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Monday, August 30, 2010

Country breakfast buffet at the Ole Sawmill Cafe.

LOTS FOR BREAKFAST:  A plate of buffet offerings
  • LOTS FOR BREAKFAST: A plate of buffet offerings
On my way to Memphis for an assignment last week, I dropped into a little place I haven’t visited before. I’ve seen those signs for The Ole Sawmill Café in Forrest City for a long time, but somehow I’ve never made it in.
My intention had been to grab an egg sandwich and go on to my next destination with some haste. It was 9am and I had a whole lot on my plate. But the promise of a decent breakfast buffet for the price of $6.50 seemed like a reasonable risk. After all, that’s about what I’d pay for a full breakfast just about anywhere, and I was hungry.
I found a table in the middle section of the almost deserted restaurant and met my waitress there. She took my drink order and suggested I help myself. So I did. After all, time was of the essence.
Now, I usually have a significant problem with breakfast buffets, since many lean heavy on breakfast meats like bacon and sausage and on old standbys like sausage gravy — all things I can’t enjoy. I have been known to go seek a refund when I view a buffet and find that there’s no way it’d be worth my time and money. Most places understand.
I didn’t have that problem here. Yes, there was a big pile of bacon, and of sausage, and ham, and pork tenderloin slices — along with the sausage gravy. But there were also chicken fried steak fingers, potato cakes, white gravy, biscuits, scrambled eggs, grits, oatmeal, French toast sticks, nice fluffy biscuits and honey butter — plenty on which I might dine. I was great with that.
Now, there weren’t piles of fruit or yogurt or anything like that there. Just hot food. But for what it was, it was pretty good. Nothing was especially greasy, the oatmeal was soft, the grits were perfect (perfect enough for me to go back and get a whole ‘nother bowl) and the eggs were pretty good. It was a nice, filling meal before my Memphis-area soujourn.
I ended up paying more than $6.50, because I imbibed in iced tea. Drink’s not covered on that buffet, but that was fine.
Thing is, The Ole Sawmill Café is very reminiscent in décor of your average Cracker Barrel. It’s been in its current location for about ten years; before that, it was elsewhere in Forrest City. It has its roots in another café, the Liberty Bell Café, which dates back to 1939. I could go all into it, but you can find out much more on The Ole Sawmill Caféwebsite. No need to rehash. Lots of local crafts in the gift shop. I woulda liked to have shown you, but I wasn’t paying attention and forgot to photograph the inside of the shop.
Anyway, you’ll find The Ole Sawmill Café in Forrest City. Take the first (Forrest City vs. Wynne) exit at exit 241, head south and then turn right at the first light. They also serve lunch and dinner, with some buffets and a lot of menu items that you can view over in the website. For more information, call (870) 630-2299.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quiet Waters.

I’ve spent much time over the course of my adult life in Eureka Springs. It is, for myself and my husband too, where we retreat to when we’re looking for escape. In many ways we’ve adopted it as our second hometown and we treasure every chance we can get to return there. Which makes it strange that we hadn’t heard of Blue Spring.

Mind you, there are a whole heck of a lot of things in Eureka Springs that could draw our attention. But it took until now, our umpteenth visit to the area, to actually seek out and find this remote yet important asset to the area.

It’s certainly not new -- in fact, it could be argued that Blue Spring is one of the oldest things in the county, having been bubbling up constantly clear 54 degree water at the rate of 38 million gallons a day for longer than humankind has bothered it. Native Americans considered the spring to be sacred ground. The Osage used the spring as the anchor of their trading post. Generations have visited it -- but it is new to us.

The property, the Blue Spring Heritage Center, is on the National Historic Register, officially for its connection with the Trail of Tears. The Cherokee people were camped on the ridge above the spring for nine days in 1839 during that tragedy before being pushed further on into Oklahoma Territory.

There are lots of other reasons it could have made it onto the historic register, though. For instance, there was a mill that resided on the banks of the spring, about a quarter mile from where it spurts forth from the Earth. There are remnants of the mill on-site -- a turbine still in place, the wooden dam on the spring, and an old grist mill up by the visitors center. It’s been gone for decades, though.

Contemporary to that mill, gardens were planted, and the spring became a bit of a tourist attraction. The constantly cool water gave rise to all sorts of plants that might not have survived elsewhere.

