Every year in the week before Labor Day, Millersport holds its annual Sweet Corn Festival. I understand that people in every town are proud of their local festival (or despises every mention of it because of the inconvenience and crowding and noise and trash caused by the festival), and there's something about a local festival that is essential Americana.
Last week we spent a lot of time at Lion's Park (the location of the festival). Wednesday was the parade (a good parade, which, in my opinion, is judged by how many marching bands participate) - and everyone follows the parade to the festival grounds. We walked around and greeted our friends, ate donuts, people-watched, and watched a tractor pull.
Thursday was my highlight of the Festival; it was the date of our church's second annual lunch for the concessionaires. We used to think of the ride/game workers as "carnies" but (thanks to a woman in our church) we now see the Durant Amusements workers as our "festival family." I mentioned this last year when we had our inaugural luncheon for them, but their workers blow away all stereotypes. Many (most?) are international college students from places like Russia, Ukraine, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and Macedonia. They are serious students, studying to be engineers, dentists, nurses, lawyers, and so forth. We enjoyed meeting them and hearing their stories and feeding them a home-cooked meal.
Thursday evening we took the boys to ride the rides. Jonathan had soccer practice, so I took him to the festival after practice, while Andrew and Tara went earlier. We ended up buying them wristbands so they could ride everything as much as they wanted. They had a blast. We saw many of our new friends, and since Thursday was the slower day, we had time to relax. One of the workers recognized us and insisted that we ride free on the Ferris Wheel - it was fantastic.
Friday Tara and the boys made cotton candy all morning, and Saturday was the 5K race. After the race, the family made more cotton candy (I showered first). We were back in the evening to help out in the MHS music boosters' booth (selling ice cream, cream puffs, and apple dumplings) - I brought the boys home and Tara stayed to help clean up.
I was thinking this about the festival: I saw a lot of parents I knew, especially parents whose kids are near our kids' age. Some of the kids were helping out and others were just hanging out. But they are there. Every year they will be, and when they get older, they will be working in the booths because they're already involved in the activities the community offers. Sure, every community (and I mean every community) has the complaint that there's "nothing to do" but some of us manage to find something to keep us busy... and we love it.
I think of the Sweet Corn Festival as the one time when everyone who has ever lived in Millersport comes back, and I think the connection that many people made while working in the various booths has something to do with that. Sure, it's hard work, tiring and hot. But it's one of those things that people look back on with fond memories.
And isn't that what makes Americana?