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The Homegrown Gazette – Big Barn Burns!

barn-burning-william-faulknerBig Barn Burns by Homegrown Gazette feature writer: Howard I. Know

Back home we have the “Burning Of The Barn” festival.

It all started the year the cow kicked over the lantern in Fred Barnfarthey’s barn.  All the neighbors started gathering when they saw the smoke and somebody on the way home from the general store had hot dogs so they pulled them out to provide nourishment for the bucket brigade since the fire truck back in Sharpsville wouldn’t start. Somebody ran home for mustard and pretty soon everybody was bringing in all kids of food. Then somebody started pitching a ball to pass the time while the barn simmered, then somebody late that night got the idea of having a hymn sing around the smoldering hay. Well thee days later somebody said, “Hey this was fun, lets do it again next year.”  So ever since then come May we burn down somebody’s barn, and eventually we called it the “Burning of the Barn Festival.”

We are unique, we’re not just yer average run of the mill festival.  For instance, one of our big attractions is the pitch fork catching contest.  Contestants are judges on height, distance and length of laceration.  Last year Little Earl Telletall won the contest, he’s the mayors son. Talk is political connections made the difference, but that’s always true in pitchfork tossing.

We have bobbing for bowling balls.  You have to have good suction to win this on. Last year it was won by Tillie Telletall, the Mayors daughter.  She has a big mouth and a way with bowling balls. For the five year olds and younger we have the tricycle demolition derby.

Most events have a tractor pull, well we have a tractor pushing contest, our twist is the fact it’s for ladies only. Won by Unice Teletall, the mayors wife.  She just gave it one of her looks and the tractor moved itself over the finish line. Course we had to repaint it, but is was worth it.

Most festivals have a watermelon seed spiting contest, well we developed that concept a little farther.  We have the watermelon spit and catch contest. Oh ya, people come from miles around to see that one.  There’s nothin’ like a 30 pound ball of watermelon guts nixed with a big wad of spit hitting a face full speed at thirty paces.   Now that is entertainment.  The perennial winner of that contest is Bula (Big Mouth) Teletall, the Mayor mother.

The town isn’t too big, only a hundred and forty three people, so everybody is on the committee. Ya goch yer  finance committee, ya gotch yer  entertainment committee, ya gotch yer games committee and of course there’s the “Last glowing embers committee.”  They are in charge of deciding who’s barn gets burned to start the festival.  Not a popular position, but one that needs filling.  It you don’t make a sizeable contribution to the festival coffers you can bet your barn will be on the potential donor list for next year.  They also decide how the barn will be lit. You know the year they started the olympics with the flaming arrow.  Where do you think they got that idea?

We do give people time to get their animals out of the barn.  Speaking of hot pigs, one year Bill Barnfathy mistakenly bought Viagra, which sounds a lot like Viagratone. He ordered and feed twelve hundred pounds of Viagra to his pigs.  The next morning you wouldn’t believe the sight.  There were pigs stuck on fence posts, pigs stuck on trees, there were pigs on pigs and even pigs on sheep.  Bill was scared to come outside. Now this has nothing to do with the festival, but in did spawn (sorry, no pun intended) the idea of having a hog roast. So we always have a big hog roast.  We put a hog in a tux and set him up next to the speaker podium and then 40 or so people parade through for a hour or so and make fun of him.  Last year the hog got to laughing so hard he shot slop right through his nose.

For the five to ten year olds we bring in a gator from Florida and have alligator wrestling.  Oh, ya.  Helps keep the class sizes down in fifth and six grades down at the elementary. Ya, we’re real education conscious.  At the end of the fair we have a big gator wrestle off and the winner gets the gator, unless the gator goes undefeated. Last year the gator wrestle off was won by Bubba and Sissy Telletall, the mayor’s niece and nephew. Those are two mean kids I’m tellen ya.

We have the hot steaming cow pie toss. One year we tried tying a bucket to people chest and you had to toss the chip into the bucket, move back three paces and toss it back to your partner. It gave new meaning to the term bank shot.  Now this is good, clean family entertainment.  Last year it was won by Thelma Teleall, the mayors sister, primarily because you couldn’t tell the difference between her and the cow pie.  No matter how much we wiped off her face she still looked like a cow pie to us.

And we do cow tipping.  A big sport with the young bucks.  You sneak up on the cow, ram her as hard as you can at full speed and try to tip her over.  Last year it didn’t go so good.  Ya, well the cow, unbeknowst to the cow tipping committee had a bad case of constipation. Hadn’t dropped a pie in going on three weeks.  Well, Fred Johnson (the Mayors adopted son) is a big kid, plays tackle on the football team.  He took a running start, hit the cow right broad side and something jarred loose. Now we’re not sure what that someth’n was, but she let loose, totally loose right there, yep.  Oh it was a sight. Have you head of the phrase, “They didn’t know what hit them.”  We had to transport the whole audience down to the fire house and hose them off.  From now on we’re using a cork as a safety measure, a decision passed unanimously by the cow tipping committee soon after the incident.

Then we have cow chip bingo. We spay paint squares on the ground and number them, then people bet where the chip will land when the cow goes to the bathroom. Winner takes all.  Well, unbeknowst to the cow bingo committee, the cow had a bad case of the runs. Oh ya. It went all over the place. Everybody won. Nearly broke us.

And, we have a queen contest, for the honor of becoming Miss Fire Hydrant.  We look for a short stocky girl with nice plugs and a lot of drooling goes a long way with the judges.  We also look for intelligence, every year they have to write an essay on; “Your favorite fire hose and you.”   It’s very educational for the girls.

Last year our big music group was the Electric Amish. The played they’re new hit,  “I got the blackout blues.”  If you play it backwards you can hear a voice saying, “Get a telephone.”  It’s real cutting edge out on the farm. It didn’t sell big though. Their record company was Outhouse Records, where the music is as good as it smells and every record has two holes.

We have some great carnival rides we bring in.  There’s the bun buster, the barf-o-wheel, and my favorite the puke-o-tilt. It’s the American way to have fun and pay good money to do it too.

Every year we build the festival a little bigger and little better.  Next year we hope to finish the needle in the haystack contest we started by in 1972. Check our press release prepared by Gloria Gladgossip our Homegrown Gazette editor and first cousin, by marriage, to Mayor Telletall.

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Sam is a businessman, writer, entertainer, speaker, husband, father to six children, grandfather and great grandfather. Sam graduated from Huntington University with a B.A. in phychology and drama and pursued a degree in Broadcasting from Illinois Central College with graduate level studies at Christian Leadership University. Sam is the creator of Granpa Cratchet, one of the most successful touring shows in the history of the live events industry. Millions of people see Granpa every year all across the United States at fairs and festivals. His characters have appeared on every major network: Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, The Today Show (4 times). Sam and his characters have made over 500 local appearances and on all the major networks; NBC, CBS, ABC, ESPN, PBN, The LeSea Network, The PTL Network and Praise the Lord. They currently appear all around the world every week on YouTube and Facebook, and on several satellite networks via the Kidz Television Network and The Captain Hook (children's) Show.

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