In 1971, University of Arkansas students under the direction of Robert G. Chenall conducted a dig down from the fount of the spring at a ledge and discovered the remnants of societies as far back as 8000 years. The Bluff Shelter, as it is known, has been providing cover and relief from the weather for passers by for millenia.

In 1993, Eureka Gardens were born around the Spring, and in 2003 the Blue Springs Heritage Center was created to tie together gardens, spring and history into one very comprehensive and lovely site.

Well, it was time for us to go see this wonder. We set our date for a Tuesday afternoon and got out there much later than we planned. The sky had threatened to open up and rain on us a couple of times, so we’d waited about as long as we were comfortable. The drive over was pretty, past Thorncrown Chapel and over the next ridge. After taking the turn off of US Highway 62 we descended down a road that gave us brief glimpses of the White River below.
Pulling up, we saw a collection of buildings -- a barn, restroom building, outbuilding, and visitors center. After figuring out where to park, we entered the building and walked through the gift shop.

Our kind hostess gave us a brief overview of the site, with a couple of suggestions and admonitions. She told us about the supposed healing powers of Blue Spring, and where to sit on the bridge if we wanted to dangle our feet in the cold water. She told us about the film we should watch before we went down to the spring. And she specifically told us to head down to the spring first instead of the Woodland Garden. “I want to see fannies, not faces. That’s a long staircase,” she told us.

We went over to the next building, which housed a small museum with artifacts about the spring and early Eureka Springs, and watched 20 minutes of film in the air conditioning. The film explains the history of the spring itself. There’s also a bit of a trailer for a DVD you can purchase at the gift shop about the first dive into the recesses of the spring. Neat stuff.

Cooled off once more, Paul and I started our descent down the steps. It’s a good two or three stories down, but there are platforms along the way to stop. Lots to see, too, such as the replica mill near the top, the old grist stone from the old mill, that sort of thing.

There were mosquitoes along the trail; we should have figured we’d encounter them, considering the time of year and the proximity to open water. We smacked a couple as we descended past the rocks and the flora to the boardwalk below.

We turned left at the bottom of the stairs and headed for the first station, a trout feeding point where fish food was kept in a gumball machine and a gazebo and porch leaned out over the water. Paul took a handful and went to the edge, tossing in one handful after another. As each handful was thrown, the water boiled with hungry fish. They were big, too, some almost as long as my arm, and they were used to being fed for sure.

We ventured on, looking out at the spring as we traveled up. In spots the water was milky white, as if the bottom had been disturbed. In others, it was greenish blue, and in still others moss under the surface gave it a brown appearance.

The banks were stacked with large stones. We caught sight of a day glow orange fish, about a foot long, that darted back and forth just below the surface of the lagoon. I wish my camera could have caught it sufficiently.

And then the boardwalk took us over the spring itself, massive Blue Spring in all its quiet glory. The stone wall around the spring was placed there during a very brief period in the early 20th century when a company was formed to sell the water. Yeah, that company lasted about a year. I’m glad the cap that was over that stone wall is gone. Wouldn’t be much to see, would there be?

All along the sloping edges leading down to the blue-green pool, flowers and herbs take over. It’s a bright spot, quite fragrant and buzzing with insects. At the same time, it’s very quiet.

And what did we want? A beverage.

Paul went over to a vending station that was kindly pointed away from the spring. He returned with a carbonated beverage of choice and we debated our next step. It was either off to the gardens or onward along the lagoon. I sat down on a bench by the spring itself that was partly covered by vines and flowers, and kept getting this butterfly knocking against the side of my head. It was almost too idyllic.

What the hostess at the visitors center had said rang out in my mind. I’ve been nursing a sore ankle for weeks; I sprained it mid-July when stepping off a small step in my house onto one of Hunter’s building blocks and had pretty badly twisted the side - not the bottom - of my foot. After all the stairs and the length of the boardwalk it ached. I decided to see if the medicinal properties of the water were honest.

Then again, if you think about it, it makes sense. 54 degree water -- that’d be like immersing one’s foot in a bath of cold packs, right? Sure it would be. But still not as cold as a refrigerator. I took off my shoe, my foot brace and my sock and then hobbled over to the crossing bridge we’d been told from which we could access the water.

I used the rail to carefully lower myself down. Paul watched to make sure I didn’t fall in - don’t laugh, stranger things have happened. I sat cross legged and pulled up my pant leg, then lowered my foot into the water.

