I’ve been pretty scarce lately, for many reasons. There’s plenty of stress right now, between multiple jobs and my personal life. However, there’s been plenty of good! I’ll have to devote a pretty big chunk of time to catching you guys up once I have some.
Last week was the Kankakee County Fair. As a former 4-H county officer, the fair was a time I dropped everything to mix work and play. I used to get no sleep during the fair, and would spend just as much time working hard as I did enjoying myself. It was usually fun, but this year was different. Aging out of 4-H meant I got to actually enjoy the fair as most people do. I came for a few livestock shows, enjoyed some fried food, and watched some of the grandstand attractions. I DID get to spend a little time enjoying some real-life agvocate efforts, too!
This week is the Gladiolus Festival. In my hometown of Momence, IL, we have this festival every year during the second weekend in August. (It’s always the week after fair, which means I am one busy girl during August!) Now, I know it sounds like a festival devoted to a tall, stalk-like flower isn’t very agricultural…but, it is! (As a past Gladiolus Queen runner-up, I had to learn this stuff!)
Northern Illinois used to be a leading grower of Gladiolas. (Note: a single flower is a “Gladiolus flower” or a “Gladiola.” In the plural, they are “Gladiolas” or “Gladiolus flowers.” You have a Gladiola, or some Gladiolas. The flowers, as a group, are known as the “Gladiolus” group. Isn’t the English language fun?!) Generally, we just refer to them as “glads.” I love glads, they’re my favorite flower, for sentimental and aesthetic reasons.
Because of the prominence of glads as a leading local agricultural product, the festival began in 1938. In 1939, the Glad Fest Association formed to better facilitate planning and organization of the festival. While land devoted to glad growing did shrink over time, the festival has remained fairly strong. (One local girl even said, “Glad Fest is better than Christmas!”)
Glad Fest is deeply sentimental to my family. Daddy was the Vice President of the Glad Fest Assocation, and I spent many summers as a kid doing hard physical work to prepare the town for this wonderful event. Knowing how much work goes into something like this has made it only more special to me.
I mean, I’ve had a blessed view of the Glad Fest for my entire life. I have never not been in a Glad Fest parade, since birth. Last year, I got to be Cinderella on a float entitled “Dreams Come True in Gladland.” Farmboy was even dressed as Prince Charming, pulling the float on his antique tractor. This year, we’re “Boot Scootin’ to Gladland,” complete with a float decorated like a saloon. I’m marched with honor guards and marching bands. I’ve ridden on floats galore. I’ve gotten advance admission to the carnival. For several years, I got to experience my favorite time of year, as an insider!
Aren’t festivals with obscure, long-lost ties to agriculture AWESOME?!