Step right up, folks, and keep and eye on that cow’s ass…

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Mornin’ all.

I got up this morning and the 90’s Ace of Base song “I Saw the Sign” was playing on the radio. There are far worse ways to start the day, my friend. I had to keep myself from singing it out loud and my bebopping almost spilled my coffee. What can I say? I can’t be held responsible for coffee spills when a 90’s track takes hold.

The song holds a special place in my heart. Two, actually. The first is that it was oddly one of my father’s favorites. It would play and he’d point his fingers and make a Bill Cosby face and shuffle around the house sorta to the beat. He did that to Milli Vanilli’s “Wishing Well” and pretty much anything by Paula Abdul, too, but I never held that against him.

The other was a party my best friend and I threw. It was a sleepover with a luau theme. We were mini Martha Stewarts without the douchebaggery and put a lot of thought into that party. While we decorated with homemade lei streamers, we played “I Saw the Sign” over and over. That was an epic event, even if I DID get in trouble for someone throwing Jell-o jigglers onto the freshly painted ceiling to see if they would stick.

Spoiler alert: They did.

Anyway, wicked awesome 90’s tunes + smile-inducing memories = a good way to wake up!

I had a good weekend, too. Mother Nature decided to give our little hamlet an excellent round of weather. Now, I’ve lived in NH long enough to know that when you get a few bee-u-teeful days in a row at the end of September, it’s usually a pre-apology for things to come. Indeed, a quick check in with the old farmers at the almanac let me know that it’s supposed to be a bitter and long winter. Mother Nature is bribing us. I’ll take it, though. It was in the 80’s. And sunny. And the leaves have really begun to turn. And there were pickles.

“…pickles?”

Yes! This weekend was our town’s annual Pickle Festival!

052

Relax, that’s just a kitschy banner, not a call-to-arms for the next supremacy movement.

Why pickles, you ask? Why not? We’ve got to celebrate something, right? The large town to the north has a pumpkin festival. I don’t care for that. It’s a huge waste of a highly nutritious, inexpensive food source and…

“Bethie! Stop. Do NOT disparage the Pumpkin Festival.”

*sigh* Fine. I won’t say what’s clearly obvious just because you like literally burning thousands upon thousands of pounds of food in what has got to be one of the worst examples of First World entitlement in the area that I can…

“WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU WOMAN?!”

Oh. Sorry. I didn’t notice the Pumpkin Fest tee-shirt you’re wearing. Or the pumpkin shaped novelty cup in your hand. Or the bracelet of souvenir charms from every single Pumpkin Fest. My bad.

Forget the pumpkins. Pickles are where it’s at anyway. What, exactly, is a Pickle Festival? It’s a chance to have a parade, eat free pickles donated by the Kiwanis club, listen to local bands, pig out on some carnival food, buy locally produced jewelry in the craft sale area, watch cows take a shit for charity… You know, same old that any “fest” would offer.

“Uh, could we back the truck up a sec?”

The cow thing, right? Yeah, a lot of people wonder about that. It’s called a Cow Flop (or Cow Plop…the two are interchangeable). What they do is section off a field into grids, usually with 100-1000 squares, depending on the fund-raising goal. Each square is numbered, and the numbers are put on tickets. The tickets are then sold, usually for like $5 a pop.

Next, a cow is placed in the makeshift pen. And then people wait for nature to take it’s course. Whoever has the ticket with the number that corresponds with the shat upon square gets a portion of the ticket sales.

“People get paid for a cow taking a dump?”

Yes, but for charity, so it’s cool.

“What happens if the cow doesn’t need to go?”

A cow ALWAYS needs to go. You install a cow into a field and you’re pretty much guaranteed a show within an hour or so. And part of the fun is watching the cow and waiting. It’s the same thrill you get from watching a roulette wheel spin or waiting for the blond in the glittery dress to announce the next lotto number, and people get disappointed if the cow lets loose as soon as it gets off the trailer.

“But what if it falls on more than one square?”

Then they split the prize.

“But…”

Honey, you’re putting way too much thought into this. A cow shits, people cheer, the charity gets money and the holder of the Golden Ticket gets to call all his or her pals and say they’re a winner. That’s it. It’s really not complicated.

You’ve got to admit, there are far worse ways to make money. This one’s virtually free to put on. There’s always a farmer around who’s willing to loan you a poopy cow for awhile. The only real cost is buying a roll of ticket blanks. Sure, we could have something more upscale, like the Met Gala. If we do that, though, we risk a Kardashian showing up. NO ONE wants that.

