Everyone needs to experience small town living at some time in their lives. (Some people experience it all their lives!) And the annual celebration, whether a parade, a barbecue or festival is the epitome of what it's really like. During my stay in Colorado I was lucky enough to enjoy the entire weekend of small town fun and games during Eaton Days 2014. Although I haven't really experienced small town living anywhere else, my guess is that this could have been Anytown, USA. With so much happening, I couldn't do it all, but what I did fit in was huge fun.
The festivities began on Friday with a sidewalk art competition in front of the library. It started early as the temps were expected to reach high 90s by mid-day. Tiny tots were making their marks with wonderful attempts at "art," while down the sidewalk a little way, older kids and adults were creating elaborate, colorful designs. Parents and grandparents set up camp along the sidewalk, offering encouragement. Of course, the kids were excited about winning - gift certificates to MacDonalds! The parents not so much!
That evening, we got gussied up for the street dance! This was definitely a first for me and was happy to hear the music was to be country! and performed by Austin Wahlert, a native son made good in Nashville! And he was surprisingly good. Not having a partner along was no hindrance at all, to me or anyone else! We rocked and boogied to the music until late in the evening. Everyone danced; infants in parents arms, tweens and teens and to old-timers, many who made me feel quite young! (Note to self: dance more often!) It just felt so good! Shit-kickers were the preferred footwear and cowboy hats in all shapes and sizes dotted the dance area. And the beer stand, manned by Rotary members, did a booming business, even though everyone got carded! and had to wear a wrist band to prove it! Hmmm, did anyone even notice that I might just be a tad over drinking age? Ha!
Saturday dawned clear as a bell, perfect for the Big Parade! Eaton is a tiny town, (population 4,500 encompassing 1.9 square miles of mostly agricultural land) so when the parade happens, it's as if the whole town is either in the parade or lining the roads. Old folks had chairs set up and young kids sat on the sidewalk, keep their feet well clear of the traffic.
The police cars headed the parade, lights flashing and sirens whoop whooping. Then it was horses and old cars, veterans and kids, girl scouts and square dancers, and bringing up the rear, the whole Eaton fire department, sirens blaring! Quite a commotion! Here's a video I did to give you an idea of what fun it was!
We had worked up quite an appetite by lunchtime so headed back to the park for a $5 barbecue lunch! To put this in perspective: I try to eat organic and eat as few processed foods as possible. I recycle and use as few plastics and throwaway stuff as I can. So this whole setup was so far from my norm I felt like I was in another world when we went through the line for food. First came Styrofoam plates, a white bun with slabs of meat (which had cooked overnight in a special pit) cold baked beans, carrots and what could have been Gatorade. On the table were plastic bottles of barbecue sauce. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking this but I haven't eaten like that for eons! But looking around me at the wide assortment of people, this style of eating is apparently the norm. Different strokes...
A highlight of the weekend came after lunch. The Classic Car show! Such gorgeous old vehicles and so many proud owners. Of course there were the muscle cars, as well, which don't do much for me but oh, the oldies. I don't claim to know much about cars, but there are some designs and makes that live on and on. There was even a Studebaker Lark that was so similar to the one my Mum had when I was just little kid. We drooled over the cars (not literally) and wandered home to take a nap.
Then came fireworks! They were spectacular and we didn't have to go far to see them as they were set off from the high school grounds, just a couple of minutes from the house where I was staying. So we simply walk across the street and had front row seats.
And as if that wasn't enough fun, Dan and I (Susan [the other Susan] slept in) went to the Pancake Breakfast hosted by American Legion Post #26 in the Eaton Park, apparently a real tradition. Once again I was blown away, not so much by the food (also $5) but utensils and condiments. But I kept my mouth shut and enjoyed the sausage, eggs and pancakes and the copious coffee, repeatedly filled by the American Legion guys!
So this is really all about accepting where you are and enjoying it for all it's worth. Often places we travel to and events we experience don't fit with our lifestyles or beliefs. And I have to remind myself that variety is the spice of life and imagine how boring things would be if everywhere, everything and everybody was the same.
That was my Big Adventure in Anytown, USA.