Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Harvest Festival and Fair. The Arm Wrestling Championship. Ned and Moose Don't Play Fair.

Ned and Moose in the Heat of Battle

Highlights from the Harvest Festival and Fair

Cloverdale’s Harvest Festival and Fair was held last weekend. It was just as I remembered from last year. There were competitions, exhibitions, fun rides and food. Not just any food mind you. I’m talking festival food, the kind brought in by locals, cooked on the spot and served out of their caravans and tents. I spent most of Saturday and all day Sunday sampling the delicacies. I’ll keep you in rapt anticipation and save the tasty details of my tasting safari for later posts.

I know you’re all wondering if I won the tomatoes judging. That too can wait for another day. I’m not in the mood to expose my failures for all to see at the moment. As for my selection for winner of the special effects photography contest, my decision was the cup with the bug and helicopter above the rim. Storey Phelps was gracious in victory and invited all other finalists to lunch at Maxie’s tent where the best barbecued corn on the cob with sides of baked beans and watermelon was being served. My invitation came as an afterthought just as the contestants exited the pavilion hall. Storey wasn’t sure how the others would feel having the judge who denied them their victory sitting to lunch with them at the same table. I refused the invitation on principle but Storey insisted and the others nodded in forced agreement, feeling it was necessary to demonstrate good sportsmanship.
I can only say delicious so many times. I guiltily confess to three helpings and feel badly it cost Storey nearly all his winnings to keep me in barbecued corn. I insisted on leaving the tip hoping to relieve some of the bill’s sting.

After the judging I set out to watch some of the other competitions. At approximately one hop past 2 o’clock in the afternoon I heard a loudspeaker announcement that caught my attention.

"Attention Attention, this is Bud Sparkles your Festival announcer talking to you from the announcings tent besides Mrs. Landrow’s Carmel Apple Caravan. The arm wrestling final, junior division is about to get underway in the Shriner’s Circus Tent next to Big Crow’s Navajo Taco stand. Moose Flanders representing Cloverdale’s Middle School is challenged by Ned Phillips representing St. Bartholomew’s. Don’t miss this face off between public education and private. Don’t miss this battle of champions pitting a godless state educated boy against a young man with the might and power of the papacy behind him. The pressure is on these two boys to win for their schools and their faiths, or lack of it. The winner will also receive a gift certificate to Moss’ Wonderland Bakery on the High Street. One other thing. Stubby Morton, your buffalo burger is waiting at the Custer Last Stand Buffalo Burger and Chips tent. That is all...."

I didn’t want to miss the junior arm wrestling championship so I delayed my purchase of a fruit smoothie and made a bee line to the circus tent. The boys sat opposite each other outside the tent as the crowd gathered. Moose wore a white T-shirt with black sleeves. Ned wore something resembling orange. Moose stared without blinking at the overly distracted Ned, who I’m told suffers from severe ADD. Other boys from each school gathered behind them to offer support. The on lookers gathered on the opposite side. I noticed two cans of Red Bull under Moose’s chair. I wondered if that presented a problem - an unfair advantage. I got the judge’s attention and pointed under the chair. The judge nodded, telling me that he already knew. The shoulder shrug that followed indicated a lack of concern.

“Grasp!” the judge shouted. Ned, realizing he was at a disadvantage promptly gathered all the flem his forced coughing could produce and promptly discharged it into the palm of his wrestling hand.

The public school crowd cried foul. The judge shrugged his shoulders saying there was nothing in the official arm wrestling handbook about spitting into one’s hand before competition.

“Grasp!” The judge shouted again. Moose swallowed hard, put his elbow on the table and reached out to take the slimy hand offered by Ned. He nearly lost his lunch of four Nathan’s Chili Dogs and Peach Soda when he felt his palm slip around on the slimy loogie draining down Ned’s wrist and dripping onto the table.

“Moose, take out that Catholic #%$#.” Moose’s dad shouted from five feet away. Moose’s dad is a bit hard of hearing from working at the saw mill for the past twenty years. He refuses to wear a hearing aid, concerned about his appearance I’m told.

“Wrestle!” the judge shouted, once he checked for proper alignment of arms and wrists. The boys bore down on each other. Faces contoured. Teeth mashed against each other and chins were pulled back. Ned’s elbow lifted from the table for a brief moment, a clear violation of the rules. This picture was snapped just at that moment, proving the infraction. Unfortunately, the judge didn’t see it and, once again, was the target of a series of rude comments from the public school crowd.

Ned leaned into the job. Moose’s arm weakened. It looked as if the Catholics would win this once again this year. Just when it seemed Moose couldn’t keep his arm from hitting the table top something remarkable happened. Moose lifted one butt cheek and released one of the worst farts ever smelt in Cloverdale, at least those of us in attendance through so. The air turned green. The background boys pulled up their shirts to cover their noses. I quickly reached for my gum, unwrapped a stick of wintergreen and held it under my nose. Some ran from the scene gasping for air. Others took hold of each other for support. Two children vomited in a near by bush.

Ned took the nasal assault badly. His own lunch rose several inches up his throat. His head started spinning and his arm grew weak. Moose gave him a smile and through his dad a wink.

“What was that for?” I asked, leaning toward his dad.

“It was my idea to stuff those chili dogs down him at lunch. Moose doesn’t do chili very well, as you can smell.” his dad confided.

Just then the entire public school crowd cheered. Moose was victorious. Ned jumped from the table screaming foul and asked for the nearest toilet. Both of the boy’s supporters moved toward each other. Each camp calling what the other camp’s boy did as immoral. It seemed it would evolve into a fist fight. That was my clue to escape. I jumped a small hedge, found a pocket of fresh air, refilled my lungs and walked straight to the tent serving my favorite, pineapple fruit smoothies.

It was a good day. More to come later.


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