And it was cold. Damn, it was cold. But somehow, it felt pretty good, too. After my initial shock I lowered my foot in again, noticing how the veins on the top of my foot popped up. The wind rose and fell, and it sighed, and so did I.

Another couple came along the trail shortly. They came down to the spring, saw what I was doing and joined me. I must have had my foot in that water a good 20 minutes or so before I decided I needed to get up. We had a lot more to look at before the center closed at 6pm.

But Paul had decided he wanted to give it a try, so while I dried my foot and put everything back on he shed his socks and shoes and slid his legs under the sidebar of the bridge.

I noticed that the pain in my ankle had indeed receded; whether this was from a “curative bath” in the waters or the far more likely possibility that the cold had taken down the swelling in my ankle, I didn’t know. Whatever way, I was thankful.

Some 15 minutes later I reminded Paul of the time, and he scurried back onto the pathway and put on his footgear. We meandered down the pathway on the other side of the lagoon, a little sad we didn’t have time to check out the Medicine Wheel garden. That was okay.

The late afternoon sun was starting its descent. There was a hum in the air, and we found ourselves gazing at the water as we passed down that way.

There was a splash, and we saw a muskrat flip over at the surface, apparently fishing in the lagoon’s clear water.

Down past that, we came to the old dam. Across the way lay many things we’d pass on our way out.

The dam is narrow, barely large enough for two people to squeeze by each other on its wooden planks.

From there we could see up towards the spring and out towards the White River, not more than a quarter mile down.

Up on the far bank lies the only remaining part of the old mill at that location, the old turbine. There’s a sign there talking about the piece of machinery. Its red rusted hull still stands like a sentinel at the lagoon’s termination point. From this elevation you can just see down to the stone ring that encompasses the spring.

More wonders were ahead of us, though, in the form of the Bluff Shelter. This amazing rock formation would be interesting enough just from the way it juts out over the bank of the river.

What makes it more interesting is what was found there. There are plaques with information about Doctor Chenall’s famed dig here, and numbers scribbled up on the wall above that mark out the hieroglyphs left there by ancient folks. There are also benches, and if we’d had the time it would have been a good place to relax before making the last part of the trek.

Unfortunately, we were out of time. With just 15 minutes before the close of the park we needed to get moving. My stomach was already growling for the veritable feast I expected at Bubba’s Southern Pit BBQ that evening. But we did stop briefly a few times. Just past the fence north of the old mill site, there’s this unusual tree that’s growing out of a rock, no joke. That I had to photograph, in all its unlikely glory.

I caught a glimpse of boaters out at the mouth of Blue Spring on the White River, casting their lines far off. The trees framed the scene beautifully.

As we wandered back up, we noted the vulture area and paths here and there. And then we were on a long series of ramps that zig-zagged back and forth up the side of the hill, pausing at the gazebo that looks out over the garden. Another time of year, this area would be ablaze with color, but in the August heat things had withered. I didn’t mind that. I liked the idea of the sustainable garden, and was happy that perennials instead of annuals had been favored in the area. I want to come back in the fall and see the blaze of color from fall flowers against the turning leaves.

And then we were back to the top, stopping briefly through the gift shop to thank our hostess and head on out so she could close the doors. We mentioned the couple on the paths behind us.

I know, this is far from a great story about Blue Spring. I want to go back at a time when the weather is more temperate and the heat hasn’t withered the majority of the blooms away. But it was a lovely place, even in the dead heat of our hottest month. And for that, I’m glad I need to go back, thankful for the excuse to enjoy these gardens again.

You’ll find Blue Spring Heritage Center off Highway 62 five and a half miles west of Eureka Springs. Admission is $7.25 for adults, $4 for students 10 to 17 and free for anyone under the age of ten. The gardens are open from March 15th through the second Sunday in November. Go. Take water. And your camera. You’ll find more information on the Blue Springs website or by calling (479) 253-9244.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Melon in the heat.

Heat and watermelon just go together. It’s not just the way the summer bakes watermelons to their proper ripeness. It’s the cool refreshment, the garden’s canteen for the working man, the thirst-quenching sweet welcome to drench a shirt when one sits on the back porch, a salvation from the inferno that rages all around.

I suppose it’s no wonder then that Arkansas has two watermelon festivals. And I have waxed poetically time and time about one of those festivals, the Cave City Watermelon Festival. The one I haven’t taken you to yet is the one you’re more likely to have heard about. That, my friends, is the Hope Watermelon Festival.

