So, we headed east to Urbanna for the Oyster Festival this weekend. I call it the love child of SEC football and Mardi Gras, but way more family friendly. Urbanna is a tiny town of about 500 folks or so that plays host to this festival that has an attendence of about 50,000. There are RV’s everywhere you look. And parades, daily. And booth upon booth of just about every fried food you can imagine. Fried Ho-ho’s. Fried Pecan Pie. The Seafood Fritter, which is the size of a plate, with all manner of seafood in it. The air is heavy with the scent of french-fried-corndogs-funnelcake-fried goodness. I’m pretty sure my arteries hardened just walking around this weekend. Someone said they saw a sign for deep fried butter. Serious fried food.
Friday night, all roads into town close at 6 pm for the Firetruck Parade. This parade consists of 60 firetrucks from all over the state of Virginia – although there was one from Maryland this year. Last year, we timed how long we could hear the parade before we could actually see it – about an hour. And then it was another 20 minutes until we actually saw the trucks and not just the lights.
This year, they reversed the parade route, so as soon as we heard it, we had to trot out to see it. It was nicer being on the front end, it moved faster and so therefore was easier with the kiddos.
We stay with dear friends who live in town. They both work at the school and Smiley raises oysters – so all weekend long, we just eat his oysters. As well as all the fried food you can imagine, not to mention some fabulous things we have all cooked up. Saturday morning, we set out to walk the town, see the sights and get something to eat. Crab bisque from the ladies at the church on Main Street, along with a ham biscuit for your pocket is a must. As a devotee of funnel cake, that’s a must for me as well.
The roads into town are closed again all day Saturday, with the big parade starting up at 2. Shriner’s from all over the state, local marching bands, Miss Oysterfest, Little Miss Spat and their courts are all featured. Our friends live right off the parade route, so once again, we have a great spot for viewing and then head back to the house to start up some dinner. The festival ends about 8 or so I believe – and then , just like Mardi Gras, clean up begins. Into the night you can hear the sounds of dump trucks and street sweepers and when you walk around town Sunday morning, you can only see small remnants of what happened the day before. The air no longer smells of fried food.
The best part though, is the friends.
It’s a certain group of friends that gather for this and sometimes this is the only time all year we see each other. The kids get along wonderfully and really are like cousins. Edie is 3 years older than the closest one to her in age, but she is dream child, so, so far, we’ve been okay. She’s really awesome with the younger ones. The first year Owen realized Edie was one of them, but could read to him was pretty magical and since then, he’s been in awe of her. They all are actually. This year it was pointed out to me that she’s becoming a ‘tween’. I’m not sure I’m ready for this development, although, I have noticed us heading towards that, but since I’m around her every day, I haven’t been as quick to acknowledge it. Mollie however, who first met Edie when she was barely 24 hours old and hadn’t seen her since July, noticed it Friday night, in a loud shocked pronouncement. Everyone else still has a while before their kids move into this stage, but, with the first baby moving into it, it’s now inevitable for all of them.
Oysterfest is how we mark the year- it’s just after Halloween, but before the ‘real’ holidays we spend with family. Someone remarked this might be the best holiday all year and I can’t agree more. We spend it with the friends who are the family we’d choose if we could. We really are an assortment of kindred spirits and we are all completely comfortable being around each other just doing nothing. We have little traditions we carry on every year – most notably, Saturday Afternoon Women’s Wine, Sunday Planting Ceremony, among others. We spend days planning and everyone brings all sorts of goodies to share – and a good deal of it has been raised, shot, canned, baked ourselves or by someone we knew, from the moonshine we drank to the goose on Saturday afternoon, the sausage Sunday morning to the oysters all weekend long. This year when we said goodbye, the boys had already set a date for our next get together, so us gals didn’t have to wait all year to see each other again. Because truth be told, our husbands manage to get out and visit each other, take fishing trips, but it’s rare I get to see any of the wives. I can’t wait.
Now to just make it through the holidays….