Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Working at the Winchester Apple Blossom Festival


The teenager was clad in pure white cargo shorts, a white polo shirt and a logo-less, backwards white baseball cap. Behind the orange construction fence that he had climbed over, waiting their turn, were his companions: a grey-haired oldster sporting a red shirt and a little blue young'un who couldn't have been more than eight. I'm still not sure whether their flag ensemble was deliberate. The white guy, who had just climbed over the temporary barrier separating him from the festivities, glanced sideways in my direction and shuffled his feet indecisively. "I don't give a...", he mumbled at me, before swinging  one and then the other leg back over the fence and retreating down the hot black path. 

That was the highlight of Day One at the Apple Blossom Festival, an otherwise fairly unexciting eight hours spent watching the perimeter for would-be fence-jumpers. I got ferociously sunburned, heard some incredible stories from the security guards in our area (one was an ex-infantryman who had spent a year in Afghanistan and been shot in the leg and blown up, on different days), and otherwise did very little. Day Two, although it might sound mundane, was a hell of a lot more fun: I was assigned a parking lot, one of maybe a dozen FEMA Corps members to receive the privilege, and ran it for probably seven hours. (Those CMs who participated totaled 19 ISP hours for the weekend.) A man in his seventies with a huge potbelly and a Hawaiian shirt, on a motor scooter and smoking a cigar the size of my foot, rolled through Parking Lot #3 during the day; later on, a brigade of living, breathing camels from the children's show passed by in a gigantic red trailer. I gave more out-of-towners directions around the festival than I could reasonably count, barked gibberish into a walkie-talkie and shrugged helplessly when people asked me the way to I-81. It was a hell of a time. 

When I could get away from lot-minding or fence-watching and venture into the show, I found it a fairly nice place; there were a great many craft tents, a boat show, a Greek restaurant's tent (sadly I couldn't go--my meal ticket was for another local restaurant's trailer that served no sandwiches not including meat, including a bacon cheeseburger with Krispy Kreme donuts for a bun. I did not get that because I wish to not die). It was county fair meets boat and antique car show meets mild circus, all the way through.

 I have to say, though, I had by far the most fun with the walkie-talkies that all the parking-lot minders were issued. We were communicating throughout the day, letting each other when lots were filled or how many spots were still available where, and there was a delightful air of what I imagine chaotic battlefield communications must be like underlaying everything. "P10 is full, P10 is full!" "Okay, P2, I'm sending them around to your side!" "P1 is being overrun, we need help over here!" "P3, do you copy?!" People got unduly excited or yell-y, everything sounded worse than it was, and it all contributed to this glorious atmosphere of general bedlam. I enjoyed it immensely. Things didn't calm down until well into the afternoon, when I got to simply sit and watch the legions of antique cars pass by my spot as they sped out towards Cork Road. 

Overall, it was a pretty fun couple of days, although I'm paying for it in sunburn as I write this (not that there's much sun to trouble the rest of my peeling companions at the moment, as we're driving through a rainstorm and have been living in one since yesterday.) We have another ISP tomorrow, weather permitting, at a Habitat for Humanity somewhere in the general area of Maryland. I don't know, I just get in the van. Should be a nice break from DHAP work though.

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