Strawberry dreams in the slow lane

We live one mile south of Podunk, U.S.A and I’m happy to report even small towns have parades. Ours is a grand, 20-minute event that kicks off the annual Strawberry Festival, benefiting the volunteer fire department (recruits always needed). While the men tune up their vintage John Deeres for two days of tractor-pulling bliss, every woman in a 10-mile radius grabs her paring knife and proceeds to the pavilion to ready the berries for homemade shortcakes.

Friday evening’s parade features fire trucks, ambulances, local politicians, 4-H groups, ball teams and the occasional pleasure horse patrol. No marching bands here, but there’s nothing like the shrieking and wailing of 11 various sirens to stir the soul. Free candy for all of course … no need to search for sharp objects or poisoned parts.

We spread blankets, candy bags in hand and feel quite privileged to sit on grandma’s front lawn, smack-dab in the center of it all. The processional concludes with the county sheriff’s deputy leading a second parade of disgruntled travelers, forced to idle on the state route for 30 minutes while we celebrate summer and life in the slow lane.

After the parade it’s festival food. Burgers and coney dogs, rootbeer or lemon cream soda, with fresh strawberry shortcake for dessert. There’s a dime toss for dishes and three balls for a dollar at the dunking machine. It’s impossible to pass up the bingo tent. Face painting. Fellowship. Firecrackers and silly string. Don’t forget the raffle for quilts, pies, hanging baskets and whatnots.

It’s an experience I adored as a youngster, despised as a teen, forgot as a collegiate and once again treasure as a mom. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Thank goodness!


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