Friday, July 17, 2015

'Ring, Ring the Banjo' (Stephen Foster, 1851) - part one

I’m at a music festival in Evart, Michigan. Thus, the post’s title, borrowed from American composer Stephen Foster.

The population of Evart’s about 1,700. Logging forests, on which early prosperity was based, still begin at town’s end.

Times were good for a hundred years or so … 

 … Main Street bustled and impressive houses were built.

Last year, I described in my Michigan blog how profitability petered out:

Evart, as so many small towns, lost jobs and people moved on. That’s not to say town and Central Michigan lack charm and interest.

Carriages are often seen as many farms roundabout are owned by Amish.

Representations of traditional quilts feature on some local barns.

Nearby Paris celebrates its own six metre (twenty foot) tower made by a 1980 high school welding class.

There are curious buildings to be examined, This onetime hotel with its ancient sign is in the town of Marion …

… a, to put it kindly, 'store' in Chase …

 … and some seriously quirky local architecture. Note top dog pillar.

Cemeteries are so often an education and delight. 

Ebenezer Partridge fought with Company I of the 67th Ohio Infantry in the U.S. Civil war. As was common, the regiment lost more to disease (151) than to combat (142).

Ebenezer shares Evart’s moody and beautifully maintained cemetery with those - using a now unfashionable word - whose Christian names were ‘Solomon’, ‘Hiram’, ’Able’, ‘Vearl' and ‘Orsemus'.

Some cemetery residents doubtless tried their luck in local streams, rivers and lakes. Nowadays, visiting fishermen can down a beer at Racks. Sign at top left explains.

This notice worried me until reassured that ‘Canadian Crawlers’ are not impoverished Canadian tourists with a seventy-six cent dollar, but worms used for bait.

And Evart’s economy is also boosted by a yearly musical barn-burner (figuratively speaking) with thousands of participants.

Here’s where I’m living during the festival. Thanks to friends Don & Jode hauling accommodation for me, I am ‘Tenting on the Old Campground’ (Walter Kittredge, 1864), well, actually the Evart fairground.

This is my unpopped-up popup. With awning, here it is now.

My 'tent', next to Don & Jode’s trailer, has a comfortable bed, running water and electricity. Showers and toilet are but thirty second stroll away in communal washrooms. 

In fact, my conditions are luxurious in comparison with some festival goers who dwell in what, on the fairground map, is disturbingly referred to as the ‘primitive camping area’. 

This has me so worried, I decide (early, when no frightening primitives are up) to check on the undoubtedly barbarous conditions.

However, it seems ‘primitive’ is relative term and that occupants do have access to facilities allowing for ablutions and even, I’m told, hot food.

I next explore the more upmarket neighbourhood.

I’ve become rather fond of the second trailer, a 1965 Fleetwood, owned by an interesting and affable chap, Luke …

… who poses for me in his University of Michigan t-shirt.

The Osceola County Fairground, home of the local football team, awaits the melodic hordes. More in my next post.