Because life is a series of edits

Who Says There’s No Such Thing as Small Town Culture?

In Family on September 23, 2007 at 7:29 pm

My parents, Roger and Charlotte, were honored as “friends of the Apple Festival” this weekend in my hometown of Griggsville, IL (population 1,258). As it’s been our tradition these past couple of years since being back in the Midwest, we made the trip home and took part in all the festivities, winning second in the apple-themed float division and consuming large amounts of fried food in the name of dinner. I also got to drive a neighbor’s Camaro Z28 with Mom and Dad in the back, as they served as grand marshals for the Magnificent Mile Parade on Saturday.

Honored Citizens

My sisters, Jamie and Jill, do most of the work coming up with our Dunham family float ideas (here was last year’s, which won first prize); we just kind of show up and provide extra children. This year’s theme was “An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away,” with all the grandchildren dressed as apples in Grandpa’s pillbox. Unfortunately, we only came away with second prize after another grandchild float with the theme “Rotten to the Core, Cousins Galore.”

Prescription Drugs

Though I tried to talk Megan into riding with me, she wanted to walk with the girls and their cousins in the float behind us to make sure their candy-throwing benefitted the kids along the street and not just themselves. The ladies had a great time riding and throwing, and Megan waved like the former Miss Owasso High School she truly is. Here was her view of the parade:


Friday night was the queen contest (complete with awkward dance choreography that all contestants had to attempt), and then the annual lip sync competition (whose performers would have given Britney Spears a run for her money in execution). Saturday was the kiddie parade in the morning (which we skipped), and the afternoon was the big parade from the city park to the uptown square (all of twenty minutes going three miles an hour).

Apple Festival Sign

Saturday night featured the regional country and western band (yes, both kinds), Mason County Line (who were actually okay, despite their attempts at humor), and finished with a hypnotist act that didn’t really “take” with half the people he tried to hypnotize (we left after the band finished up as it got late and the girls were wiped from some inflatable exercise).


Sunday morning was a community-wide outdoor church service with representation from all five churches in town (nice), but there weren’t too many folks who made it out from the respective congregations (sad). By lunch, everyone had had enough festivities for another year, so we headed back to the farm, had lunch with the cousins, and hit the road back to St. Louis.

Cousin Hug

The Apple Festival is a bit of a strange little celebration. There are no apples – anywhere. Years ago, two orchards outside of town kind of got the thing started, but they are no more. When I asked one of the guys who helped plan the festival about this, he said the only reason it’s still called the Apple Festival is because of the green and red neon sign (see band pic above) originally made back in the 1940’s when the thing got started.

Megan thought the weekend should be called the Corndog Festival; I suggested the Deep Fried Festival. We both agree there are worse things to call a small town celebration: for instance, Mt. Sterling (a small town twenty miles away) has its annual Testicle Festival every Father’s Day weekend. True story.

All in all, it was a beautiful weekend for a celebration, and being able to honor Mom and Dad along with the rest of the community was a privilege (as well as an education) for all of us.


  1. This was great! Just what I needed to start today so I’m glad that I found it.

  2. that’s really nice Craig, I’m glad I’ll always have a small town friend, even if you are living in the big city

  3. What wonderful memories . . . . Remember when you, Kurt, and others were in the lip sync contest?? As I recall you all did a Stryper song?? Good times . . . good times. :)

  4. I’m doing research on small town american and the possibility of them becoming obsolete, due to economics, improved highways, etc. Any ideas on where I can get more information. Enjoyed the blog.

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