Denis and I enjoy going to festivals. I don’t know why – we never really did it when we lived in NYC/NJ, but there’s something about the South – it’s what you do.
This year is no exception. Late in the summer we went to a small BBQ festival in nearby Clover, SC. It was so small we were done in about an hour. However, the BBQ was amazing. You paid a fee to go in, and then you could sample all the BBQ available. There were about 15-20 vendors selling the BBQ, and when we were done we were asked to vote on our favorite. The types of BBQ were varied – one was very peppery (I didn’t try that one), one was very garlicky (that’s the one Denis ended up voting for). There was a mustard-based BBQ (I didn’t try that one either) and more than a few vinegar and tomato based BBQs. In the end, the one I liked the most was not even a professional team. It was a guy who makes BBQ out of his backyard for fun. He signed up to participate in the festival on a whim. I told him needed to start a business and that I’ll be his first paying customer. As it was, I paid the festival promoter $10 for a container so I could bring home over three pounds of that guy’s BBQ. So. Yummy. I still have one precious container left in the freezer.
Then a couple weeks ago we hit up the Cleveland County Fair. I have fond memories of going to the CCF when I was in college and watching the pig races. My friend Danny would scream encouragement at the pigs like he was at NASCAR. This was a typical county fair – rides, games, vendors, pig races, cow shows, people with dubious tooth counts. It was glorious. While Denis and CootieGirl took a spin on the way-too-big ferris wheel, I took CootieBoy over to the Zipper. You know that ride. The whole ride spins but then the car you’re in spins too. It’s also known as the Vomit Comet. I hate that ride. I told CB I would not ride it. When Denis and CG finished on the ferris wheel we were still in line and I had CG ride with him. Obviously, he loved it and wanted to ride it again as soon as he got off. *hurl*
Then we took the kids to a balloon festival in Statesville, NC. Denis and the kids went to this last year (or was it two years ago?), but traffic was ridiculous so they didn’t really get to see anything. This time we left early with the plan to see them take off in the afternoon. Traffic was once again a bear, so we opted to use their shuttle parking lot. After a quick wait in line we were at the festival where we set up our chairs to watch the balloons. While waiting we took a lap around the festival looking at the booths – we ended up buying a really pretty handblown Christmas ornament, CootieBoy got to ride on a Gyroscope, and we enjoyed some good festival food. It ended up being too windy for the balloons to go airborne, but they did still blow up and do their glow spectacle. Here’s a brief video showing a balloon being blown up as well as an initial glow.
I was amazed by the fact that you could just go up and be only a couple yards away from the blowers as the filled the balloons. I don’t know that we’ll be going to the balloon festival again, but I’m glad I went at least once because it was a really fun day. The bands were all fantastic, the weather was gorgeous, and it was fun to see so many balloons on the field lighting up the night.
Yesterday, Denis and I hit up another BBQ festival – this time in Lexington, NC. My college roommate lives nearby and when talking to her and her husband about it a few weeks back, he expressed disdain and surprise that anyone would want to go to one of the largest BBQ festivals in the state. He griped about (among other things) the number of people with double strollers (*lol*) and the fact the BBQ just sits all day long. He volunteered to make some BBQ, let it sit out on his back deck for 10 hours and then give it to me as a simulation of the Lexington BBQ festival.
Denis and I decided to brave it and make an early day of it – we planned to arrive at the festival just as it was starting: 10:00 a.m. We ended up arriving around 10:30 a.m. and by 11:00 a.m. we realized we had wasted the hour drive. It was not a festival in which BBQ is celebrated and served. It was a festival that just happens to have a BBQ theme. We got to the BBQ tent and realized that there were no choices of BBQ vendor. You paid $12 and got two hamburger buns, some BBQ and some slaw. That’s it. That was the extent of the BBQ festival. It was NOTHING compared to the small festival in Clover which had multiple BBQ cookers offering their food. One fun thing was a performance by American Idol winner Caleb Johnson. I liked him and was happy he won.
Festivals all have the same typical food and crafts for sale. This time I saw a sign for a deep-fried something I had never seen before.
Yep. Deep fried BUTTER. Gotta love the South.
We’re done with festivals for the year. Now we move into holiday mode.