Summer in Indiana

Every year, the Indy contra dance group does a demonstration at the Indianapolis State Fair in an attempt to get new members.  The general consensus is that it has had a minimal impact on recruitment, but everyone has so much fun that it continues to be an annual event.  As a perk for dancing, I got a free ticket to the Fair.  I met up with Mom and Dad where we parked at the Deaf school.  I was hoping to drop in on my friends in the American Sign Language program, but they had apparently moved the classes to a different building.

I had only been to the Fair once before, and I’d forgotten how big it is (and hot, and dusty, and crowded).  We had the best time at the pioneer village; Mom and Dad were able to share some memories about How Things Were Back Then.  We enjoyed old-time music and various craft and machinery demonstrations.

By the time the contra dance started I was a hot, sweaty mess from walking around all day.  Then again, that’s how these people are used to seeing me, as I reach this state after two dances anyway.  Sure enough, few people from the crowd joined us, but just as predictably, we all had a great time dancing.  Had to find some way to work off all those deep-fried treats!

The next event was the Blues, Brews, and BBQ fest at Bean Blossom.  This is not to be confused with the annual Bluegrass Festival that happens every June.  Dad and I attended that on Father’s Day weekend while Mom counted her lucky stars that her dulcimer group had a performance commitment.

We wandered around and marveled at the number of contestants entering the BBQ contest—I had no idea that competitive barbecuing was such a hot thing.  Speaking of hot, Mom got a sample of ribs that she could really appreciate.  I kept encouraging her to investigate how to get involved as a judge—what could be better than getting paid to eat?  Our favorite contestant name:  Monty Pigthon and the Holy Grill.

But ribs weren’t the only free samples, as they were distributing some smokeless tobacco products to those users over 18 (yes, Mom had to show her ID to get some.  Interestingly, I did not have to show my ID to get a beer.)  It was around this time that Mom and I became aware that we were the only women there without tattoos.

We enjoyed the music, and several of the bands were quite entertaining.  But then there were those who apparently think an increase in volume makes up for a lack of talent.  I should point out that this is an outdoor festival, with us sitting some distance from the stage, to give you an idea of the scope of the problem.  We wandered around and looked at tie-dyed merchandise and cheesy flashing jewelry.

Labor Day weekend saw us heading up north to Carp Lake to visit Aunt Dorothy.  We upheld several traditions, including Friday night fish at Bob’s and shopping in Harbor Springs.  We also visited Charlevoix and were able to sit outside for lunch, watching the bridge open to let the boats pass through.  I enjoyed sleeping on the porch of the cottage, where I could watch the moon reflect off Paradise Lake.

Then time for the annual bridge walk, where half of the Mackinac Bridge is designated for foot traffic.  Dad drove us to St. Ignace, where we started the walk back, which took less time than driving over in the first place.  It was crowded, but the view was spectacular, especially as the fog lifted while we were on the Mighty Mac.  I have my official certificate as a memoir.  I also have a few souvenirs from eating ice cream at every meal in the form of snug waistbands.

It’s always nice when one person’s trash is another’s treasure—and so I eagerly accepted Mom’s plea to take her place in the annual Greenfield Spelling Bee.  Mom and Dad had hoped to surprise Tom Cone with my presence, but he was well aware beforehand that I was competing.  You just can’t have any secrets in Greenfield.

This was a fun community event, with much good-natured joking.  My team was solidly in the middle, and admitted that we had a much better time once we were out of the running.  The last two teams went back and forth so many times that finally Tom Cone had to break out the folder marked with a skull and crossbones.

The end of summer could be marked by the Lotus World Music & Arts Festival in Bloomington.  Mom and Dad and I started out in one of the parks for the daytime festivities, mostly geared toward kids, but I assured Mom that if the wanted to make a mask to wear in the parade they would let her.

We got to hear a band from West Africa, while Dad marveled at the number, and extent of, weird people.  “Do they all live in Bloomington, or commute in from somewhere else?”  I pointed out that these were just the folks who were out during the day.  After all, this is part of the spectacle of the festival.

As the festivities wound down in the park, there was a parade to the down area, where the evening events take place.  It was led by a New Orleans-style jazz band, but front and center were stilt walkers in fantastical costumes—one had a dragonfly costume, and the other appeared to be astride a horse.  They also had a companion without stilts who looked and acted like a bird, complete with chirping.

Unfortunately the Lotus magic wore off early this year, as the rain started and did not let up the whole evening.  This mean the bigger, longer, crazier parade that was to take place later got canceled.  We did get to see an amazing old-time band at an inside venue, and a gaggle of gypsies in a tent before the pervasive humidity and cooler temperatures encouraged us to cut the evening short.