Saturday, May 05, 2007

Beef Fest

This weekend is the Allied Gardens Spring Fest. We have lived in Allied Gardens for two years now, and this is our third time at the fest. The first year, we had just moved in, and we had a leisurely stroll around the park, admired the greyhounds from Greyhound Rescue, snacked on some peanut chicken, and meandered in a way only a couple with no toddler in tow can.

Last year, we had been home from China only a few weeks, and everyone was still jet-lagged. The spring sunshine was like a slap in the face every time we made it outdoors before 6 p.m. (not very often) and I'm surprised we even noticed Spring Fest had come round again. I was at a baby shower that day (what else is new?) so I sent David and Jarrah (in her stroller) to watch the parade. David has many wonderful attributes, but a talent for recalling events in vivid detail is not one of them. I heard there was a parade, that it was interesting, and that it was long. That's all I remember. Of course, I also don't remember much these days.

This year, we learned that the fest had expanded to two days, a Friday night hoe-down with a band, and the usual Saturday parade and fair. To make up for last year, I suggested we go both times. Last night we ate a quick dinner after I taught Nia, and headed over on foot this time. Jarrah was excited about walking, and about going to the park "at nighttime," and she was especially excited because she knew it was "Beef Fest." The park is only a couple blocks away, and before we'd even rounded our corner, we heard the screams from the Tilt-a-Whirl. This year, the fest was going big.

Jarrah clutched our hands, but seemed very excited. We soon discovered that between the three of us, we'd brought 37 cents, so rides and snacks were out of the question. Jarrah has become such a thrill-seeking adventure pro, she took one look at the upside-down, shrieking teenagers on the Tilt-a-Whirl and said, "Tickets." I kid you not. The child is a ticket fiend, because tickets mean rides.

To distract her from our ticketless state, we headed over to the stage, where a band was knocking out some lively covers of the Beatles and Rolling Stones. We did a little dancing, and had an interesting moment when I spotted a little Chinese girl--probably about eight-years-old--and her obviously non-Chinese family. No doubt because of this, her eye alighted on Jarrah, then briefly on us, and I could read her lips saying "Mom! Look..." as she pointed in our direction. They had a conversation we couldn't hear over the music, and then Jarrah and I waved at them, but we didn't end up talking. I was intrigued by this little interlude, though, because I often give surreptitious looks to families that I suspect are "my people," and they often give them back, and often we do end up chatting. But this was the first time that one of the children in this scenario pointed out our connection first. Very interesting indeed--I wonder if Jarrah will do that, too.

Right then we ran smack into my friend Julie and a friend of hers, and since I hadn't seen her in ages, we had some catching up to do. That was fun because she hadn't met Jarrah before. After that, we headed home, as it was a certain person's bedtime, and because any longer and we would have started feeling sad that we had no money for ice cream.

Today we had an addition to our party--Hannah was visiting us while her mum and dad attended to other matters, and Jarrah couldn't wait to show off Beef Fest. We arrived just in time for a prime curb spot for parade-viewing, and it really may have been the most fun I've ever had at a parade. We started with an assortment of low-rider cars ("Car is dancing!" said Jarrah, as they bounced up and down) and worked our way through "floats" containing the principals of all the local schools, a gym whose members did jumping-jacks in formation, a crowd of little kids in martial arts whites performing kicks, Shriners in tiny cars, a bus blowing bubbles, and a clown shaking hands. Many of the aforementioned hurled handfuls of candy to the children, despite a desperate and heartily ignored woman running amok on the parade route, begging the vehicles to hold their fire due to last year's litter problem. Jarrah and Hannah are united in their yearning for the sweet stuff, and they both thought the parade was the best thing ever. I asked David if he thought the floats would throw me some beads if I flashed my boobies, and he said, "If they have beads." I decided not to chance it--one doesn't want to flash one's boobies without expectation of reward.

The rest of the day was a whirl of excitement. Jarrah and Hannah scaled an inflatable island (I had to forcibly shove them through some sort of log jam that they weren't able to climb over, but they clearly didn't mind the manhandling), moved on to the Dumbo ride ("Oh, that little girl is crying," I told Jarrah and Hannah as we waited for our turn. "But you girls aren't going to cry, are you?" Nope.) and a visit from the ice cream truck, an event with which Hannah has an evident familiarity. Before I even saw the truck, she'd dragged Jarrah down to the curb, ordered some sort of Dora the Explorer Exploding Gumball Extravaganza (I nixed that in favor of Big Sticks) and then dispatched her giant blue popsicle in three minutes flat. Jarrah lingered over hers, with the result of turning her clothes, hands and entire head bright blue, before we whisked it away amidst much anguished howling. Soon after, though, we made friends with the folks at our local independent coffee shack, where we purchased some juice ("You both have blue lips! Now that's something you don't see every day!") and then enjoyed some giant slices under the shady canopy ("Big pizza!" said Jarrah.) We capped off the afternoon with a ring toss (Hannah extended her turn by delicately retrieving each unsuccessfully tossed ring, and then trying again with the same one--eventually, she "won" about 14 prizes with this technique) and a last hurrah on what Jarrah called the "dragonfly" for some reason. We headed home hot, happy, sticky and blue. Two of us wore balloons on our wrists and clutched tall velvet daisies. Jarrah and Hannah had fun, too.

Breaking news! The phone rang while I was writing this. It was Beef Fest, calling to let us know that our three little raffle tickets (they came with the pizza) have won us some sort of big prize in absentia. I'm heading back over to pick that up now. Beef Fest just keeps on giving.

P.S. Our prize was a Spalding NBA basketball in "Adult Male" size. When I returned to the booth, they offered it to me, adding that I could have candles or shampoo instead "if you don't have a son." That decided it. I took the basketball. As I reached for it, a woman videotaped me accepting my prize, and another shook my hand and said "Congratulations." I think next you will be hearing of my nomination for Mayor of Beef Fest.

Look for me on a float at next year's parade.


Amy said...

Sounds like a delightful weekend. We would love a heads up next year when Spring Fest comes around. I have a feeling it will be right up M & Z's alley!

Anonymous said...

Even though I am a vegetarian, I am absolutley jealous of Beef Feast!

Glad about the basketball! Paul is determined to get Joy on a team someday!



Anonymous said...

LOVE the blue mouth!

But why is it called "Beef Fest"? Inquiring minds want to know!

Miss J

Cheri said...

Bring the basketball here! Ours is flat and the hoop is lonely.

What a fun day y'all had!

When Tom and Laura have an adventure, I've no doubt that he recalls every detail. It's the retelling that is like getting getting information strained through cheesecloth.

Jess & Yea Yea said...

Sounds like you guys had a ton of fun, sorry we missed it but there is always next year!

Anonymous said...

Joe and Maddie had fun up there, too! I think the main attraction was dancing to the band. He said it's greatly expanded from previous years, but was lacking in further details.:) Too bad they didn't run into you!

Anonymous said...

sounds terrif! but why is it called "Beef Fest"? I've read your whole entry closely twice and still can't see an answer.... lix

Synthia said...

So funny! I love Jarrah's blue face and Hannah's meaty leg in the pictures. Also enjoyed Hannah's approach to the ring toss--we didn't get that story from her! Thank you so much for taking her along for the joy ride! syn