This year we went to the Pond earlier in August than in past years, so we missed the Woodsman’s Day (especially the Grannies’ Hatchet Hoot) as well as the Giant Pumpkin Competition at the Windsor Fair. This was of course dismaying.
But all was not lost. For the first time, I went to the Skowhegan State Fair and witnessed a first class Ladies Skillet Toss. A much bigger event than the Skillet Toss previously seen in Windsor, it was held in the Coliseum and had 3 age categories: 18-35; 36-55; 56 and up. In case you are thinking that the latter age group would be the easy one to beat (well, that’s what I thought), you would be wrong. I watched as the barefoot Darlene, last year’s champion, won the 18-25 year class with a 42’9” toss. The winner in the 26-35 year class was less impressive, with a 37’8” toss, and then the shocker: a gray-haired little old lady of at least six-plus decades won her class with a 39’9” toss. The first prizes in each category were $75 and a skillet.
Back at the pond, where cast iron skillets are in abundance, I practiced for next year, and it is clear that I will need a lot more practice.
Talk about a culinary disconnect: At the Skowhegan State Fair (the nation’s oldest continuously run agricultural fair) the food carts featured fried dough, and fried clams, and fried dough, and fried potatoes, and fried dough, and fried onions, and caramelized popcorn. A month earlier those same fairgrounds hosted the 4th annual Kneading Conference, where organic farmers and artisanal bakers gathered to celebrate the resurgence of locally grown grains.
But we did not go to the fair for the food.
CSB went for the Harness Racing. Like his father before him, CSB is not averse to wagering small sums on large horses pulling small carts bearing small jockeys in silk. He won $8 with Riot Act. And then he went to see the darlings in the building marked “SWINE”.
In other news from Skowhegan, from a very attractive cashier at Hannaford we learned about Heater Hunting. And what is heater hunting?
a. / A competition sponsored by the Maine Woodstove Association to seek out and identify the most perfect wood-burning stove in the state. Points are given for: visual appeal; warmth generated, in BTUs; efficiency; and ease of cleaning.
b. /Driving along Hole-in-the-Wall Road in Athens and shooting at startled partridges from the comfort of a (heated) car.
c. / A form of conceptual moose hunting, in which the participants gather at Ralph Heaters’ Pub and set up a course using beer bottles as trees, a baked potato as the prey, and straws as shooters. Then they proceed to stalk a bull moose. When you miss the moose you are required to drink the nearest bottle of beer, thus clearing the terrain for the next player. The winner gets all the baked potatoes he – or she - wants.
Please email me (Christine.firstname.lastname@example.org) or post your answer.
One last bit of news: the seven Merganser ducklings that were tiny hatchlings in July are now almost as big as their mother and their distinctive feathery reddish crests are developing nicely, thank you very much, imparting to them a permanent bedhead demeanor.