I had a “Charles Emerson Winchester at the phonograph” moment on Saturday evening at the Ogle Center. The Louisville Orchestra launched into its opening piece, … where unsolvable problems go, and suddenly the concert hall seemed like a last-ditch bastion of sanity amid the tumult.
Apart from the single beer I drank at Pints&union early on Friday morning after tapping a keg of Revolution Oktoberfest (quality control is a professional obligation, folks, and what’s more, wasting beer annoys me tremendously), I’ve stayed nice and toasty dry this Harvest Homecoming in terms of personal beverage alcohol consumption.
I considered walking down on Sunday and buying a rolled oyster, maybe even having one beer — but didn’t. Better to keep a clear head for the clean-up.
Believe it or not, I’ve worked hard these past few years to achieve a measure of inner peace with regard to Harvest Homecoming, especially as our signature civic festival pertains to a rapidly changing scene downtown.
It isn’t my purpose at present to rekindle these controversies, although it should be noted that my core belief hasn’t changed.
Some day very soon, it will become patently obvious that the festival no longer is conducive to downtown’s best interests, at least as it currently is formatted. There’ll have to be major changes. Regular readers have seen and heard it all before, and this is where I’ll leave it today.
However, not without a startling revelation about my own personal viewpoint. In truth, apart from everything else that might be critiqued or analyzed about the Harvest Homecoming experience, the festival never really has been MY kind of celebration.
In short, tiny doses are enough for me, at best. This year I resolved to be helpful by refraining from repeating past pronouncements, and apart from what’s been necessary for me to do at the pub, I’ve stayed completely out of it.
I feel better, y’all feel better.
It’s a win-win for everyone.
Mind you, I don’t dislike festivals as a matter of course.
I’ve been to dozens of beer events, including the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison WI and Oktoberfest in Munich; observed the running of the bulls from safely afar at San Fermin in Pamplona; experienced May Day parades and parties in Vienna and Helsinki; and wandered accidentally into five or six municipal fests in smaller American and European cities, all of them enjoyable.
It isn’t that I don’t see the point of such gatherings in a wider sense, just that I find less of interest here at home in ours. Perhaps familiarity breeds indifference, and after all, I’m a natural-born contrarian who revels in the opposing argument.
But to each his or her own. C’est la vie — of course. If you enjoy Harvest Homecoming, please rock on. Hang out, eat and drink too much with your friends and have fun.
For the sake of Harvest Homecoming’s many fans, I’m happy we had traditional, cool autumn weather this year, and rain restricted for the most part to Sunday.
Depending on what is required of me in the future at the pub, it may be time for the Confidentials to implement our long term goal of timing a vacation to coincide with Harvest Homecoming. In 2016, we did this, driving up to Wisconsin’s capital of Madison on a non-football weekend and enjoying it immensely. New England would be fun right about now, too.
See? This year I posted none of my notorious screeds, stayed out of the beer walk’s path and uttered nary a peep when the mayor kept popping up on television, as though he had anything at all to do with Harvest Homecoming — because even if the festival isn’t my taste, I have enough sense to know who does the heavy lifting.
And it ain’t him.
Okay, okay. As a mild postscript, just this one thing to add.
Each year I briefly enjoy a handful of recurring Harvest Homecoming social media moments. It generally starts when a downtown business owner writes about how disruptive the festival can be for bricks ‘n’ mortar shops and stores, and expresses frustration at being compelled (remember, downtowners have no vote) to pay for booth spaces to access a building being used as well as taxed the year-round.
The business owner soon is answered by John (or Joan) Q. Public, who vigorously defends the festival’s critical annual importance, along with chicken, dumplings and doughnuts, and who proceeds to explain how the business owner might easily shift vast profits from booth spaces and those big festival crowds.
This is where I usually enter the discussion.
I nicely ask the respondent: “So, back when YOU owned a downtown business and Harvest Homecoming came around, how did treating the festival as an opportunity work out for YOU? Was the booth fee worth it for YOU? Did the crowds help or hurt YOU? Was it a fantastic marketing opportunity for YOU?”
There the chat ends, nine times out of ten. Every now and then, there’ll be a final anguished spasm along the lines of “it’s our Harvest Homecoming, asshole, so just take a vacation or something.”
It’s scandalous. There I was, thinking these social media participants might actually know what the hell they’re talking about.
Accordingly, let’s come to an agreement: I don’t pretend to fathom what greasy street food you like the best, and you don’t pretend to know how to run a bricks and mortar downtown business when you’re clueless.
See you next year … unless we’re in Wisconsin, Massachusetts or Bamberg. Until then, I promise to keep my big mouth (partially) shut.