SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
I saw on my planner that Albion’s Harvest Fest was coming up, which left me with mixed feelings.
Not about the Harvest Fest; about the planner. All that neat organizational material, and all I use it for is to write a few dates down. It’s not a planner; it’s a salute to my disorganization.
Sorry, I went off on a tangent … which is like an alley only without an exit. I never used to be a big fan of harvest festivals, which are sometimes known as Oktoberfest’s and thus used to take place in October. See, the idea was to celebrate the harvest – after the harvest.
Farmers didn’t have time to celebrate during the harvest. You’ve heard of the harvest Moon? That wasn’t some fun party thing: That was so farmers before modern lighting could work late into the night to get their crops in. Try to tell a guy who’s working 18 hour days that he needs to take a weekend off to throw a party.
(Actually, I think Oktoberfest’s are more about beer, but just go with me on this one.)
I’m all for a good harvest because of the whole eating thing, but by the time harvesting really is winding down winding up my annual cold weather depression, which happens annually and can be very depressing. And cold. While the farmers count up their bushel prices to learn whether they’ll be able to pay taxes this year, I’m popping Zoloft and looking into the concept of having my body frozen until spring. I mean, frozen in a way that allows me to sleep through it – my body is already frozen all through winter, but I’d rather not remember.
Now Albion’s Harvest Fest is in mid-September – the 17th and 18th, this year – which for me is more reasonable. Indiana in September is much like Indiana in May, in that you don’t know if it’ll be hot or cold, but frostbite is a rarity.
What this means, of course, is that most farmers are too busy harvesting to go to harvest festivals. For the rest of us, they’re a lot of fun. Festivals, I mean, not farmers.
My memories of Albion’s Harvest Fest are vague, because it’s been almost a whole year and I can barely remember whether I had hamburgers or pasta for breakfast. (Yeah, I work a weird schedule.) But here are either weird hallucinations or highlights of what you might find:
Civil War reenactors. These people are both tough guys and true history nerds, which is a rare combination. Ask them anything about the daily life of a soldier in the late 1800’s, and they know the answer and are happy to fill you in … so don’t ask any leading questions about latrines or toilet paper. I did, and I’m scarred.
Every now and then they’ll shoot off a cannon, and in theory they’re prepared just in case the South rises again. However, if memory serves, the ones in Albion last year actually were Confederates; which means they beat Robert E. Lee’s furthest invasion into the North by a good few hundred miles.
Wagon rides. Not just wagon rides, but horse drawn wagon rides. You can’t get that in big cities, except maybe around Central Park in New York. There’s just something about a hay ride in autumn, although in my case, since I’m allergic to hay, that something can be fatal.
Flea markets. Go ahead, say it – who wants to buy fleas? One year a guy was selling Civil War era rifles, and I had such a desire to take one over to the reenactors and challenge them to a duel. But those people are serious business and probably would have taken me up on it, and I wasn’t in the mood for a replay of Pickett’s Charge.
A car show. What do cars have to do with harvests? Um … well, they sell a lot of ethanol, these days. Last year I got to take a look at my fire department’s 1979 brush truck, now reconditioned and in mint condition, and relive the sometimes hair raising adventures I had in it. It was probably the newest vehicle there, but it was also the one I was riding in when it ran over trees, got clipped by a passing truck, and got stuck in soft ground and almost overrun by fire. Good times.
Food. What would anything containing the word “fest” be like without food? I’m a pork burger fan, myself, but I wouldn’t turn down an elephant ear. (They’re not real; relax, PETA). Also, the only two places to get really good popcorn are festivals and movie theaters, and at the former you don’t have to pay a dollar a kernel.
The corn maze. No, not maize … although if that was still the name for corn around here we could rename this event The Amazing Maize Maze Days, and who would be against that? This particular maze has clues you have to answer as you choose your direction, but don’t worry: Everyone makes it out. Except for those two people from last year who vanished without a trace. On a related note, if you stumble across some skeletons don’t mess with them. They may be decorations, or they may not.
They also had kite flying, a rope challenge course, a kiddie train ride, and I’m forgetting something because I always do, but it was really cool.
So come on down to this year’s Harvest Fest, and enjoy yourself … but if you encounter me, do not complain about the heat or wish for cold, and if you encounter Confederate Soldiers, don’t make fun of Jefferson Davis.
Also, if you’re a farmer … well, we’ll see you in a month or two.