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Its Apple Fest, and the show must go on

GAYS MILLS - This weekend was our favorite weekend of the year. Good Ol' Apple Festival of Gays Mills. 

For those who didn't make the trek, things were a bit different this year than usual. As you may have heard, the Kickapoo River had different plans for our little Apple Capital of Wisconsin and so although the village was well cleaned, the grounds were a bit saturated. This led to the moving of the arts and crafts show, as well as the carnival, up to the flea market. 

The flea market also saw some changes, as this year, for the first time ever, it was conducted by the Gays Mills Lions Club. 

Although smaller than usual, the carnival and arts and crafts folks offered a bit of an interesting variety. And as people walked off to their cars with their arms loaded down, it seemed that there was still plenty of treasure to go around.

My Grandpa Ray was of course in his usual spot on the corner of big building. He told me, when I commented on the size of this years flea market, "Terry's dad and I were at the very first flea market here. I paid $9 to set up and made $13 the whole weekend and said 'I'm NEVER coming back here.' Now look at me! Still here. Everyone will be back, it will be big again next year." 

In addition to keeping the history alive for the flea market, Grandpa also took to his guitar for his ‘Pickin' and Grinnin' Flood Relief 2018’ efforts. He played and sang for hours in the cold for three days. During which time, he was even accompanied by Thatcher on tambourine. Grandpa Ray was successful in raising north of $250 for flood victims in Soldiers Grove and Gays Mills. And, he happily handed the cash over to the Lions to distribute as needed. 

Thatcher, like his cousin Romeo before him, seemed fascinated by this concept of playing music and receiving monies. Romeo, two or three years ago, saw grandpa busking on the bench and getting quite the stack of dollars. So, he decided when he returned the next day he would bring his little orange guitar and play his original song ‘Taco Hurricane’ to make some money to spend at the carnival. Romeo was successful in his musical endeavors and took his show on the road. He continued to play and do yo-yo tricks throughout the weekend at his various family members flea market stands, earning dollars along the way. 

As for Thatcher, he earned a whole $5 from Grandpa Ray. Which he happily spent on a beanie baby chameleon and plastic horse and still had a couple of dollars left to throw in Grandpa’s bucket for flood relief. 

The weather for the parade was a staunch difference than what we are used to. Everyone was wrapped in blankets and wearing their winter coats for the affair. It was a far cry from the 90 degrees that we encountered last year. Nonetheless, a good time was certainly had by all. All of the usual suspects were there, along with a few new faces. Unable to indulge in J&J on Main's impressive looking Bloody Mary Bar, I decided to wander across the street and try out the delicacies offered by Son of a Butcher Catering, run by Randy Swiggum. The giant pork nachos didn’t disappoint and as I waddled down the street to grab a apple fritter to bring back to the boys, I had several people stop and gawk and ask "Where did you get those!?" 

This was the first time in years that I didn’t take photos at the parade. It was a fine choice because I actually got to see Thatcher indulge in the ritual of candy gathering. He had a fine spot next to friends with little competition and he was able to fill his Halloween candy bucket full. He was especially thrilled when the Free Clinic from Boscobel threw out toothbrushes, and he was successful in getting one in his absolute favorite color, “YELL-OH!” 

All in all, it was a weird year. We had a flood, things changed, and last minute decisions were made. But, like always, the show went on. Apples were enjoyed and the rain held off. All of our friends from Iowa and the surrounding towns came to say ‘Hi’ and visit our village and a good time was had by all. And of course, we are all, already looking forward to next year.