Because life is a series of edits

September’s Third Weekend

In Family, Places, Thought on September 21, 2008 at 2:00 am

Apple Festival Sign
For as long as I can remember, my hometown of Griggsville, IL (population 1,300 and self-proclaimed “Purple Martin Capital of the Nation“), has always hosted its annual Apple Festival on the third weekend of September.

Put briefly for my more urban readers, the Apple Festival is a semi-epic celebration of small town life, complete with more small town culture than you can shake a stick at…and I’ve got proof.

We knew it was going to be a great weekend right off the bat when, just ten minutes before arrival in Griggsville, we saw this on the way:
Joyriding Jesus

Yep, that’s Jesus joyriding in the back of a camouflage-trimmed Hemi. Megan and I saw it, turned to each other as we drove by, and knew we would be turning around to get a picture (or two). Nothing says “Bless me, Lord, as I blow away this deer” like a concrete statue of the Savior in the back of a camo pick-up. Here’s a closer look:

Joyriding Jesus (Close Up)

Friday evening at the Apple Festival is always magical, with the dark of night and generally inadequate lighting covering a multitude of aesthetic sins. The stage – the same one used for the past 25 years – is decorated in some random theme that has nothing to do with apples or the region, and this year, the theme had something to do with the Wild West (as illustrated by the Looney Tunes cactus and floating horseshoe):

Nice Cactus

Still, my favorite decoration theme remains the elephant background from 2005:

And the Winner Is...the Elephant

But I digress. Friday finished up with some good, greasy eats and two hours of questionable parenting (“What, you want to run around by yourself on the square among hundreds of people you don’t know? Okay, as long as you’re in pairs.”). Halfway through the Miss Apple Festival pageant, we decided it was time to go and herded everyone up and headed for the farm for some shut-eye.

Morning came early. In honor of my sister, Jamie’s, birthday (on Apple Festival weekend, no less!), we had a wonderful breakfast that my mom, Char, fixed. The girls and their four cousins then played outside for most of the morning as the weather was beautiful. Later that morning, Megan and I went for a nice walk and listened to the corn grow before heading into town for lunch. From there, it was parade time.

Back in the day, I marched in the marching band eight years in this parade (from 5th grade to senior year). Previous to that, our family always entered a float and threw a whole lot of candy out to scrambling kids along the side of the road. In more recent years (that is, since moving back to the Midwest in 2005), we “floated” with our kids, but last year the family retired from “floating” and let our kids scramble for the sweets this time around. They enjoyed it, as evidenced below:

Candy Booty

Here’s Grandpa (center) carrying the American flag in the local Legion’s color guard:

Grandpa in Color Guard

Here’s Barney Fife’s police car from The Andy Griffith Show (don’t ask me why or how):

Shazam!

Here’s one of Griggsville’s three fire trucks (complete with softball team riding on top):

Griggsville Fire Truck

Here’s one of seven marching bands (favorite band tune of the day: “Don’t Need Nothin’ But a Good Time” by Poison; yeah, that covers well with horns):

Marching Band

Here’s a blow-up Officer Friendly (a person was inside making the arms wave):

Officer Friendly

Here’s the “Mohawk Farmer” (as dubbed by Megan):

Mohawk Farmer

Here’s one of only a few floats (this one in the “apple-themed” category) in the parade:

Going Bananas

Here’s Grandpa again, hamming it up for the grandkids and driving an old-time tractor (he had a quick turnaround from the color guard – notice the American Legion pants):

Grandpa Tractoring

And here are some horses to signify that the parade is officially coming to an end:

Parade Horses

After the parade, we walked up to the square and watched high school band members excitedly win donated seed corn caps and T-shirts thrown from the stage, while adults who entered the hourly raffle won things like free 64 oz. sodas from the local convenience store (a $2 value!) and rabies/distemper shots from the local veterinarian (for their pets, presumably).

At this point, Megan and I looked at each other and agreed we’d had our fill and were ready to head home. With John Mellencamp singing “Little Pink Houses” on the iPod and four little girls delirious from all they had experienced (or as likely, consumed), we made the trip back to St. Louis grateful to have once again made this rural getaway.

“Oh, but ain’t that America – you and me
Ain’t that America – something to see, baby
Ain’t that America – home of the free, yeah
Little pink houses for you and me”

Parade Route

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  1. This helps me understand you so much better.

  2. Looks like a great detox weekend away from STL. From one Fletch fan to another, your photo journal reminds me of Fletch’s photos from the run-in with the security dog…
    “. . . Look, here’s the dog that tried to bite me. Here’s the motel I stayed in. There’s my car. The dog tried to bite that too. There’s the Mormon Tabernacle. . . .”

  3. Renae, you have no idea how hard it was not to use those lines, but I thought they would be a wasted effort (after all, it’s all ball-bearings these days…AIIGH!). Forgive me for underestimating the love for Fletch among us.

  4. Last year I spent a month doing sports medicine in the midst of football season. For 4 weeks in a row, I went to the football games of a tiny local high school. Their band’s favorite song: Crank ‘dat solja boy – Superman. (I think that was the name.) You should hear that covered by horns.

  5. Thanks for sharing and posting the pics. It was good to see the ole place. Of all the places I’ve lived, when folks ask where home is . . . my heart says Griggsville. Many of my happiest memories are from those 6 years and the friends I made!! Thanks again.

  6. Charliam, mark your calendar for next year. I think we’re going to piggy-back the Class of ’89’s twentieth class reunion with Apple Festival weekend. More as I have it.

  7. That would be great. I think about the ole gang quite regularly. Thanks for the heads-up.

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