Hearing Greenfield people talk about how much they enjoyed the Midsummer’s Night on Midway events back in the early 2000s got me thinking negative things. People are always talking about there not being anything to do in a small town and then when something does happen, most don’t show up.
This was true in 1970 and truer today. I’d guess it is due to there being more recreational options and greater pressure on people’s free time. I don’t know about other towns but I suspect it isn’t much different.
Using the annual Greene Countrie Towne Festival as an example, there is always a music stage and on Saturday night a decent country band as the headliner. While a nice crowd is usually present rarely is it standing room only. Those who are in attendance are typically not dynamically involved. They sit in their seats, talk to their neighbors, tap their feet, and maybe sing along with their favorite songs.
But, look at the dance area! Except for some drunk dude dancing with himself plus a couple of 45-year-old women and a few preschoolers, it’s mostly baron. I compare that with a Cajon festival I attended in Louisiana and the differences are day and night.
Their central stage area was huge with a very large paved area roped off for dancing. Early in the evening, a classic rock band was playing and maybe a third of the dance area was occupied. At 9 pm the headliner, Buckwheat Zydeco took the stage and fired up a strong two-step zydeco number. Immediately the folding lawn chairs emptied and the dance floor filled with bodies of every age. Young people dancing with old people, old with old, and little kids with little kids. About the only people not dancing were the very affirmed and a couple of guys from Ohio who were stunned by what was happening.
I’ve always wondered if there is something in the DNA of Cajuns that just won’t let them remain sitting when a fiddle and squeezebox fire up. I’ve observed the same happen in Texas Roadhouses. Have we ever had anything that comes close to these things in our culture?
The Louisiana festival I attended was the world’s oldest and largest event devoted to the crawfish. It was fenced in and controlled. Being a celebration of Cajun culture you couldn’t find a corn dog or an Italian sub. The concessions were operated by local organizations and while one group served boiled crawfish another served crawfish etouffee and another boudin sausage with red beans and rice. The only outside vendor I saw was a portable bar owned by New Orleans’s Pat O’Brien, the inventor of the hurricane cocktail.
Again it brings me back to DNA. Is there something so different between us in Southern Ohio that we are content to sit, tap our foot, and eat Wonder Bread rather than take on a bowl of spicy jambalaya and a two-step?