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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Word of the day: festival.

This town certainly knows how to host one. They close off the four main arteries going into the town square and fill them with artisans, vendors, food trucks, games, music and other goodness like kittens and bunnies and sometimes baby goats.

Today was the Main Street Festival. In the fall they have Pumpkinfest, and then at Christmas is Dickens. Those are the main ones, but they also have other festivals for the Fourth of July, and other things like the Bluegrass festival. If there is a thing to have a festival about, this town will have it.

It’s one of my favorite parts of living here, not least of all because they have some fantastic food trucks.

This morning, Ralph asked if I wanted to go. The conversation went a little something like this.

You want to go to the Main Street Festival?

:::shrug::: I don’t know, do you?

I don’t know.


I mean, we’ve been there before, so did we really need to put on clothes, on a Saturday, and leave the house? Did we really want to drive around in circles looking for parking? Would it be that interesting?

I decided it was worth it. Secretly, I was thinking about the wood fired pizza truck.

They make fantastic pizza, specifically one that has gobs of ricotta on top, plus arugula and pepperoni and a hot honey drizzle. It keeps me awake at night deep in fantasy.

We always try something old and something new when we go to the festivals. It’s nice to get something familiar and delicious but also fun to see what other possibilities exist.

There’s a hot dog truck called Smokey Dawggs that should be illegal. Last year Loveless CafĂ© had a truck, which was exciting until they ran out of biscuits before we got there, the one thing they’re most famous for.

We also tried a beverage truck and had what amounted to a ten dollar cup of water with a few strawberries mashed in the bottom. Not the finest culinary moment.

But the pizza truck.

We arrived at the festival just after noon and strolled around checking out the vendors and crafts and artwork. There were wood carvings and leather goods. Candied pecans and custom blended teas. There was coffee and clothing, bird houses made of recycled license plates and lamps made of reclaimed barn wood.

There was a whole truck of kittens for adoption, tiny ones that could fit in your palm that were being bottle-fed by their caretakers.

I almost went home with four of them.

If you really needed to, you could cuddle with some bunnies wearing little pink dresses.

There was a tribal dance going on with people wearing American Indian ensembles, stomping around to the beat of a giant bass drum in a way that made you half want to join them and half want to take a nap. It was colorful and impressive.

Rocky Top Revue shows up to every festival. It’s a dance troupe of adults and kids of all ages, doing tap and square dancing and other fun stuff. I remember watching this one kid dance solo during one of their shows, who couldn’t have been more than 11 or 12, and in the middle of a tap shuffle he slipped and crashed flat onto the stage.

I don’t know what was louder, the sound of his butt hitting the floor or the gasp from the audience. But this kid practically bounced, got back up and just kept going. You really have to admire someone like that.

They always have an interactive chalkboard at the festival with the words “I remember…” written at the top, and you can walk up and add your recollection. I get a kick out of reading them. They range from things you might expect, like “…when phones had cords”, to currently relevant things like “…when eggs were a dollar a dozen”, to things that make you wonder what the story is there, like “…when my friend was nice.” Clearly some kid was having a bad day.

We passed the board and swung by the bookstore where they always have local authors signing. Last year, Ralph walked up to one of the authors signing his books and said, “I only have one question. Why did you write this book?”

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

We chatted a bit, then we bought his book, then we stalked each other on Instagram for a while, then we agreed to grab a drink together and it turns out we have a lot in common with him and his wife. She is from New Jersey, too, and completely gets the whole “I know I sound like I have an attitude but I’m just from the east coast” thing.

We didn’t get to meet any new authors this year but we did see the pizza truck.

And I did get the slice with the gobs of ricotta on top.

As we were standing in the middle of the street, shoving pizza into our faces and ignoring the oil dripping down our elbows, Ralph made a confession.

I only came for the pizza truck.

I confessed back.

Me too.

Mission accomplished. We swung by one of our favorite bars for a cocktail then went home to take a nap. All that watching dancing had been exhausting.

Photo top: the best pizza we’ve ever found here, straight from a food truck. Bet you can tell which one was mine.
Photo bottom: a little bit of the dancing show.