I'm thinking and thinking and trying to remember if I've ever missed a Pumpkin Festival in my entire life. I'm pretty sure I haven't. Every year Gene sucks it up and accompanies me to a long evening of waiting in lines, eating pumpkin food and gathering free junk from the merchant's tent. We look at the decorated pumpkins and the giant pumpkins. Some years we look at the pumpkin displays in the shop windows. The kids go on rides and play one "can't lose" game to win a prize. This year Logan opted to play balloon darts and threw about 8 darts before he finally popped a balloon and won a tiny plush football. Kaylin won a tiny plush penguin with her lucky duck. The kids got pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin cookies. I had a pumpkin chili dog that (ahem) didn't agree with me.
This year Gene skipped the festival. He had to work late. My dad picked the kids up from school and got them to the festival right at opening. By the time I arrived, they only had a few ride tickets left and I watched them go on the Ferris wheel with Andy and then on the bumper cars. On to the food line, dinner and the Budweiser Clydesdales. The Clydesdales were pretty cool, but there were about 7 million gnats flying around while we waited for them to pass. My mom was right in front of me and it was pretty gross to see them crawling around in her hair. Sorry, Mom. They were too tiny and too numerous to remove. I'm sure they were all over my hair as well, but I couldn't see them :) We left around 7:30 and rushed home for showers and homework. And then homework the next morning and plenty of grumbling about being tired.
Is it worth it? I always wonder... But then the next year nostalgia consumes me and I do whatever it takes to go back. Back to the crowds, the lines, the bugs and the mediocre food I don't even really like. I usually don't really have fun and even wonder how much fun the kids actually have. They much prefer the HOI Fair with unlimited ride wristbands, many more rides and much shorter lines. We don't always go to the State Fair, but that's even better. I guess we'll keep going to the Pumpkin Festival until the kids beg me to stay home and I finally decide to not go by myself. Oh. Gene didn't miss it one bit and was thrilled to have the house to himself for the evening and watch his baseball game.
I went to the parade today for the first time in years. I've worked the past four years and haven't been able to get the day off. Last year I asked off 7 or 8 months in advance but requested the wrong Saturday. I was disappointed, but it turned out to be awful and rainy that day and I ended up going to Nashville to visit a friend the next weekend which was far more fun. It was great to watch my kids, nieces and nephew and cousins' kids scramble for candy and clap for the bands. It was really great to go back to Grandma's for her traditional BBQ lunch. That's definitely one of my favorite meals of the year. Mmmm, custard pie with peaches for dessert. Enough said.
Quick Simon story. Kaylin was sitting on the floor eating a Pixie Stick (those paper straws filled with sugar candy.) Simon. Freaked. Out. He was sooooo excited. His eyes got big, his tail twitched, he ran over and started climbing up Kaylin's chest trying to get to the candy. Kaylin wasn't paying attention and the massive cat knocked her backward into a laughing heap. She sat back up, gave Simon a pat and affectionately said "Oh Simon, you're such a dork! You fit in here perfectly." Yeah, I think Simon's here to stay. And I think he'll even be happy about it :)