Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall Festival Redux

  Last Sunday was the Fall Festival at St. Mary. Unlike the past 3 years, this year I wasn’t on the committee to help plan and while I missed hanging out with the other people on the committee, I’m pretty busy with work and my chess endeavors so it was nice not to have all the meetings, responsibilities, and worries over the weather, etc... I had volunteered to take money on the day of the festival like I had the past 2 years, but instead I was asked to take pictures of the Festival. It sounded like a plum job and I quickly agreed.

  Ben was finishing up his service hours for confirmation by working at the festival all day, so we drove the 6 blocks to the church at 9 in the morning to help set up. It was good to see people like Greg Konrad and Jack Kessler who helped set up for the Fall Festival each year when I was on the committee. Greg had succeeded me as a chairperson with my friend Peg Brown. Peg and I were original members of the Stewardship Committee and she was Matt’s confirmation sponsor. Peg also spent many years as the St. Mary business manager and is really good with a buck so I'm sure the festival made as much money as possible.

An empty gym at 9am turned into a packed house by 1pm.

  Unlike the last 3 years, it was raining on this festival day and that required a lot of changing plans. The games were moved into the school gym from outside. All the Hispanic food was being prepared under a tent but the customers would buy their food and take it to the gym to eat when the rain was more than a drizzle. We moved tables around and set up games and occasionally I would sneak away to take pictures of the progress of the pork loin meal being prepared in the church basement as well as the Hispanic food being cooked in the street. Then Ben and I were assigned the task of setting up the PA system for the afternoon live auction. We managed to find the speaker wire hanging behind a curtain and hook it up to the PA system. The Ben and another fellow hooked up the PA system to the wireless microphones and everything was A-OK. I took another break to take some more pictures and head to the Jiffy for a cup of coffee and get Ben a Sierra Mist with ice. When I got back to the church, I didn’t have my 2009 Yankee World Series Championship hat. I looked all over and didn’t find it, drove back to the Jiffy and didn’t find it, and went back to the gym and still didn’t find it and gave it up for lost.

  Around 11:30 the first wave of kids and parents started arriving to play the games and eat meals. I made my way around to the church basement for the pork meal, the street where the Hispanic food was being served, and the gym where the games were and took more pictures. It had stopped raining and I took a break and ate a fruit cup (watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumber) while I hung out with my friend Dennis outside the Hispanic food stand while he was eating his lunch. Dennis’ wife Tammy was on the committee all 3 years I was and Dennis would hang out a lot and help on the day of the event. Dennis works at the scrap metal yard and last year I had a case of temporary insanity and challenged him to an arm-wrestling contest. We started and he yawned for about 30 seconds while I managed to move his arm 2 or 3 inches before slamming my hand almost through the table in less than a nanosecond. He doesn’t play chess, but I bet I could beat him in a Cheetos-eating contest. Dennis was missing his favorite team, the Super Bowl champion Packers play the Carolina Panthers to hang out at the festival today and we would check the score occasionally on my amazing iPod. The Packers were losing at the half 13-7 and I told Dennis it was his duty as a Packer fan to hustle home and root his team on to victory. He left and the Packers did win 30-23 so if they end up making the playoffs by a game I’m expecting to be voted a playoff share for my contribution.

Pork Loin, potatoes, vegetables, and pie on the inside; Fruit cups, tortas, tacos, and other Hispanic food outside. But not a Cheeto in sight...

  I made another round of picture taking and helped put up a huge tent so the band could have a dry place to perform and then it was time for lunch. Last year, people would buy $1 food tickets and then pay for their food with them, but this year you bought a ticket saying what kind of food you wanted and then gave the ticket at the food stand. It was a great idea and I’m jealous I hadn’t thought of that. Not only does it keep the food preparers from having to add up food prices, but it also keeps the food line moving because everyone already knew what they wanted since they already had the tickets. I bought a $5 ticket for a torta which I can best describe as an Italian Hot Dog with steak instead of the hot dog part. I could watch people make food all day and had a full view of the cooks preparing my torta. When I lived in Florida, I used to eat at the Waffle House and I’d always sit at the counter and watch the people making eggs, waffles, and hash browns. I ’m so old I was a customer when the hash browns could only be scattered, smothered (with onions), and covered (with cheese); but now they can also be Chunked (Ham), Diced(Tomatoes), Peppered(Jalapeno), Capped(Mushrooms), Topped(Chilli), and Country(Sausage Gravy). You can see the menu here. I was born too soon!! My video was interrupted once when I had to stop and pay off a persistent raffle ticket salesman, but I did manage to get 2 minutes of Torta-making at its finest.

The only thing better than watching the torta being made was eating it!

  I sat down by the band and ate my torta (which was 5-star quality) and then took some more pictures. I got a video of the band playing a song and made my way back to the gym to shoot some videos of kids playing games and the live auction and raffle prize announcements. 2 years ago I won some Long John Silver gift certificates and a car wash, but this year was another wipeout. Once the auction was over, it was time to clean up. I took apart the PA system and when I put it back in its big wooden box, there was my Yankee hat! I must have put it in there when I was fumbling around with all the wires. I helped put some tables and chairs away and it was time to go.

The third eye doesn't lie! At the 25 second mark, a kid is going to swipe an extra bottle of soda at a ring toss game until he sees the glare of the camera.

  I’ve never gotten to walk around at the fall festival before. Every other year I was either taking money or hanging out with my kids at the games. I liked the freedom being the ‘official photographer’ afforded me and I hope the 4 CDs worth of pictures and video are useful. This year’s edition was a top-notch event despite the crummy weather and I hope all the planners are proud of their efforts.