“Are there any more peanut butter and banana cookies?” I asked, sitting in the backseat, looking out the window.
“Those cookies were all gone before we went to bed last night,” Mom answered, smiling. “How’s your head this morning, son?”
“Better, thanks,” I replied, still embarrassed from the incident that had occurred the day before at the Banana Festival.
“Helping others is never cause for embarrassment, Woody. Besides, you didn’t break anything,” Dad said, making me feel better. “You just knocked over several hundred bowls!” Dad added under his breath, making us all laugh. We were helping serve banana pudding to folks when a fly landed on my nose causing a sneeze. I sneezed in my elbow but my head hit the corner of the table. When I raised my hand to feel my head, I hit the bowls and knocked them over. Thankfully they were plastic and didn’t break, although they made a terrible sound. The only damage was to my head and my pride.
Still, it was a terrific day! We listened to live music, watched The Miss Banana Pageant, laughed at contestants chasing a greased pig and saw bananas baked, fried, and cooked in every way possible. Banana pudding, banana ice cream, even banana guacamole! We were sad when the day ended. We spent last night at a hotel in Fulton and were now traveling down the Purchase Parkway.
“Look at that sign, Chloe,” I said, pointing to an exit sign and giggling. “It says Fancy Farm. Can we go see the fancy farm, Dad?”
“It’s not a farm, son,” Dad answered, smiling through the rearview mirror. “It’s a small town known for the world’s largest picnic. The Fancy Farm Picnic occurs the first Saturday in August. Folks eat barbeque and desserts and listen to lots of politicians making speeches.”
As Dad talked, he glanced at the gas gauge. Several miles later he put his blinker on and took the exit for Benton, Kentucky. As we sat at a red light, we noticed the post office was to our right. A gentleman was putting up the flag.
“Look, Woody,” Chloe pointed. “That’s like Uncle Bill in My Town – except Uncle Bill is lowering the flag. This man’s raising the flag.”
“Why can’t you keep the flag up all the time?” I asked.
“It’s a custom to fly the flag from sunrise to sunset,” Mom explained. “It’s a sign of respect to take it down at night and during bad weather. Look at the flag below the American flag. What flag is it?” Mom asked.
“Our state flag?” I answered in the form of a question.
“Correct,” Mom confirmed.
“Who are the two men on the flag?” Chloe asked.
“One’s a pioneer representing Daniel Boone and the other is a stateman representing Henry Clay,” Dad answered. “In addition to the men, you see the state motto: United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”
“Are those yellow things on the flag flowers?” I asked.
“They’re goldenrods – our state flower,” Mom confirmed as we pulled into the gas station lot.
While Dad pumped gas, Mom, Chloe and I walked in to look around. There were lots of men sitting around a table drinking coffee.
“Hey there, fella! What happened to that ol’ noggin of yours?” a man wearing bib overalls asked.
“Had a little mishap at the Banana Festival in Fulton yesterday,” I answered.
“Sorry to hear that,” he answered. “Speaking of bananas, did you hear about the banana who went to the doctor?”
“No sir,” I answered.
“He didn’t peel well,” he replied, laughing at his joke. His buddies rolled their eyes.
“Seriously, if you like festivals, then you need to come back in about 6 months and go to Tater Day here in Benton. It’s one of the oldest continuous trade days in the United States.”
“Why do they call it Tater Day?” Chloe asked.
“Back in the spring of the late 1800’s, people started getting together to trade sweet potato slips to plant. Over the years it progressed and folks here in Marshall County started trading other plants, tools and even livestock.”
“My town has the Hot August Blues Festival at Kenlake,” another gentleman said. “That’s the festival to attend!”
“I live in Paducah and my town has Barbeque on the River,” a different man spoke, beaming with pride.
Before we knew it, the three men were having a friendly debate on which festival was the best. They barely heard us say goodbye. We had just buckled our seatbelts and were getting ready to pull out of the gas station when the man in the bib overalls knocked on our window.
“Hey, I just thought of something you folks might be interested in,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
Be sure to visit www.thewoodybooks.com for information on other festivals.