Clinton is a resolute town. Struck by one disaster after another these past few years, its residents have rebuilt and grown stronger together. These folks celebrate with Survivorfest, a Saturday afternoon playing games and spending time together in Clinton City Park. But this year, there was an added twist – why not put Clinton on the news for something good?
Wendy Russ organized this crazy idea – to attempt to break a world record. Not just any record, mind you, but one for the largest potluck ever held.
The word went out, asking Clinton residents to participate. It spread, and others started to receive those invites, including me. The media received notice, and people started to pay attention that there was about to be a big to-do… and people turned out that Saturday morning.
The rules were simple: bring a dish for six or more, arrive between 10:30 and noon, be counted (twice) and prepare for a heck of a meal. Oh, and everyone who came had to partake in the repast.
So Hunter and I headed up there for this event. With us, two pans of brownies for our admission to the event. We arrived to find folks already filling up the parking lot at 10:30 in the morning. A shuttle operated by Grace Baptist Church was hauling folks up to the top of the hill.
The process was easy – check in at the front door, get a wristband (one means of counting the crowd), turning in a dish for each person, heading for the auditorium, giving your name to an attendant (at that door, the second recording for the event) and joining a growing crowd listening to local band Crossroads perform on the Clinton High School stage.
The crowd filtered in, each informed that once they entered the building they couldn’t leave until the potluck had commenced and everyone had been counted.
That didn’t keep people from enjoying the party. Kids played in the back of the hall. Individuals got up on the side stages and danced. There was even dancing in the aisles. Clinton folks know how to cut a rug and have a good time.
I took the opportunity to sneak into the staging area and shoot some of the food. And there really was every sort of food you could imagine. There were dozens of different breads (homemade, pre-packaged, cornbread, sweet breads), salads, stews, vegetables, meats, sandwiches, hot dogs, fruit, cookies, cupcakes, cakes, fig newtons and just about every casserole known to man.
At noon the announcement was made in the hall. Sadly, Clinton didn’t make the cut for the world record – but 410 people had turned out to participate in the effort. And everyone reaped the bounty of a fine meal together.
We all waited in line for our turn, and that came quickly. While the crowd filtered into the gymnasium, I noticed couples of all ages, children, even a three week old boy.
And inside, what a get-together… everyone filling clamshell boxes with food, then sitting down and talking with one another. Clinton may not have broken the record, but they did accomplish something. This celebration was about neighbors.
Will there be another attempt? Folks there were already talking about making a stab at it during Homecoming or the next year’s Chuckwagon Races (this year’s event is this coming weekend, not enough time to organize and pull it off). Whatever happens, it’ll be a marvelous time.