a little train pulled by a tractor.
We had the old fashion fishing pond, ring toss over Coke bottles, dunking pool, and tossing ping pong balls into Mason jars of frogs.
The food was cooked on BBQ grills by the mayor, sheriff, and fire chief. It was pretty good, considering.
Everything (games and rides) cost .50 cents. The food was very reasonably priced as well.
Til this year.
Someone got a wild notion to bring in the pros. Big, ricketty, dirty rides, operated by toothless, stinky, lung hackin’, carnies. Not only do the rides suck, they cost $5.00 buck each! Our summer Lagoon passes cost $65.00 each for the entire season AND they have exciting SAFE rides.
No longer are there games to win frogs and little plastic toys from the fish pond, now there are carnival games that cost $3.00 each just to throw too-small hula hoops over big stuffed dogs. Rip-offs.
The food is sold by sweaty, toothless, hairy-pit, tatoo-sportin’, mustache-wearin’, old women. No thanks, I’ll starve.
What the hell are the town officials thinking?
We head far away from town for our hike.
For a small town, we have always had awesome fireworks!
I shower the trail dirt out of my hair and body, put on clean shorts and tank top, grab the blankets and pillow and head for the park to meet friends. We take our usually spot right next to the yellow safety tape the fire department puts up. (The BEST spot to watch fireworks is up close, so close you have to lay flat on the ground to see them.)
This is my favorite part.
The entire park is dark but alive with parents on blankets and little kids throwing glow sticks into the air. The local band, Distant Thunder, blares rock and roll through the park. They are fantastic as usual, that is why they are back for their 12th year. There are people, young and old, dancing and laughing and throwing glow-in-the-dark Frisbys and glowsticks.
Before they begin their last song, one of the lead singers announce that the next song is dedicated to Don. Don was their lead guitarist and the originator of the band. He was also one of my very best friends. He had a heartattack and died last March. The band then proceeded to play the most beautiful song I have every heard. The words and melody fit Don perfect. I sat in the darkness with tears rolling down my face, looking around at all the lauging people and thinking how they didn’t understand.
The fireworks began and as always, it was very impressive. There is really no way to describe how it feels to be laying directly beneath the huge explosions of color.
Today the carnies are packing up and we are almost back to normal.