Strawberry Days forever
April E. Clark
I have never been so ready to celebrate the strawberry.
I like to say that about once a year.
This weekend is Glenwood’s annual festival of the summer, Strawberry Days, and I am already preparing my gustatory calyculi (fancy for taste buds) for the carnival delicacies and strawberries and ice cream. Summer festivals wouldn’t be the same without the food, after all.
Strawberry Days is no exception.
In my hometown back in Indiana, the Riley Festival is our version of Strawberry Days. Instead of the red-seeded fruit, though, we celebrate children’s poet James Whitcomb Riley. That’s because he was kind of a big deal. We are quite proud of JW Riley’s birthplace and his knack for capturing childhood with playful prose. In Greenfield, Ind., James Whitcomb Riley is like our Doc Holliday in Glenwood Springs.
Don’t mess with the “Hoosier Poet.”
I have many memories of the Riley Festival, including that one year I competed for Miss Riley Days and received fourth runner-up. I believe when translated, that means fifth place.
Not exactly a tiara winner.
Since I only competed once, my teenage drama queen dreams of being crowned Miss Riley Days never came to fruition. I did get a chance to wear my prom dress again. I’m sure my mom was happy to see that money well spent.
If memory serves me right, I think I drowned my sorrows in fried elephant ears and hot buttered corn on the cob. Technically, I didn’t make it into the court so my responsibilities were minimal. I never returned to the pageant circuit after that, but I do get a little sentimental when I see the Miss Strawberry Days contestants sashay down the runway.
There’s a fourth runner-up in all of us, ladies.
Most of my experiences at Strawberry Days have been less traumatic to my emotional growth. However, if there were to ever be a Ms. Strawberry Days — that’s for the single, aging queen contestant in all of us … with hopefully no age restrictions — I would sign up immediately. Ms. Strawberry Days’ contestant requirements would include having at least one failed dating relationship in the last two years. OK, make that three. An age-inappropriate evening gown competition — Spanx mandatory — would be featured. As would a tankini swimming suit competition. And a contest of talent that represents the last year of the woman’s life.
My interpretive dance on my daily Facebook activity would have the judges in tears.
Since the Ms. Strawberry Days pageant isn’t quite on the docket yet, I plan on doing my usual at the festival this year. That will include a strawberry mojito at the beer garden and a cheesesteak. I will also be seeking out fresh grilled corn and any other portable food that tastes better while walking.
That most certainly will include meat on a stick.
I usually don’t do the ride thing, but maybe I am in store for a bumper car ride or two. There’s nothing a woman loves more than the jarring sensation of bumper cars colliding when she’s had one-too-many lemon shake-ups in her afternoon. I would talk big and say I would ride that one contraption that has cages that flip upside down but I already know my stomach won’t be up for it. I hope there will be a chance to win those little mirrors with ’80s hair bands etched on them. Hopefully at least one booth will have those feathers I used to clip in my feathered hair when I was a kid before I knew what they were really used for.
I hear that look is coming back.
And I definitely can’t miss the Strawberry Days parade on Saturday. Mostly because I adore candy. But also because I like waving at people.
Especially when I’ve never met them.
There is a funk band playing Friday night of the festival so I won’t need to go hunt down a house party that will never have actually happened. One of my favorite Strawberry Days memories involves the legend of Rob Tramazzo’s (nonexistent) party. This is how I came to know Rob, who now lives in Florida, as I searched for his wild Strawberry Days house party that never really took place. But the talk of his party was all over town then.
And people will still be talking about it this weekend.
— April E. Clark is the 2013 Local’s Choice winner for Best Place to Buy an Appliance. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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