A Mountain Tradition

Every year our local town holds the Mountain Laurel Festival, and this year was the 50th anniversary. Traditionally there is a parade at ten in the morning, and then all the participants go wander around the various booths of home-made crafts and food. If it can be made, chances are you will find it at the Mountain Laurel Festival.

There are certain things about the parade to which we really look forward: the old tractors, the fire engines, the local high school marching band, the church floats with the volunteer handing out VBS fliers, and of course the horses at the end. (For the uninitiated, VBS stands for Vacation Bible School.)  This year the parade was unending  unbearable  longer than usual.The children, of course, look forward to the candy fest  parade. We met some of our home-school friends there.  Little Princess and her best buddy found each other.:

We missed the churches with the VBS fliers, and we endured  sat through what felt like every little league team in the county.  The local beauty pageant winners all have their own cars. I am not quite sure I understand the logic behind the beauty pageant–I mean, seriously, will Little Miss Infant Mountain Laurel and the runners-up in her court even remember the pageant or the parade? I seriously doubt it.   The local pet store was there—with their boa constrictors being marched right down  Main Street as they curled around the shoulders of their trusting handlers.  There were the usual tractors and fire engines–Lil’ Adventurer loves those!  There is always a representation from some of the veterans–and I like that they were there since it IS almost Memorial Day weekend and all.

The best float, though, was the 4-H float that Dee, Star Child and Gladys Mae helped build. (I am biased, and I know it.)  It was decked out with the shamrocks and posters depicting all the things offered by our local 4-H program.  Some of the 4-H kids marched in front of their float while others rode on it. I was too busy keeping Lil’ Adventurer and Little Princess out of the road that the 4-H float was upon us before I knew it.  I didn’t get any good shots of my own children, but here is a good one of some other 4-H kids and volunteers.

After the parade, the three older girls all went to help their writing and Spanish teacher, Miss Christy, at her booth. She is the Bow Fairy and runs the Bow Fairy Bowtique.  Star Child usually dresses up with face painted and wears wings while she runs around handing out coupons and fliers for the Bow Fairy.  This year was a little chaotic, so she settled for just running around with some bows in her hair handing out fliers.  Little Princess, Lil’ Adventurer and I went back to Miss Maggie’s house to divvy up their loot and to grab some water before heading to McDonalds for some cheap burgers for the hungry Bow Fairy crew. (Miss Maggie lives within rock-throwing distance from the best corner from which to watch the parade, and she always lets us park at her house.)  By the time we got down to the girls, they were nearing starvation and pounced upon the food with normal teen vigor. Their friend J was there, so he was the beneficiary of Mom’s forsight…no teen goes hungry on MY watch!

Little Princess and Lil’ Adventurer were antsy to go exploring, so we headed off to explore the square and see all the vendors displaying their wares.  We saw the usual things: wind chimes made of silverware, home-made baked goods and sweet confections of all kinds, wood carvers and toy makers, sellers of jewelry and home-crafted bath soaps.   Our neighbor, Miss Genell, who is teaching the older girls how to paint, was there trying to sell some of her paintings. She does lovely depictions of landscapes.

Eventually the little people were tired of looking–they wanted to go to the main attraction down in the park: the Carnival. Or as Lil’ Adventurer called it, The Circus.  We had watched big trucks invade the park for the past week as they got their equipment in and set up. Crews had poured a dirt path through the middle of the beautiful grassy area and covered that with straw to make a fairway of sorts.  Of course, all the rides looked rickety, and they wanted $2-4 for each one. I finally consented to letting Gladys Mae and Little Princess ride the giant jumpy thing–the one that looks like something upon which the people from Cirque de Soleil might practice. Lil’ Adventurer had his heart set on the bouncy houses–and it was actually the best deal out there: three bouncy houses and slides with unlimited bouncing and return visits (with the bracelet) for $5.  He was a happy boy!

Gladys Mae has the Dailey tongue–just like her Daddy–when she is concentrating on something!

We found some cotton candy and a funnel cake to share, and we sat in some shade provided by the tents of the local bank to eat them. We finished our bottled water that we had brought with us, and Gladys Mae refilled them at the water fountain. (Ugghh..city water!)  And then we headed up the hill back to the square. On the way up, we stopped at the zip line that had been sponsored by the High Angle Rescue team.  Gladys Mae was a little too big to ride it, but Little Princess and Lil’ Adventurer had a blast! It was by far the best $4 I spent all day!

Our next stop was some air conditioning. It was only 80 degrees outside–an exceptionally beautiful day, actually–but we had been walking and playing hard, and we needed a little break. We trooped into Woods Furniture, an establishment that has been around just a little longer than the Mountain Laurel Festival, and looked at recliners and couches. And while we were in there, we ran into none other than the Chik-fil-A cow!  Of course we had to have pictures. Gladys Mae abstained. Apparently there are some things too embarrassing to be seen doing with Mom.

We found some home-made ice cream at Grandma’s Real Homemade Ice Cream. Lil’ Adventurer promptly dropped half his cone on the ground. It was good ice cream, and it gave me a hankering to make some more ice cream at home soon.

I  spent the last hour sitting with Miss Christy and her husband Rob (who also happens to  be my very talented computer guy) selling bows to the last customers hanging around the booths. Dee was played out and was sitting contentedly reading a book. Star Child graciously took Lil’ Adventurer and Little Princess back down to the park for some more bouncing fun, and Gladys Mae went exploring down to the library and the Mauldin House gardens where other artisans and vendors were set-up.  By then I was whooped.  Star Child and the littles came back, and then she went on an ice-cream run across the square for Dee and Miss Christy.  Gladys Mae still had not returned, so we went looking for her. She ended up back at Miss Christy’s booth, so Miss Christy and Rob agreed to bring Gladys Mae back to us. By that time I knew I had just enough energy to get to the van at the top of town. We definitely got our exercise today!

The surprises didn’t stop when we got home, though. Curious George and the Handy Man stayed home today–the Handy Man had declared that his plans for today included NOT going anywhere near our hometown–and they stayed busy doing a lot of nothing in particular. The Handy Man did wash all the clothes in our (his and mine) basket, and of course he left them on the bed for me to fold. (Where they still are, if truth be told.) At least they are clean! The biggest surprise was the haircut the Handy Man gave Curious George. George’s sisters screamed when they saw him. (They have an affinity for the curly heads of their little brothers.)  At least George will be cooler now!  Really, he was thrilled–just not in this picture.  Lil’ Adventurer declared his desire for a hair cut, so now the buzz-cut brothers will be harder than ever to tell apart. It is how we keep people on their toes.

Today was a great day. I hope the memories will endure for a long time. I know the littles will remember their first zip-line ride! Tomorrow we have church followed by  Dee’s piano recital and reception. It will be another busy day. I will need a day to recover from our weekend!

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