Thursday, September 28, 2006


Grape Jamboree day started with an hour drive to G’s house where I was promptly fed waffles and sausages while the children got ready. A short drive later and we arrived at “The Commune” where I got to meet the rest of G’s family and 3 large dogs. Not much is cuter than a gangly adolescent German shepherd, let me tell you. And now I understand why G says “We don’t watch TV at night, we sit around and watch the 2-year-old.” She’s *hilarious.*

We barely made it over to the “grandstand” in time to throw my name into the hat for grape stomping. The DJ called the first contestant: a 6-year-old girl. “I could totally take her!” I tell G. The DJ called the second contestant: an 8-year-old boy. “I could take him, too!” I’m getting pumped. I don’t know what the prize is, but I’m pretty sure that it will be mine. The DJ called the third contestant: a 10-year-old girl. “Something is wrong here,” I say as I see him sifting through the slips of paper. He is purposely picking little kids. I am being discriminated against because of my age! I should have put down that I was 12, not 28. I could have passed, I just know it.

He calls the rest of the contestants (5 in all) and the stomping begins. The kids stand in a giant plastic bucket and stomp away. The fifth kid chickened out, and his 12-year-old brother volunteered to take his place. The judges were reluctant to have him do it (I’m guessing he was too old for their tastes), but he did get to compete. This kid was my favorite. He got so into it that he splattered grape on the first row of spectators, and on himself from head to toe. We didn’t stick around to see who won (based on applause) but I can assure you that I whooped it up for the 12-year-old as I ate my grape ice cream.

On the way back to The Commune we stopped for Chicken on a Stick (a.k.a. Heaven on a Stick). I’m not exactly sure what they baste the meat with, but it’s one of the best fair foods I’ve ever had. Rumor has it that it gets better later in the day as the baste congeals on the meat, but I was pretty impressed as it was.

We picked up the rest of G’s fam and headed out to watch the parade. Lots of floats handed out candy, some handed out Freezee Pops, balloons, and my personal favorite: Saltines and grape jelly with a flier that said “In a ‘jam?’ Call on Jesus.” My favorite float: Slovenian dancers – where they wore traditional garb, but not really. One kid was obviously a punk under/around his traditional garb with his died black hair, black fingernails and black Chuck Taylors. He was the most enthusiastic of the bunch.

After depositing the girls’ candy cache at The Commune we headed over to the craft area. Two of the girls got fairy crowns and the third got herself a put-it-in-water-and-it-grows snake. G bought me a grape bunch pin made of beads and pipe cleaners as a souvenir. We swung back through the food area for some freshly pressed grape juice from an ancient grape press – way better than anything you could buy in a store.

We stopped by G’s apartment to watch “Nanny McFee” and let the girls chill out a bit before dropping them off at their dad’s. G drove me through the closest covered bridge and then we headed back to the food booths. Our dinner consisted of “Bucket o’ Fries” and a bloomin’ onion. Greasy goodness. We were happy and miserable at the same time as we stuffed our faces and watched the crowd. We saw folks trapped in: the 70’s, the 80’s, the 90’s and dressed in the latest fashions. We saw cowboys, Goths, thugs, hipsters, preps, and hippies. My personal favorite: a braided mullet and a bolo tie. The creepiest: the evening’s musical entertainment. This girl is what those little JonBenet Ramsey’s grow up to be. She’s 12 and a “performer” who basically did co
vers of Top 40 hits, but it was actually more like karaoke. She wore a shimmery purple jumpsuit and shook her ass. People came in droves. We headed back to The Commune for canolis.

I received one of my favorite compliments from G:
“Kate’s not a pansy.”
And don’t you forget it.

Back at G’s apartment I watched her chug from her bottle of Pepto and then make grape jelly. Not being particularly savvy in the kitchen I was impressed at how easy (and cheap!) it is. After sitting around shooting the shit, it hit me how tired I really was. I also realized that all day I’d been consistently counting to 3 as I performed a head count on the girls while walking through the crowds. I hugged G goodbye and drove home, where I proceeded to collapse into bed with a smile on my face. Happy Grape Jamboree!


Post a Comment

<< Home