Picking flowers. Twirling in sun-dresses. Blowing bubbles. Chasing balloons. Passing out Jesus pamphlets. Ah, the festivities! How I do love them! I find the depictions of small towns like Mayberry and Stars Hollow to be not only humorous, but quite accurate. The best time to go out and revel in all that McDonough has to offer is during three very specific times of the year: Christmas when the shops in the square are decorated and lit up, during the spring time when the air is cool and the flowers are beginning to bloom, and during the summer time when all the events occur.
Saturday, May 16 was the glorious Geranium Festival. I go every year. Even if you are not an elderly man or woman, a soccer mom, a little kid, or a grandmother addicted to mom jeans, you can still enjoy everything that this festival has to offer. Booths are setup throughout the entire square, some stretching out into the roads–anything from arts and crafts to food.
Parking by the nearest t-ball field, Shanna and I made our way up to the square and noticed some of the early-risers retreating back to their vehicles with arms full of pointless possessions. Women, and their babies, performing a balancing act between whatever may be in their arms and the stroller they are attempting to push down the sidewalk. They carry anything from flowers–which I never understood due to its availability in any local Wal-Mart–to jams, and even handmade crafts like wind chimes and birdhouses. In a town where the cheesy, the trendy, the eccentric, and the classy clash on a regular basis, it is fun to watch this small town live up to its refutable reputation that many already have with them upon entering its city limits.
Though the clouds blanketed the sky and the rain trickled down ever so often, I still managed to accumulate a worse sunburn than I had already gotten from field day Friday at school. On one end of the square, there was a booth with free lemonade–and why they did not charge, I am unsure, they would have made a killing. Excited, I reached for some and a nice man commenting on my Canon Powershot handed me a pamphlet that read “A Love Story.” If only I had known the humor was already about to commence. Opening the pamphlet, I had to stifle a laugh before I was back in the center of the square. It was the story of Jesus and how I should be ashamed of my sins and go to church. (Thank you, lemonade man, for your words of wisdom. I shall go home and repent tonight. I already attend a church, but I love the Mrs. Kim enthusiasm! Really.) At least I was refreshed.
Turning corners there were people with their dogs–all small, all yapping at the wind–and little kids running around freely because people have clearly forgotten what it means to take care of their children. I found myself playing babysitter yet again Saturday as I picked up small children that had fallen and were crying, and picked up many bottles and toys that were thrown out of strollers while their mothers and grandmothers remained blissfully unaware as they gazed at the wooden coat hangers with the Little Mermaid illustrations. And my how time flies as you are doing all of this. Nearly an hour had gone by before the real excitement happened. On the corner where one church sits, a band setup and sang some songs of worship with their bass just a tad louder than the rest of the band making it sound like a one-man show from far away. And on the other end of the square was some band that was playing music right next to the bulk of the booths that had food. If you were hungry during that long day of walking, you would have not found much escape from the insanity.
Later on, a karaoke machine came out, and to my relief, found that no one actually volunteered to sing while I was around. But the host did find himself enough time to loosen his sweatpants, recline in his lawn chair and start humming obnoxiously into the microphone until someone stepped up to the plate. I was at least twelve feet away before the good lady did blow.
Through all the chaos and the wonderful smells of perfume, cigarette smoke, funnel cakes, and body odor, I found myself enjoying almost every minute of the Geranium Festival. (And yes I got funnel cake, and boiled peanuts that day.) I even managed to get a glimpse of some women from the Red Hat Society trotting through the square together, smiling and pointing at the precious butterfly-shaped stained glass decorations, and cutting up together. They were actually one of the cuter things I saw that day. It is nice to see older women with their friends doing something fun like putting on a lavish red and purple hat and going out on the town. My grandmother would never do that. But I bet it is a lot of fun.
It is a shame that I will be nearly three hours away from all of this excitement when I go to college. I plan on trying to come back as often as I can. No matter how big McDonough gets, this town just never changes. I guess you can thank the people that run our “historical society,” and other leaders for that. Though I find many reasons to laugh at others in town or just laugh at the corny events that happen during the summer, I would not want it any other way. This place in my home. I love my town.