Monday, August 21, 2006

summer gold

I have lived in Madison for twenty-seven years now – more than half my life – and I have never, until this year, experienced a corn festival.

Hey, Sun Prairie (a satellite village to the east of Madison) is hosting the Annual Corn Fest this week-end!
You want me to travel all that distance to eat corn? I can eat corn freshly yanked from the fields every Saturday market day – mere minutes from the loft.

Still, I’m tempted. All that corn.

I’m not the only one. Thousands, nay millions, no, maybe not millions, but lots show up on this most pleasant Sunday afternoon.

And you gotta know Sun Prairie to understand how smoothly it all functions.

There are the rides, of the traveling amusement park type (when did these fascinating roaming fairs come into being? Were they around when I was a kid? Maybe they just never made it to Manhattan where I hung out in my grade school years). Ferris wheels and tilt-a-whirls…

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But really, it’s mostly about corn. Many, many people come here for the corn eating thing. The steaming husks are loaded onto a conveyor belt...

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…for $5 you load up all the ears you can fit into a cardboard box, you shuck the damn hot ears, deft hands and awkward hands…

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…you hand over the whole batch to women whose practiced hands rub in the butter…

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…then, shake on the salt…

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…and find a spot to eat.

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Afterwards, you take your little kids to the booths and show off how good you are with the darts. You win ‘em a couple of prizes…

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thanks, Mom

… and you go home, full of kernels and butter, with a feeling of having lived a real Wisconsin kind of summer afternoon.