Apple Harvest 2007

Town and county fairs are a New England tradition, and Southington – a town in the Quinnipiac River Valley and known for its orchards and farms – holds a town event called the Apple Harvest Festival . It’s grown to a two-weekend event, and hosts the usual assortment of crafters, souvenir hawkers, baby-kissing politicians, and of course, an assortment of foods. Times being what they are, we seem to see fewer apple-related treats and more of the “deep-fried ice cream” or the “chicken-on-a-stick” genre. We don’t mind, though, because it’s all delicious. Diets take a back seat to deep-fried donuts, fritters, and of course, to the now-famous Friendship Lodge “Apple Wedgies.”

Hey, wait a minute… I wrote this last year!

The usual gang of overworked and underpaid craftsmen persons were on hand, starting with putting down the floor and putting up the tent on Wednesday evening, then setting up the grills on Thursday, and cooking up shaved steak on Friday, and (barely) waking up on Saturday morning to put in a full day of doing it for the rest of the weekend.

Being a Past Master, I was on hand in a purely supervisory capacity. More correctly, people were supervising me to make sure that I didn’t wander off or get in the way of people doing the heavy lifting. Very important to stay out of the way of those who do the real work.

Sales were a bit slower than last year, although several of the booths that regularly hit the fairs mentioned the same thing. Too many fairs and festivals get crammed into September and October, which makes a virtual competition out of drawing in the crowds for each weekend. Southington runs the festival for two weekends, which helps to mitigate the problem of several large and well-attended agricultural fairs that always occur at the same time. Nonetheless, by Sunday night we had gone through several hundred pounds of steak, and almost 500 tart, tasty Macintosh apples.

Sunday morning saw great weather, which meant that the Apple Harvest parade would proceed as per schedule. Last year, a morning downpour forced the parade to be postponed until the next weekend, which meant that few outfits could march, as some had commitments elsewhere. The parade always elicits groans from some of the marchers – it’s a short route, but waiting in the lineup for almost 2 hours to march for 30 minutes is frustrating, especially when you can smell the various aromas wafting from the food areas. But as usual, thousands mobbed the streets to watch and wave us on. More encouraging, some people even seemed to recognize us as “The Masons,” which is much better than in past years where I’ve heard people ask a neighbor “Who are those guys in the suits?”

Actually, every year is a fun, exciting time – a little bit the same, a little bit different. The rush of getting food out during hungry periods, the story-swapping during the lulls, the complaining during the evening cleanup are all part of the experience – corporate HR departments spent thousands of dollars for team-building exercises that aren’t nearly as much fun, nor do they leave you with the satisfaction of a job well done.

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