Yankee Doodle Days! August 2, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society, Uncategorized.
Tags: Charlemont, Charlemont Fairgrounds, classic cars, country daycare, fireworks, friday, hula hooping, local heroes, Ox pull, pie eating contest, Yankee Doodle Days
Our little town has one stand-out summer event: Yankee Doodle Days, a Friday-through-Sunday extravaganza.
Now, “extravaganza” might conjure certain images for some people, and other images for, um, other people.
Those other people? Yeah, that’s us!
This celebration of rural life takes place at the Charlemont Fairgrounds, which has for the past decade been the scene of Herculean efforts by a small, dedicated group of local folks. After generations of neglect and decay, the fairgrounds is seeing a resurgence, with a functioning Exhibition Hall (which less discerning eyes might assume was an old barn,) a roofed pavilion with a stage and lots of picnic tables and a covered ox/horse draw pit with bleacher seating. There aren’t adequate words to thank the folks who put so much of their time and effort into this improbable but unstoppable resurrection.
Likewise, the planning and execution of this three days of fun takes a year of work, pulling participants together, raising money for contest prizes and expenses such as insurance…
You get the picture. I’m going to show you a good time which looks totally low-key and country, but it doesn’t just happen because a bunch of hicks show up. It happens because a lot of people work really hard to make it happen.
So, here we go!
Friday night’s Main Event is the fireworks display, which is saved for last. But setting it up starts a good bit earlier:
These folks have nerves of steel and a a gallows humor befitting self-proclaimed “pyros.”
But the fruits of their labors would be harvested after dark. Meanwhile, there were classic cars to judge, including hot rods:
…and less jazzed up models, like this old Studebaker:
The owner wasn’t around when I was, so I didn’t get the year, but I liked that blue job!
The evening’s events included the first rounds of the Ox-Draw:
…which I had never seen before. Call me a City-Boy, but I found it to be in some instances unjustifiably brutal; all of the drivers used thick nylon canes to “encourage” their team to pull, but some treated their teams with such viciousness, I found it hard to abide. I expect to try to get to a few more ox-draws before I draw my final conclusions, but I have a suspicion that there’s some serious abuse going on here in the name of “sport.”
The folks in the bleachers must have been veterans, as they seemed unphased by the sight, as did the little kids in the adjacent “daycare:”
In fact, they didn’t seem to be paying attention to the on-goings, but rather to be running their own little dairy farm.
There was activity on the main stage as well, including a DJ, a magician and, for the little children and their Daddies, hula-hooping:
That’s Shenandoah again. The girl gets around!
And of course, what would a country fair be without a pie-eating contest?
The adults were slow to line up, ’cause we’re all so proper out here you know. I tried to instigate a grudge match between the Fire Department ( a lot of big dudes) and the Police Department (a lot of other big dudes,) but the police seemed to be of the opinion that it was Conduct Unbecoming. We eventually got some takers:
The kids were a good deal more enthusiastic, with the younger teenagers diving right in, to the amazement of the littler kids:
This lad came in second, but had the First Place Face I wanted for the photo.
Eventually night fell, and as the clouds moved in to obscure the nearly full moon, a big American flag waved from the ladder of a fire truck:
…and the crowd gathered for the Big Show – Fireworks!
The valley rolled with the BOOMs of the big ones and the sizzles of the fancy ones:
The folks gathered gave up “Ooohs” and “Aaaahs” as the show went on, filling the sky with smoke and light and color:
I’ve got to figure out how to capture fireworks in the box; these shots are OK, but I was hoping for something a little more distinctive. Help me out if you know any cool tricks not involving a hat (yeah, I was using that one.)
With the fading of the Grand Finale, the audience bolted for the gate, and I was right there with them – I had two more days of this revelry to document!
(To Be Continued – it’s going on midnight, and I have a big day tomorrow.)