Friday, September 15, 2006

Fall Festivals [CCR]

As I drove to work this morning I admired the glowing red sun rising above the horizon looking forward to the remaining fall warmth it will bring before winter. My current residence in Ohio is my second round of living the Midwest since leaving home. In the Midwest you get to enjoy a lengthy spring and fall, but that doesn’t quite make up for February. Each year I trudge through the mountain of inevitable snow looking forward to the first inkling of spring. Everywhere I have lived I have enjoyed the local festivals and events and in Ohio they are especially prevalent in the fall.

We had a number of fall festivals to enjoy back home in Cherokee. Each fall the schools would either organize a Halloween Carnival or a Fall Festival. I can remember attending those festivals and enjoying the homemade games sponsored by each classroom. Of course the smaller children always enjoyed the fish pond and were always tingling with excitement as they opened their paper sack filled with goodies. I can easily remember both sides of the event, one holding the fishing cane with the hook and, as an older child, placing a bag of goodies on the waiting hook.

Mom graduated college as I finished fourth grade and when I entered fifth grade she began teaching at Barton Elementary. Mom’s work at Barton meant we attended and worked with many events at the community school. And one of the biggest events was the Halloween Carnival. I can still remember Jack Crowell standing on top of a chair and auctioning the various items people had donated to the festival. I don’t think anybody could have made a better auctioneer. My purchases included a box of floor tile that Dad would later install in our bathroom. He only recently replaced it with more modern tile. I also remember buying apple juice containers and even a stuffed tiger that hung around my apartment in college. The school also had the ever popular cake walk and many other traditional events. Today I pass where the school once stood and while I see a marvelous church on the grounds where the school once stood, I can still see Mom’s classroom and remember the events that were “standing room only.”

While I was in high school I traveled with my parents and grandparents to the festival at Meriwether Lewis Park in Hohenwald, Tennessee. That trip was my first experience of a larger traditional crafts festival and I can still hear the clunk, clunk, clunk of the single cylinder corn grinder. Almost any open fire can trigger my memory of the aroma. You could smell the various items cooking and the fires built to ward off the fall chill. After my first visit I made that trip an annual trek until I left home in 1987. Each year I marked the second weekend in October as my special weekend to visit the festival. The memory of the golden leaves along the Natchez Trace on my trip to the festival only add to the colorful imprint in my mind.

In the next few weeks I will be celebrating the last few weeks of warmth before winter grabs its clutches on our home here in Ohio. I always attend Galion’s Oktoberfest and you will find me seated promptly in front of the stage for the big band era listening to various Ohio groups play. I may be wrapped in a blanket with something warm to drink. My employer has given hints that I may soon relocate and one of the possible locations is in middle of Tennessee. There I will enjoy a milder winter and if I mourn the missing snow that moment will pass quickly. But no matter where I go I will seek out the local festivals and traditions that will trigger my memories of home.