A while ago we picked up this little booklet at Subway that lists what’s going on in the area for the month. I call it my Summer Fun Bible. We’ve been consulting every Friday evening to try to figure out what we want to do each weekend. That’s how we ended up at the most obscure festivals, like the Living History event at the gun club in the backwoods of Massachusetts last month.
Today we elected to check out the Whaling City Festival up in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Bonus — FREE admission! Double bonus — FREE parking! That’s my favorite price.
The fair itself wasn’t all that exciting. Basically it boiled down to row after row after row of vendors, most of which would have been at home at a flea market. I could have bought a knock-off Coach bag or fake Abercrombie clothes. Since I don’t really care about any of that (though I do own several Coach bags), most of the so-called festival was lost on me. Kurt was thrilled to get a generic Sham-Wow (supposedly made in the same factory) for just $1, instead of the $20 that the decidedly un-Vince-like salesman wanted for the real thing
We got some delicious food, I have to say. There were even some local vendors, which pleased me highly. Kurt opted for some pizza that was overpriced, but he enjoyed it. I had to tease him once we found a booth selling linguica links with peppers and sausage — better food for less money! I opted for some clam cakes, and I even ran across a clam or two. They were yummy, but a bit too heavy and greasy for the sunny day. I wish I had gone for something lighter. We also got some “ribbon fries,” which were extremely thin slices of potato that were deep-fried in a mass. They were so, so good. I could have eaten the entire plate!
Eventually we made our way to the playground at the park and let Grace run amok. I love having someone else to help me keep an eye on Grace. The whole time she was playing, Kurt and I would check in with one another to see if we knew where she was. A second pair of eyes always helps! We told her that we were leaving in five minutes, and amazingly enough, she did not make a fuss when it was time to go. She tried, but then I kept praising her for being good, and I think she gave in. It was so awesome.
One of the best parts of the festival was the restrooms. Seriously! Instead of five or six overloaded and full port-a-potties that are disgusting to go near, let alone in, the festival had a trailer that had men’s room on one side and a women’s room on the other. The women’s room had four tiny restrooms off a main waiting area with sinks, and inside each restroom was one of those toilets you see in an RV. Let me tell you, using a normal toilet was AWESOME, as was the running water to be able to wash my hands with afterward. Grace was pleased too.
But the bummer about the whole day was it was to celebrate the city of New Bedford and its whaling history. Yet there was nothing about the history of the city at the festival. It was the same vendors you would see at any summer festival, serving the same food as you’d get anywhere else (minus the Portuguese delicacies), and it was the same carnival games and rides. Where has the local flavor to these festivals gone? I realize that’s how most of the carny folks and vendors make their living, by going from festival to festival all summer long, but it’s resulted in a very homogeneous feel to them all. If you’ve been to one festival, you’ve been to them all.
And I think it’s a shame.