Thursday, October 05, 2006


(News-Herald, October 5)By the end of today, the Applefestian onslaught will be under way once again. As I write this on Tuesday evening, is predicting perfect Applefest weather—a bunch of sunshine and temperatures around 60 degrees (warm enough for comfort, cool enough to discourage bees). That means at least fifty bajillion people will be descending upon us shortly.
This will be the cue for many Venangoland residents to run for cover. There may be a good niche market opportunity there—Two Mile Run Park-like Area could offer an anti-applefest where folks get to drink a cup of coffee and read the paper in complete peace and quiet.
I can appreciate their reluctance to dip their toes in the apple-saturated ocean. I am not a big fan of crowds, hubbub, and congestion. And to be honest, I don’t think I’ve bought a single tchotke or piece of “primitive” art or a doorknob hand-carved out of an abandoned barn in, well, ever.
Still, Applefest is kind of like a big box of chocolates.
It’s an opportunity for all sorts of pleasant surprises. If you’re driving, perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to find a convenient parking place (“convenient” defined for Applefest purposes as “within a mile of the court house”). It is a measure of the Marketing Power of Applefest that downtown churches and businesses can enjoy an Applefest windfall selling space. Just space.
The cherry nougat of Applefest chocolates (I love the cherry nougat) is human surprises. At Applefest you can find all manner of interesting human life forms. First, the tourists. For every Bubba who ever gawked at a real tall building in the big city, there’s some urban hick at Applefest betraying his reverse rube-ness (“Look, Martha! They have actual trees here, right in the town, and I do believe those leaves are changing colors. Right in town!!”) True, some of them can be a bit too clueless (What—they don’t have one-way signs or no parking zones in Pittsburgh?!), but they are kind of cute nonetheless.
The best of the human surprise elements, at least for natives, are the familiar faces. Applefest is the de facto Homecoming for Franklin. Not only do folks come back, but they bring friends along to show off the old homestead. My daughter plans to coax some folks here from Penn State; one former student once brought along most of the Case-Western swim team. I have never spent time at the fest without running into someone I haven’t seen in a while. It can be frustrating, because there’s rarely enough time for a long conversation, but it’s still nice to see folks. And as someone who’s settled here, it’s nice to know that they like the place well enough to show it off.
Of course, not everything in the box of chocolates is a pleasant surprise. I feel both admiration and irritation for those people who, no matter how large the crowd, can behave as if they are the only people in the room, on the sidewalk, or in the park.
When I win the lottery, I’m going to buy a giant dirigible and float it over Applefest. Any time someone stops in the middle of the walkway to just sort of chat, do their hair, or contemplate the meaning of life, I will drop a giant claw (like the ones in those win-a-stuffed-doll machines), grab up the offending pedestrian, and transport them over to the 11th Street playground to start over.
And of course Applefest is like a box of chocolates because both make you fat. Just follow these dietary principles and you should be fine.
- Food has fewer calories if you eat it standing up. Calories can then pass straight through your body into the ground. If you sit down, the calories get stuck at the bend—hence the tendency of fat to gather at the rearal region.
- Food has fewer calories if you eat it with your hands. Metal utensils actually draw free-roaming calories out of the air and inject it into the food. Plastic doesn’t attract quite as many calories, but bare hands are best.
- Snacks have fewer calories than actual meals. An entrĂ©e by itself is not a meal; it’s just a snack. If you eat a dessert but not right after a main course, it’s not dessert; it’s just a snack.
- When you break food into pieces, the calories run out of the open parts. Eat all the funnel cake you want.
Note: These principles will only help with Applefest weight gain by allowing you to stay in denial till Monday. Until then, enjoy the weekend, whether you come to Franklin or just stay home with your own box of chocolates.

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