Sunday, May 07, 2017

A weekend of favorites here, Derby, Jazzfest, Fair

Historically speaking, a usual weekend of personal favorites is coming to an end.  The significance of this weekend began in 1973, my first year living in Louisville on Kentucky Derby day, or should it be week.  That year was the year of Secretariat, and with friends visiting from Chicago we were on the infield.  At that time the infield was not remotely as crowded as it is now, and getting a spot near the rail was not difficult.  Of course, we only saw a brief major snapshot of the race being at ground level, but it was remarkable.

Remarkable too were a few parties that were attended during that week.  It has become a ritual to watch the race since that time, in person, on the infield when living there and once in the stands as a guest, and in 1982 or 1983 when K and I attended from New York as at the invitation of friends who had great seats.  Seated just below us was ZZ Top.  All dressed up in blazer, tie, and shades, I lost money on every race, every one!  My smile occasionally wilted.  Still, it was a fine day.

Another ritual of this weekend began in 1976, my first visit to a lightly attended event, at that time, called the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.  After hearing about the event from me, my parents began their many uninterrupted years of attending that event that they loved.  My return was not until 1981 after moving to New York and having enough money to return.  For more than half of the years between that time and 1999, I was there with my parents, plus K or children or Louisville friends or Danville friends or all of the above.  The last visit was 2008, the highlight of which was the completely revitalized and lively Frenchmen Street.

This year and last, the NOLA torch has passed to our younger daughter, a frequent traveler who is attracted to great events and attends with friends from Austin as they are within a reasonable driving distance.

The last significant event of this weekend for many years was the local SCA fair, an event to raise money for school programs.  It is by far the best event of the year in this town of 8,000.  A large school playground is visited by a traveling carnival with rides both for little children and daunting ones for all, activities, and those wonderful games that reward with sawdust stuffed animals. There are also local food tents, hot dog stands, ice cream trucks, a large tent with donated yard sale items including a large array of used books, and a bandstand for aspiring bands and singers among young people in the community.  Everyone was there.

From 1989 with children mostly, at times without, that was a place to be if not in New Orleans.  With almost juvenile enjoyment, the goal every time was to win one of the big stuffies, two were usually needed, at the basketball hoops that were too high and too small or at the softball basket toss which was eventually mastered.  At times the basketball shot was won easily, not too high and just over the front of the rim, and at other times far too many dollars were spent at the effort.  The last win was six years ago when younger daughter was still with us and I wanted to bring something back to the house for her, for old times sake whether she wanted it or not.

There were lines for two baskets which were about ten feet from each other.  It was clear to anyone watching and the vendor on my line that I was past my basketball prime.  After five or six shots were missed, most of which hit the rim or backboard but not in a way that was promising.  One last shot... it was too high and to the right but it hit the rim, caromed sideways, and swished through the adjacent basket.  The attendant laughed and handed me the big prize of my choice.  Game over.

This year the Derby was watched with interest on television, no bets possible.  Traffic around the SCA fair slowed a trip to the grocery store.  A photo sent from Jazzfest today by Alex was viewed with great interest.  But that's it.


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