Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trip 7: Newberry Watermelon Festival

State parks visited: 7

Rob and I were talking recently about our goal to visit the state parks. We were trying to figure out what we would do if Chris was unable to come along for a particular trip. Would we still go? Would we wait until he could make it? Chris has become such a constant fixture on our weekend jaunts that I have a hard time mentioning trips without bringing him into it. And I'm okay with that, honestly. He is, to me, a member of the family.

So when this past weekend rolled around and both Chris and Rob had to work, what were Olivia and I to do? Hit a state park? No! Instead, we drove to the city of Newberry...just a couple of miles down the road from Dudley Farm, our last trip...for the 65th Annual Newberry Watermelon Festival!!

Our trip to the festival, which was held at an equestrian center, was leisurely.  We took our time getting ready and driving there.  The weather was hot, but not unbearable.  It should have been a great day.  Don't get me wrong, because Olivia and I really did enjoy ourselves and our Girls' Day Out.  But...well, The Boys weren't there.  I guess I should explain this funny little tidbit:  When we took that first camping trip that started this whole thing off, nobody slept well the first night.  Especially Olivia.  At one point I looked over at her, seemingly asleep in her little Tinker Bell sleeping bag.  All of a sudden she sat up, looked around, and crawled out of the sleeping bag and over to me. "Mommy," she asked, "where are the boys?"

I could only assume she meant Daddy and Chris, so I told her Daddy was asleep next to me and Chris was asleep in his tent.  That seemed to satisfy her, because she crawled back across the tent, down into her sleeping bag, and passed out the rest of the night. Rob and Chris have been The Boys ever since.

So, The Boys weren't with us in Newberry.  I felt the heavy weight of responsibility for making sure Olivia had a good time at the festival. I had some seriously high expectations for the festival, too, since Olivia and I drove two hours to get there.  Our solo journey had to be worth it! 

So, we paid our parking and entered the otherwise free event.  I quickly spotted the table where they were serving all the watermelon you could eat.  We each grabbed a piece and started munching. I had a good laugh when I hunched over to keep the juices from dribbling down my shirt, only to realize everyone else around me was in the same position.

After enjoying our first couple slices of watermelon, we wandered around and got a feel for the place.  Off to the left side was a carnival.  Off to the right were food vendors (and let me tell you, they had some serious eats going on!).  Beyond the food vendors were community information booths and people selling goods ranging from cowboy hats to candles.

We tried on hats, smelled candles, picked up pamphlets, all of it.  It took us a whopping ten minutes.  After that we went back and picked up another couple of watermelon slices.  And that's when it hit me....where was the watermelon?  I mean, not the one table where they were slicing and serving it.  I mean, where was the theme?  Where were the people dressed up like giant watermelons?  Where were all the great contests that go along with such a wonderful fruit?!?  Where was the noise?  And why did I only find one...count it....ONE sign proclaiming the day??

I should have asked where the watermelon festival was.  'Cause this wasn't it.

Don't get me was a festival.  It was fun.  We ate the watermelon, we played, we shopped.  We just...missed the watermelon.  Does that make sense?  It was as disjointed a watermelon festival as one could possibly be.

So, I mentioned that this was an equestrian center.  I realized there were quite a few bulls inside the livestock arena, and so we wandered in there.  Ah, that's where the contests were, emceed from the back of a flatbed truck at the end of the corral.  We missed the seed spitting, but were able to hear the hog calling and see the watermelon pushing.  During our wandering I played with my new camera.  I took some cute photos using various shading:

That last picture is one of my favorites.  It speaks to me of Olivia's comfort, no matter the situation.  She is at ease, and I love that.

This was also around the time she inquired as to the 'pink things' hanging down on the back end of the bulls.  "Those," I told her, "are called testicles."  Upon further inquiry I simply explained to her that they are what makes a boy, a boy.  She was satisfied with that answer, which taught me a great lesson:  Be truthful, but go easy on the details.  There is time for those later.

So, that's about it.  We had a good time, but our Boys weren't with us.  We ate watermelon, but we didn't see much of it.  I hate to sound whiny about it, but I can honestly say I don't think we'll be returning to this festival.  Oh well, they can't all match the magnificence of the pie festival.

On a lighter note, I took a picture of Olivia that I'm particularly proud of:

I'm considering entering it into a photo contest held at our county fair later this year.

Furthermore, we saw royalty.  Yep, as we were leaving, I happened to notice a beautiful young lady wearing a crown.  Her sash declared her to be the reigning Watermelon Queen, though I didn't catch her name.  And so I stopped and asked if she would pose for a picture with Olivia, which she graciously did.  And from there she went and passed the crown along to the new queen.  It was a fitting end to the festival.

Just a note about upcoming events:  This weekend Olivia and I will be attending another Boy-less festival, the New Smyrna Beach Seaside (hot air) Balloon Fest.  We originally tried attending this fest in January, but it snowed that weekend.  While hot air balloons generally fare better in colder weather, it was also excessively windy, so they called the fest and rescheduled for May.  And next weekend, Memorial Day, all of us and then some will be enjoying a little thing I like calling Camp-ayak-o-rama 2010.  I won't divulge any more details right now.  Just that little teaser.  Enjoy!

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