I don't care what anyone says, how old you are, or how long you've been away. If you are a native Dwightite, Harvest Days has something fun for everyone. Crafts, a carnival, a variety of food from deep fried Oreos to onion blossoms as big as your head, parade, entertainment, and camaraderie up and down Main Street are the backdrop for my hometown's fall festival.
My Harvest Days experiences have certainly morphed over the years, and I have split them up into very specific divisions:
1. The Fart Spray Era: The Harvest Days of my youth, the one that caused hyperactivity in me and my entire peer group. The school week leading up to Harvest Days weekend at this age was near torture, intensifying with each passing day. The first sighting of a carnival ride was like witnessing the second coming of Christ - a strong visual and comparison I realize, but it was that big of a deal to an eight year old living in a town of less than 4,000. The opening ceremonies for our family was always watching the Saturday morning 5K at the end of driveway - sometimes with doughnuts, always cheering the loudest for Art & Don Bunting. Majority of time spent uptown involved the following activities: cruising the flea market for slap bracelets, sunglasses, and Bart Simpson "Crack Kills" t-shirts, running from boys carrying fart spray, and spending all my leftover allowance on candy at the Dime Store. Sidenote: I loved the Dime Store with unbridled passion and still to this day feel melancholy when I think that the youth of Dwight are unable to experience the glory of that store. I directly relate its absence to the gang problems and stabbings that have taken place in recent years.
2. The Quarter Machine Era: This era basically encompasses grades 7-10 and is so named because a great deal of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were spent cruising the carnival looking for boys. Any boys on the premises were usually uninterested however, mesmerized instead by the quarter machines taking all of their parent's hard earned money. Even the promise of doughnuts could not draw me out of bed to watch the racers running by our house at this age. Allowance money was spent on carnival rides, large glasses of caffeinated beverages, and pizza slices.
3. The Dark Era: Every resident born and raised in our little town goes through a turbulent time, typically somewhere between the ages of 15 and 20. It's one of those things were you feel like you need to be there, especially if returning home for the weekend after leaving for college, but you don't really want to be there because other than chatting with childhood friends there's really not much else for you. Crafts are something for your mother and her friends to get giddy over, certainly not something you'd ever be interested in. You're jealous of everyone old enough to drink (legally) in the hyped beer gardens. Children juvenile enough to spray foul smelling, overpriced gag toys annoy you. The parade is lame and entirely too long, serving only to make your arrival back on campus that much later. It's a very dark time.
4. The Return Era: Like the prodigal son, eventually you return and the glory of Harvest Days takes on a whole new meaning. Suddenly every single craft booth is filled with items that you must have for your newly purchased home. There's not enough time in the day to stop to talk to everyone you see. The food tastes better than ever. Most importantly, you are privy to admittance into the town bars. And you finally feel like you are home. Allowance money is spent on crafts of every shape & size and beer.
5. The "It's No Longer About Me" Era: Immediately after announcing your first pregnancy this era begins, and the defining quote is usually uttered by the soon-to-be-grandma: "I get to push the stroller at Harvest Days!". Nothing brings more joy to a woman who has raised a family in Dwight than to showcase her grandchildren as she pushes them through town during Harvest Days weekend. A night out on the town is not quite as appealing because the only thing worse than a Harvest Days hangover is waking up to a needy baby while nursing a Harvest Days hangover. After those children outgrow their strollers you spend your days carefully avoiding the carnival, searching for the cleanest porta-potty, finishing their half-eaten corndogs, and keeping them happy during a still very long parade. Allowance money is spent on ice cream, face painting, hair bows, and doll clothes. The biggest upside to this era? Watching the joy on your child's face as they live the glory that is Harvest Days.
As if yesterday didn't contain enough magic and fantastic, following a two hour detour for family fun at the house of Tru Stories and a Dairy Queen dinner we capped off an already amazing day with a visit to see the newest cousin on the block.
They have declared her a keeper, and just like Star my girls finished the day sleeping like babies.
Awesome - and exhausting - day from start to finish.