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Monday, October 3, 2011

Sometimes Festival Hopping Doesn't Go As Planned.

With as many festivals as there are in Ohio, I sometimes get rather ambitious. That's especially the case now as the core of the season is coming to a close and festivals explode all over the state one more time for a last hurrah.

Of course, now that fall is upon us, the days are getting shorter and the festivals sometimes only last a day, usually ending by 5. Throw in some rainy weather and it can make scheduling a festival trip rather frustrating.

This last weekend, I decided to check out 5 festivals, traveling all day Saturday to see them. I knew it was ambitious, but it seemed doable.

The festivals were in the following cities:
1.) Huntsburg
2.) Mesopotamia
3.) Hartville
4.) Mineral City
5.) Shreve

And, on a map, it looked like this...

Ambitious, but doable.

I made for an early start and drove into Amish Country, arriving first in Huntsburg by 10:30 while some vendors were still setting up.

It was rainy, windy and chilly, but there was still a decent amount of people at this small town festival.

I took my photos, talked with some people and everything seemed to be going well.

With some pumpkin goodies in hand, I headed off to festival #2...

...driving 15 minutes further to Mesopotamia.

Here, I loved the town's touristy charm...

...with that old-fashioned facade...

...Amish buggy sign...

...a world's record (largest) horse and buggy...

...and a general store...

..with more cute stuff inside...

...quirky entertainment...

...and tons of (soda) pop.

But after my tour around the store, I directed my attention back to why I was here. There had been no obvious sign of a festival huge banners or vendors or rides for the kids. All the cars I saw in the town parking lot were owned by shoppers, not festival-goers.

So where was the festival?

I asked a girl at the ice cream counter where Mesopotamia Heritage Day was taking place...

...and she directed me to Town Hall...

...where a craft fair took place.

Even with the fry pies and the musical entertainer (who sold CD's) in the lobby... still wasn't a festival... I hung my head and continued on to Hartville where a festival was taking place in the parking lot of...

...the Hartville Market Place (a huge flea market type mall).

But I didn't see a festival taking place here either.

I walked inside for information and eventually checked the website on my phone...

...only to read this.

My spirits were suddenly draining and I was getting hungry.

Now passed two o'clock, I had originally planned on eating lunch in Mesopotamia when I realized there was no festival, only to continue on to eat in Hartville. By the time I was looking at the menu in the Market Place, I was telling myself that there was a huge Amish restaurant outside that I could check out instead.

But, of course, when I went to that restaurant, the line was absolutely long and overwhelming...

...especially for someone on a schedule to check out two more festivals and drive a few hours back home!

So I got back on the road, searching for some quick fast food before going on to Mineral City...

...and I drove to the Portage Road exit in North Canton for some Wendy's.

This was a mighty mistake!

Not only was it rainy, but it was traffic-filled, thanks to a huge shopping area.

Now really hungry as I first headed toward Wendy's, I suddenly changed my mind and headed toward Giant Eagle (grocery) for the possibility that they might be grocery store sushi in this North Canton location.

But I switched lanes too late and had to turn around before waiting in traffic again until I found the correct entrance. I wasted valuable time in the process...

...but was lucky enough to find some decent grocery store sushi.

While eating quickly in the car, I now faced a dilemma: it was 3 o'clock, my enthusiasm was gone, I knew I wouldn't make the Shreve festival in time (they ended at 5), and the Mineral City festival was an hour further away still (and with a $5 admission).

I sat there in the car, thought for a few minutes and initially drove toward Mineral City...

...only to change directions and wander aimlessly down country roads.

I passed through Navarre and Wooster along 250, enjoying the winding roads, green hills and occasional family of ducks and ducklings that waddled along the side of the road.

I stopped at Grandpa's Cheese Barn in Ashland, getting some cheese and learning that they stopped making their delicious pies.

I then decided to cut up 511, until I was eventually stopped in Nova... a passing train.

As this moving obstacle ran before my car, I thought about my day and how nothing seemed to go right.

Rain, cancellations, traffic and indecision turned my 5-festival day into a 1-festival day and, although I felt that I had accomplished nothing, I knew that my disappointment was created only by myself.

Only I had put such an obligation upon one else had.

I had to remember that I had already done more than enough with my festival documentation. I didn't have to prove myself to anyone.

Instead, I just needed to remember why I was doing this in the first place: to visit these Ohio communities, meet new interesting people and enjoy my adventures (sharing them was secondary).

Sometimes I forget this.

Of course, life has a way of reminding you of what's important, as it did me...

That next morning, when I got in my car, the tire pressure warning light came on and I found one of my tires almost completely flat.

Later on, as my father and I changed the tire...

...we found that the thread had separated.

Thinking of my long drive the day before and the various horrible endings that could have resulted from that tire, I thought less of the festivals that I missed and more on how fortunate I really was.

Suddenly, the day seemed like a really fortunate one...

...and I felt truly blessed.

I still do.