By DENISE FEDOROW
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Fall is definitely in the air. Last weekend’s weather and atmosphere at the Nappanee Apple Festival sure felt like fall — one of my favorite seasons.
I was doing double-duty working the festival most of the weekend with my vendor booth and also covering stories for The News. But my “jobs” are fun, sometimes challenging and always interesting. So while I was technically working, I was also visiting with friends, eating elephant ears and meeting many new people.
I was mainly tied to my booth, so while working on News stories it sometimes came to flagging down people as they passed by to interview and taking photos and talking to folks before and after my shifts at the booth — except for during the Apple Blossom Queen contest when I had additional help.
THERE WERE several times during the weekend when I am sure the expression on my face would’ve been one to capture. Like when I arrived at the booth on Thursday to finish setting up and everything inside was soaked from the heavy rains that day. Standing water on the tabletops, water dripping on the inside walls of the tent, brand new table skirts down and in the mud puddles. I hadn’t unpacked my product from the plastic tubs (thank goodness) but I was stunned.
BFF Deb came to the rescue, producing bath towels from her vehicle.
I said, “Thank goodness! Why do you have towels in your car, but thank goodness you do!”
I opened by myself on Friday and it was busy as I was trying to set up, fielding calls from my editor and talking to interested passers-by all at the same time.
It was probably about 90 minutes later when I was able to catch my breath and turned around to take a sip of coffee, only to see an empty cup holder. The look on my face was probably horrified as my heart sank when I realized I’d left my coffee in my vehicle. Coffee is my lifeblood and there was no way I’d be able to survive hours without it.
Inspiration struck as I remembered a friend/past assistant may still be on the festival grounds.
I called her and pleaded my case for her to bring me coffee. I was so thankful that I gave her a tip more than the cost of the coffee and threw in a candle for good measure.
I bantered with Granpa Cratchet, was amused by the many trips Mike Hemmelgarn made back and forth from one stage to the other and was truly entertained during down time watching people trying to figure out how to get water from the portable sink across the street from my booth. It had a foot pump and you had to really pump it to get the water running. Then, when they ran out of paper towels; I could’ve made a fortune selling them to those shaking their hands dry.
SATURDAY was a super busy day and Deb came back out to help. We parked in the vendor parking several blocks away and I dragged the wheeled bag that houses the tent to the booth so it would be there the next day to be packed up.
Regular readers might recall that I was in a disabling accident 13 years ago, leaving me with chronic severe back pain. On top of that, three weeks ago I broke a toe, so I was hobbling around. Deb has had shoulder and neck pain and surgery, so the two of us carrying stuff for blocks was, I’m sure, a site to behold. There is a horse-drawn shuttle, but it was going the wrong way to help us.
After a productive day my relief came and we left our stuff at the booth and went for a bite to eat. While I took more photos and chatted up more visitors for my News story, Deb was grabbing food to take home to her hubby and I asked her to get me an apple dumpling for later — no ice cream.
I packed up my personal stuff and we stopped at the vendor who baled mini straw bales on the spot and Deb bought us each a decorated bale. I bumped into her and the “no ice cream” dumpling leaked vanilla ice cream all over her black sweater and scarf. She was so discombobulated she almost forgot to pay the nice man.
WE WERE BOTH tired and both hurting as we wound our way through the crowded food court and up the sidewalk to the train tracks. I got “punchy” as what I’ve started to refer to as “my writer’s imagination” kicked in. I thought about how I must look — pulling a shopping cart loaded with items like a pillow (for my back), a stool (for my back), Deb’s coffee carafe and other things while wearing three jackets so as not to have to carry them.
“I look like a homeless person,” I said, giggling.
“You do!” Deb agreed.
No disrespect intended at all to the plight of those truly homeless, but thinking of the contents of my cart got my creative juices flowing. I started my writing career as a fiction writer, after all. After that, everything seemed funny.
The police officer saying in to his radio, “We have a westbound” was hilarious as I struggled to get over the tracks and not get stuck before the Westbound arrived. Another burst of giggling ensued as the oh-so-helpful shuttle passed us again — going the opposite direction.
WE FINALLY made it back to my vehicle and collapsed into the seats. I drove around the corner and was stopped at the Jackson Street tracks by an eastbound train.
“An Eastbound — we just had a Westbound!” I yelled, “Don’t these trains know I have to get home to meet a deadline?”
Despite the trains, I made it home to make the deadline and close the books on another successful festival.
Denise Fedorow is a correspondent and columnist for The Goshen News. Her column appears every other week.