Sunday, September 05, 2010

Art and Whine

Every Labor Day weekend our town hosts an Art & Wine Festival. It's huge. One of the largest in the Bay Area. And, oh joy!, it's about three blocks from where we live.

We celebrate this occasion by staying as far away as possible from downtown. We go without food because getting to the grocery store would be a nightmare. We plan our away trips with care as we know there will be no parking in front of our house when we get back. And even though we are three whole blocks from fun central, we get groups of loud drunk people walking in front of our house and freaking out the cats.

All the neighborhood feral cats have been hiding in the relative sanctuary of our back yard all weekend. It looks like a cat apocalypse out there. Bodies everywhere. (Peacefully sleeping, of course, not dead.) But at least a half dozen of them sprawled like the Battle of Gettysburg on the concrete, under the bushes, by the chairs. There are a few in the front yard, but the sidewalks are too full of people with too much wine in them and too little taste. People carrying handmade wicker bird cages and ugly ceramic flower pots. People wearing hand-painted baseball caps with dandelions on them. People eating funnel cakes and sporting farmer's tans.

Luckily it's over. It's only a two day event and tomorrow our street will go back to being relatively quiet. There will be far fewer people in an alcoholic stupor parking in our driveway. But the neighborhood cats will still be here. Just less freaked out.


Duke said...

I like people who say they love metro areas because of all the great activities. When you ask how many they attend, the answer is usually zero.

Pro sports teams seem like a good idea until you try to actually attend a game and find you'll need to take a shuttle bus 5 miles, stand in line for everything, pay out the nose, and have drunks puking on you. The fact is, all these heralded activities are so miserable few can stomach them.

We have a 9 day long street party here called "Riverbend". It is held during the hotest part of July. They block miles of public roads for 2 weeks, which means I couldn't get to work. The admission is around $30 plus additional fees for anything you'd want to do. Food and drink cost almost exactly 4 times normal. They bring in porta-potties for which people are lined up 15 or 20 deep to use. Can you imagine the aroma of 60 porta-potties in 110 degree July heat? I think the attendence averaged around 80,000 per day with the final day drawing 110,000 because it has fireworks. Riverbend has been held for about 30 years and those numbers are usual.

Only areas with a lot of people have special events but those crowds make the events unusable. So you have two choices. You can live in remote ares with very few people and nothing to do or in crowded areas where there are things to do but the crowds makes them impossible to attend.

Ain't it great?

The Calico Quilter said...

Even small towns aren't immune to this silliness. My hometown has a population of 2000 and the first week after Labor Day it holds a week long shindig set up down the middle of Main Street called "Septemberfest". It makes complete chaos of trying to get anywhere. My mom has an appointment at the hair salon tomorrow and she's wondering where in the world she will find a parking spot, if she can even make it across town to the salon. In the 1970's before Septemberfest was established this town sponsored a street carnival one week every July and blocked off the entire major street through the middle of town, where my father's business happened to be located. He owned a garage and gas station, so without street access to the gas pumps and service bay he had to just shut down for a week. All the other businesses on that street, such as the department store and drugstore, didn't suffer from the inability to drive to them since there was still some parking several blocks away and customers could walk in, so it didn't adversely affect anyone's bottom line but Dad. He even let the carnival people hook up to his water lines and footed the bill for their water usage during their stay. He never griped but it absolutely wasn't fair - nobody on the city council ever made any suggestions about accomodating his business so that he wouldn't lose money.