Hope itself has received much notoriety these past few decades, having spun forth two Arkansas governors who have both sought the presidency (Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee). But long before either of these boys from Hope stepped on the national stage there were the watermelons -- big’uns, legendary whoppers that took records and brought crowds to gawk.

I felt the compunction to finally travel to this famed festival, this Hope Watermelon Festival that convenes the second week of August every year. I wasn’t going alone. I took with me my child and two close friends and photographers, Grav Weldon and Leif Hassell. The temperature was above 100, we were full of breakfast from Ed & Kay’s in Benton and we were searching all over for the appropriate approach. From the interstate we had followed signs that seemed to take us on an unnecessarily circuitous route into the county fairgrounds, where we forked over $3 to park (a donation to the local Boy Scouts) and assembled ourselves outside the vehicle, me with Hunter in her stroller and all three adults with our cameras of choice. It was hot, we were ruddy and it was time to go get the story.

Somehow, we’d missed out on the bigwigs and their watermelon eating contest. Lots of cars had passed us on our way in, but that had allowed us to get parking up close so I wasn’t complaining. We hadn’t gotten 20 yards from the car before we were all showing signs of the drenching humid heat that surrounded us.

Our first stop was a vendor’s pavilion, shaded but sawdusted. Grav and Leif took off through the building to get shots; Hunter and I hung back, me shooting with my little point-and-shoot camera here and there. I saw crazy things -- inappropriate T-shirts, camouflage lingerie, depictions of animals created from garden implements. Bizarre and strange stuff, all of it and the vendors selling the items sweltering in the almost unbearable heat.

I caught up to Leif at a jelly stand, where our eyes had been drawn. The lady behind the table was fanning herself; what had drawn our attention was the way the burgeoning sun had illuminated the jellies from behind, all colors of the rainbow save blue, virtual stained glass. Beautiful, if indeed a little strange.

“Where’s Grav?” Leif asked.

“I thought he’d taken off with you.”

“He went on… do you see him?”

We spent a few minutes looking, with no success. I tried to call Grav’s phone but it went to voicemail.

Leif and Hunter and I crossed over to the Arts & Crafts building and went in. It was air conditioned inside, but all we saw were three vendors along the narrow hall.

We decided to split up, and Leif went on while I went out the back. He returned to me a moment later.

“He’s at the seed spitting contest.”

“That’s good.”

“Should we go that way?”

“In a minute. I want to see what’s going on here.”

The little dusty lot we were in was littered with tiny riding lawnmowers decked out in all sorts of decorations. There were teams of kids and adults gathered under a tree, and trophies were being handed out. This, I learned, was the award ceremony for the lawnmower races.

A few minutes longer and the heat was just eating us alive. I followed Leif into a packed auditorium. There were vendors everywhere, and by the back entrance we had come through was a bingo game. Leif captured a shot of the woman spinning the lettered numbers in a cage.

“Who you workin’ for?” she asked.

“Well, I write this blog…” I started.

“Aw, I don’t do computers. When’s it going to be in the paper?” she asked. I just smiled and thanked her and moved on.

We shuffled in between vendor after vendor, looking for a way out of the maze. There were all sorts of things being sold inside -- from bed sheets to rocks to feed to dresses made from pillowcases to John Deere paraphernalia to jelly to… well, the vendors were everywhere, and in between the little aisles were people, a sea of people, hiding indoors form the heat.

We finally managed to make it to the front entrance of the gymnasium, where there was a giant fiberglass watermelon seated next to the T-shirts and programs for the festival. I picked one up and looked through it. It was coming up on 2pm and there was the seed spitting, sure -- and later the arm wrestling competition.

We ventured out into the heat, concerned we’d lost Grav. Leif helped me get Hunter through the doorway, and we turned and walked through one line of the concession stands. Here there were all sorts of things -- gator on a stick, fried meat pies, fried fruit pies, pickled eggs, corn on the cob, dogs, suds… the cacophony of scents hung in the air. But not a stroke of watermelon to be found.

I made a mental note that I needed to come back and try the homebrew root beer. Leif looked impatient.

“Shouldn’t we find Grav?”

“I’m sure we should -- but I want to look at stuff. Besides, we’ll have different perspectives.”

“Okay?” he quizzically responded in a way that wasn’t quite a question or an answer.

“I want to see what’s over there in that big tent,” I told him, pointing to the west.

