Monday, August 5, 2013

A Small Town Birthday

It happened that our visit to Cloud this weekend coincided with our little town’s 200th birthday.

And the annual summer festival was going on in the park in the town’s center. There was live music – three old-school hippies, doing decent covers of rock classics, a French fry stand and another that sold strawberry and peach shortcake, several craft booths, some amusements for the little kids: one of those huge, inflated rooms they can bounce around in, a trailer with several target games, face painting, etc. A retiree with a collection of rocks and minerals moved about with great enthusiasm, shining a blacklight over some of his samples to demonstrate their florescence. And there were boths representing the volunteer Fire department, the local utility company, and a hamburger and hot dog booth run by the town’s charitable organization. 
The best part was the Parade on Sunday afternoon. I guess I lost interest in big city parades, with their huge floats and bands and over production, when I was still a kid. But this had an entirely different feel. It was local, community event, and personal to so many of those involved. It was a village coming out to celebrate itself. A couple of hundred souls standing along one side of the park, cheering and waving at another hundred or so of their number marching and driving by, smiling and throwing candy as they passed. A major product of Prattsburg is corn, and a big part of the parade was a procession of vintage farm equipment.

I haven’t absorbed much of the history of Prattsburg yet, except that it was named for a settler by the name of Pratt. There’s lots of corn grown all around, a few small and middle sized lumber operations, and some sheep farming. A natural gas company has pipes threading through the area, and there are a few “No Fracking” signs about, but it seems that gas harvesting activity is drying up hereabouts.

We got a couple of interesting bits about nearby towns, though. Naples, which is the artsiest and most touristy of the local burgs, used to be Middletown, because it lie halfway between Bath and Cornell on the stagecoach route. And last year, Hammondsport was named “the Coolest small town in America”.

It was fun taking part in this small town celebration. As Ponczka remarked, it felt like taking a trip back in time. My one regret – I missed the Pie-eating contest Saturday morning.

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