The Califon Carnival has ended. This event held the first week in July and sponsored by the local volunteer fire company is the official start of summer in our community.
It is five nights of food, rides, games of chance, and fireworks. It is the highlight of the Califon social calendar, which doesn’t say much for the Califon social calendar.
It is small by most standards encompassing a football field size lot with perhaps a dozen rides, an equal number of games, and a few concession stands.
And like most things Califon, it is journey to a simpler past. It is exactly like the fireman’s carnivals I used to attend as boy during the summers at our lake cottage. It hasn’t changed in the 32 years that I have been attending. They switch a few rides around, add some new features, but the core remains the same.
The kids love it. Kathie and I still go. Now that our children are grown and gone, our grand nieces and nephews are the main reason for our attendance. Our nieces begin asking us around Christmas if there will be a carnival this year.
They came again last week and a fine time was had by all. Faces were painted, cotton candy consumed, and enormous sums of money spent in pursuit of winning each child a cheap trinket.
When we got back home, we sat out in the bank parking lot next to our house and watched the fireworks. Eventhough, you can’t see the ground displays from there, we have an unobstructed view of the aerial works. Years ago, our neighbors down the lane used to carry the wicker sofa from their porch up to the lot and sit and sip their beers while taking in the show.
Many “townies” go every night just to feast on clams, burgers, and the best funnel cake anywhere, while sitting at a picnic table under the bright carnival lights.
We did as well when our kids were in their early, pre-driving, teens. The carnival is a big deal with this set who dress-up in their latest duds to strut and flirt among their peers. We, like many parents, would go, take a seat on a strategically placed bench, catch up on the latest news and gossip, and keep an eye on things.
Though the carnival is still a big deal, it was a bigger deal years ago. In the days before reality TV kept people glued to their sofas, they would come from miles around to attend.
Cars would fill the town. They would park everywhere with total impunity: in driveways, on lawns, where ever they could squeeze regardless if they blocked someone else. My neighbor, a large man who wore overalls, would discourage would-be parkers by sitting on his front porch with the light on, a baseball bat clearly visible on his lap.
One night a car carrying four outlanders pulled right into my other neighbor’s side yard without so much as a by-your-leave, locked up, and marched off to the carnival. Unfortunately, they failed to note that the neighbors septic had backed up into her yard in precisely that location.
Upon their return, the revelers’ car became stuck in what they took to be mere mud. Three of them got out to push and noticed that the substance splashing on their clothes was of a more pungent, organic nature. Cries of anguish and disgust filled the air as they freed their car and proceeded on their long and odiferous journey home.
Well, this is starting to sound too much like the “Prairie Home Companion”, so enough already.