We heard a shout and a holler from a crowd some distance away. “I think that’s where the seed spitting is happening,” Leif told me.

“Good. Want to go?”

“Well, yeah, isn’t that what we’re here for?”

“It is. You go. I’ll catch up.”

“You sure?”

“I’m sure.”

He took off, and I knelt beside Hunter to check on her. She was watching the world pass by google-eyed. I opened my water bottle and offered her a drink. She took one, then popped her bottle back into her mouth.

I looked the way Leif had gone, then towards the tent, and I took the stroller off the road and headed towards that tent.

It was a long way off, but something big had to be going on because I could see dozens of people sitting underneath, though from that distance I could not determine what they were doing. I stopped at the pork rind stand and took photos of the guy pulling the fresh hot rinds from the grease.

“Want a sample, ma’am?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t.”

“Sure you can!”

“Sorry, no, I’m allergic to pork.”

He sat down his basket hard. “How do you manage to eat around here?”

I laughed. “It’s a challenge.”

“God bless you, ma’am.”

“Thank you.”

I pushed Hunter’s stroller past the inflatable attractions for the kids, past political booths and a raffle, past people picnicking. And finally I could see what was under the tent.

There, somewhat quietly, were nearly a hundred people, quietly munching on watermelon in the heat. Nearby, there was a bulldozer with a bucket being slowly filled with used watermelon rinds.

There was this strange hush over this crowd. It wasn’t just that mouths were full of watermelon -- it was the oppressive heat. It was so hot that the ice cold watermelon was warm by the time forks hit the white under the red. It was so hot that I saw people who had cradled bits of rind against their skin and their t-shirts, looking for the dampness to take away some of the heat that just wouldn’t quit.

Beyond the tent was a series of tables set up around a refrigerated truck. From it, men were pulling one watermelon after another, big honkin’ melons they’d divide longitudinally into eighths. Each eighth was a dollar, and they handed over a paper towel and a fork with each purchase.

The line wasn’t long, but the hours were -- apparently the watermelon’s available the entire time until it is gone, starting Thursday night.

“Want some watermelon, Hunter?” I asked. She looked at me askew and sucked on her bottle harder, Maggie-style. I laughed and wheeled her back to the east.

I could see the crowd around the stage but not much of the stage itself. Carefully I rolled the stroller along behind the stage and listened to what was going on. One after another, young people were being called up to take their turns spitting seeds.

Later I’d find that Leif and Grav had both met up on that other side of the same stage. What shots… so much better than I could get with my little Nikon P50. I need a better camera.

I’d find out later that Grav and Leif had gone from there in search of gator. We’d talked about gator on the way down -- as one of those odd little festival foods that you can find this time of year. Grav was bound and determined to find some. So about the time I was taking video of the seed spitting they were back off towards the tent where the watermelon was being consumed. Not having found any there… they walked back to the concessionary stands, where Leif discovered he had lost his cell phone. He told Grav where we’d come from earlier and left him as he went back to retrace his steps.

Left alone, Grav went to a gator vendor and bought a skewer of gator-on-a-stick for $7. He consumed this while looking around to see if he could spot Leif’s phone. Grav’s description:

“It was quite tasty. It had a slight Cajun seasoning to it, but the breading was crisp, the texture -- I was expecting something like chicken. The other time I’ve had it, it basically was the consistency of chicken, but so was anything else you added to gumbo except maybe shrimp. This had a much leaner and dense texture than any chicken or fowl. In fact the closest meat I’ve come to its texture and flavor would have to be rattlesnake.”

So at that point, Grav decided to try to call Leif’s phone -- but no answer. About the point where he’d found Leif, Grav got a call -- it was someone who’d picked up Leif’s phone and had dialed the last number, hoping to find the person who’d lost it. Grav says “it’s nice to know there are nice--- perhaps honest instead of nice --- people out there, because I thought my friend’s phone was toast.”

You may be wondering “well, Kat, what were you doing all this time?” Well, I had headed off down another lane of concessionary stands, taking the random photo and checking in on Hunter from time to time.

A church had set up a stand with a couple of water coolers for people to get a drink, and I gratefully filled my water bottle again. I offered it to Hunter, and this time she drank very deeply from it. She looked at me with a little exhaustion in her eyes.

A political volunteer came up and offered me a fan. I handed it to her and laughed when she started fanning herself with it. We progressed onward along the route.

