The first week of the Southington Apple Harvest Festival was a rousing success. A few of us had been down there for the initial set-up on Wednesday night, and again on Thursday to set up the equipment. Both nights saw us working until midnight, so it was probably a relief that on Friday – the night it opened – we ran out of prepared beef by 8 p.m. I had to take a few hours to attend a district meeting, and when I got back at 10, the cleanup was finished and everyone had gone home.
Friday night saw some traffic, mostly town folk looking to beat the Saturday crowds. Saturday in Connecticut was a beautiful day, and despite the several town fairs competing for attention, the Southington town green was mobbed with people.
Sunday morning saw some torrential downpours, and at 9:30 a.m. the annual parade was rescheduled for the next week. But the rain let up after 11:00, and by noon people were starting to mill around the various booths. By 2:00 p.m. the area was dry and the people started arriving, drawn, no doubt, by the aroma of our delicious over-stuffed sandwiches and our tasty apple treats.
Corporate types like to send their managers and Veeps off to white-water rafting, rock-climbing, and other team-building exercises, but that sometimes misses the point: most people enjoy doing things for a good cause, and when they work together in close quarters in tasks that actually mean something it adds a dimension that is not available in other venues. You may have some personal conflicts with Tom, Dick or Harry, but few things help to smooth those rough spots like having them lift that refrigerator off your back, or carry 400 pounds of beef over to your work area. Likewise, these events also provide an opportunity for people to showcase some previously unknown talent; the quiet guy in the corner may show a flair for organizing the kitchen, or for coming up with a different idea for doing something that you’ve done the same way for the last ten years.
And on top of that, certainly there’s nothing that brings people closer together than knowing which ones will stay around for the all-important clean-up duty… except, possibly, the hour after the clean-up is finished and you just hang around, gossiping and venting over a beer or a coffee, and basking in the glow of a job well done.
On Monday I sent this out to our brothers:
The Apple Harvest Festival is only half over, but I wanted to take the opportunity to thank each and every one of you that helped to make this into what is turning out to be another successful year.
Some of you came down for an afternoon or an evening. Some of us have been down there every night since Wednesday, setting up the tent floor, cleaning the grills, moving the equipment, peeling apples, mixing and cooking the beef for the sandwiches, manning the booth, grilling and stuffing the sandwiches, and just as importantly, helping with the cleanup each night. I want to say that I’m proud of each and every one of you.
According to the preliminary reports, we’re already past the break-even point, and next week should be all profit for us. The parade was rained out and rescheduled for next Sunday. Since next week is the big Craft Fair weekend, that means we can expect large crowds on both days. It’s critical that we have the manpower to keep the apple wedgies and Philly steak sandwiches flowing to the hungry mobs. I urge anyone who has the time to come down Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. Sunday evening will be important, too, because that’s when we will need help to dismantle the tent and put the equipment away.
The success of the festival, and indeed, of the lodge itself depends on all of us pulling together. This is the only real fundraiser that we have, so I can’t over-stress the importance of your participation. And for those of you who aren’t able to cook or clean, there’s always the moral support for those of us who are stuck in the booth or in the kitchen. Come on down, anyway, if only to say “hello” to brothers you haven’t seen in a while.
Over the last couple of years I’ve visited a good handful of lodges, and based on those visits I made a point to tell all of my brothers how fortunate I felt to be a member of Friendship Lodge. I hope that they come to realize for themselves how fortunate we all are.