Thursday, July 28, 2011

Local Festivals

Posted to OGR on 02/20/2011

The weather around here is showing signs of change. Spring can’t be too far away. Warm weather harkens the beginning of festival season. Communities all over the country celebrate with local festivals during the spring and summer. Usually, these festivals celebrate some favorite food or crop. But mostly they are an excuse for folks to get outside and enjoy the good weather after a long winter indoors. As celebrations go, festivals are a fairly new pastime. Back in the day we had a few festivals, but the big draws were the circus and the county or state fairs. The rest of the big outdoor gatherings were baseball and football games and the occasional air show. Recognizing that there is something special about being in a crowd outdoors, festivals have spring up everywhere celebrating just about anything.

What are the festivals like where you live? Around here we have festivals for food; peaches, peanuts, chicken, okra, chit’lins, beer and crawfish. We also have festivals to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day but that is more about green beer than the Irish. There are international film and motorcycle festivals and festivals commemorating revolutionary and civil war battles. Fleet Week down in Charleston, the McEntire air show and the annual Fourth of July Torchlight Tattoo and fireworks show over at Fort Jackson are big events that draw large crowds to the military bases. Festivals celebrate our heritages; Greek, Italian, Polish, African American and Native American, just to name a few. The are some great music festivals for jazz, blues, rock and roll and beach music all within a few hours’ drive from here. Most of these festivals have beauty queens in tiaras, bands on stages and an occasional parade or two. Many of them draw politicians out shaking hands and kissing babies.

I believe that the proliferation of festivals in recent decades is driven by a natural sense of community that is attempting to balance out a sense of isolation that springs from greater dependence on technology and the “corporatizing” of our local media. There is nothing better for finding a sense of place than going down to the city park on a warm Saturday evening and picnicking with thousands of your neighbors while listening to local musicians fill the night with the soundtracks of our lives. Oh MY!

Copyright 2011 Rick Wrigley

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