I was stopped dead by an improbable sight -- a man carrying what appeared to be a Capuchin monkey on his shoulder. I stopped.

I noticed I was about to walk through a line of people. These people were waiting in line. To have their photos taken. With the monkey. For five bucks. I kid you not. There were all sorts of signs -- “Give the monkey a quarter for good luck.” “Give the monkey a dollar for a photo.”

There was a family of four taking their position inside the tent, and the man was handing the monkey over to sit in the laps of the two children. A woman went to focus her camera.

Ah, only in Arkansas.

Shaking my head, I progressed on further to another church stand. I had been paying attention to each of the concession stands to see what sort of odd food was being offered. The words “pickle juice” caught my eye.

Now, I’m a weird bird. I like pickle juice. I prefer it to Gatorade when I have to be out in the sun. And while water and soda was a buck they were selling pickle juice for 50 cents.

Yeah, you know I bought a cup.

I took a sip, enjoying the refreshing salty beverage a bit.

Hunter started hollering for my drink. I squatted beside her, took out my camera, and prepared to shoot. She’d never tried it before, and this was going to be interesting.

I handed her the cup. She looked at it like it was some sort of weird Kool-Aid. She drank. And she puckered.

I prepared to grab the water bottle again, getting ready to give her water to take the taste out of her mouth.

Instead, she reached for the cup again. My daughter, the pickle juice lover.

She sipped away at it as I pushed the stroller along further, capturing photos of big hand-held size fried pies and people lining up for fried gator on a stick. I managed to make it back to the gymnasium and halfway up the concessionary line again, still taking photos and checking on Hunter in-between shots. She’d gone back to slurping water out of the bottle. Pickle juice had even gotten to her. I took the cup back and put in the holder on top.

I spotted a vendor selling pickled eggs, and I stopped to take a photo. After I’d snapped, the proprietor leaned over and looked at me.

“Ma’am, that’s just plain rude.”

“I’m sorry, sir, I shoulda asked for permission,” I sheepishly replied.

“Oh, you can take pictures of the eggs. But how come you didn’t want me in it?”

I paused. “Would you like to be in the picture, sir?”

“I sure would!” he crowed, leaning over the counter next to the eggs. I took another shot and thanked him. He grinned at me.

“You get hungry, you know where to find them,” he told me.

I just grinned and slowly edged Hunter’s stroller away. Moments later I caught waving hands out of the corner of my eye, and saw the guys heading towards me from the other direction.

“There you are! You gotta try this!” Leif was calling.

“It’s just vile!” Grav said, wiping sweat from his brow with the back of his arm and holding out this brown bottle.

“I’ll trade!” I offered, holding out the cup of pickle juice.

“Gladly!” he said, swapping bottle for cup. “What is this?”

I caught him just before he drank it. “It’s pickle juice.”

“You’re really, really sick,” he told me, handing the cup back to me.

“Why’s it vile?” I asked, holding the bottle back up

“I like it,” Leif told me.

“Root beer?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s good,” Leif confirmed.

“That’s a matter of opinion,” Grav remarked.

I tried a swig. It was birch-y and sweet and kinda spicy for root beer, but rather good, too. But it wasn’t carbonated. That’s why Grav thought it was vile. I wasn’t surprised.

“Sure you don’t want the pickle juice?” I asked him.


We found our way back to the Arts and Crafts building, where we sat on plywood steps while we cooled off. The two guys alternated fanning Hunter and cooling her down; she’d turned bright red in the heat. Grav bought a hat. Leif showed me shots from his camera. I panted.

We eventually found our way out to the car. Outside the gates, we went to find a Sonic, where it took no less than 25 minutes to get our drink order. And somehow our order taker had interpreted “One Route 44 strawberry Limeade, one Route 44 Ocean Water, one Route 44 unsweet iced tea and two vanilla cones” as five beverages… but I digress.

Thing is, the Hope Watermelon Festival was a lot bigger than I’d anticipated. It was easily four times the size of the Cave City Watermelon Festival and about as spread out. I think we only saw about half of what was going on. And I’m sure it was fun… it was just so damned hot. So hot.

Will I go back? Perhaps. Maybe on a Friday night to capture a concert and have some watermelon. I just wonder how much money they make off of selling watermelon and other stuff.

There will be another festival next year. And you’ll be able to find out about it on the website. We have finally recovered from the heat. Next year Hunter can push her own stroller.