Anyway, there ya go. The next time you’re at a dinner party and someone mentions a Cow Flop, you don’t have to pretend you know what they’re talking about anymore. You’re welcome.

It was packed this year, too, and the festivities went on longer than usual. Normally the event wraps up at 4 pm, but the crowds tend to die down well before then. Not this year. I don’t know if people were just in a pickly mood, or if they didn’t want to stop wandering around on such a gorgeous day, but when I went through downtown at 3:30 to go to the store, it was still fairly busy and didn’t look ready to close.

I can’t tell you how good that is for a town our size. Any fest brings benefits to the community. If it didn’t, then the planners wouldn’t put up with the five alarm migraines they get from having to coordinate such a large event. However, I think if a small town like ours can put on such a successful event, the benefits to us are greater than if we were a large town. We don’t have an abundance of small businesses here. We don’t have a weekly draw, like a flea market or farmer’s market or any other kind of market, or any centers for concerts or sporting events. We’re just a regular old small NH town.

I saw a family getting out of a car with a Connecticut license plate. They had Pickle Fest tee-shirts on that they bought last year. We had out-of-state repeaters, and that’s exactly what we need. It’s all fine and dandy if the locals spend a few bucks on cotton candy. It’s much more valuable to the financial welfare of the community if we suck the dollars from tourists.

The parade was great fun, too. Er, for the most part. For some reason there was a float of very sad lumberjacks. And by that, I don’t mean, “Holy smokes, what a sad attempt to be lumberjacks.” I mean, they were lumberjacks who looked seconds away from openly weeping. They were lumberjacks but they were NOT okay.

A small town parade is something everyone should see at least once in their life. You really get a feel for the town by what slowly drives past. The leader of the parade was a classic car with the emcee of the event, Mr. Pickle (I can’t make that up) standing up and waving to the crowd from inside. There were band floats, two of them. After that, there were the sad lumberjacks, the happy Red Hat ladies, the content preschoolers all dressed up like bumble bees. Firetrucks, ambulances, and rescue vehicles, all competing with their sirens. A hovercraft.

YES hovercraft! I did not even know we had such a thing. It’s a rescue hovercraft for our fire department. Someone at the local FD found craigslist!

I mentioned the two band floats. In years past, we’ve only had one, a band from a different small town that has some notoriety in the area. However, we now have our own local town band! Two band floats, of two different small town bands. Why didn’t they tell the other band to get lost and pound sand? I think they were going for an edge, personally. High drama lends a bit of excitement to the event. Anything could have happened between such volatile groups. Flute keys are sharp as hell, and just look at a clarinet and tell me it’s not shaped perfectly to shove up…

The parade coordinator spaced the floats just far enough apart so you could almost tell what each band was playing. I think they should have played the same song at the same time, but that’s asking a whole lot from rivals. Perhaps that’s why the lumberjacks were depressed. They were stuck in a war they could not win and wanted no part of. I guess I’d be sad if I had Sousa in one ear and Fillmore in the other for an hour straight.

*band geek fist bump*

Tractors. Of course we had tractors. No small town parade is complete without some shiny or old, or shiny AND old tractors. One of the tractor drivers got into a little race with a mini car. That livened up the crowd! Candy was thrown to the delight of the kids (and one pushy woman in her 40’s that nearly bowled over the small children for a Tootsie Roll. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) and the parade was a success.

We got out of there once the parade was done. We had arrived early enough to walk around the event before the depressed lumberjacks had a chance to bring us down. Besides, the crowd was ten times worse after the parade, and, being local, we knew to plan for an early day. All in all, it was a fantastic event.

There was talk around town of canceling the Pickle Fest. It’s costly, the logistics send people into spasms of self doubt huddled in fetal positions in the corners of the town hall, certain residents don’t like the traffic and noise… I sincerely hope that this year’s success proves to the naysayers that this really IS a worthwhile thing for our town. I like to see us go forward, not back. We have a fest. We should hold onto it. I can tell you without a doubt that it’s better than anything our town did when I was a kid.

Progress in the form of pickles. I like that.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Monday, September 29, 2014. I’m going to be writing today as I munch on a jar of leftover progress…after I go to YouTube and listen to some Ace of Base again. Once is never enough…

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