I live in a small town outside the Big City. A town with a real live downtown, neighbors who are known to each other beyond hello, home of the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, host to summer festivals and concerts on the library lawn and Saturday night movies on Main Street. A town tucked into the bluffs of Illinois surrounded by waving fields of cornstalks and the blue-green shimmer of horseradish.
A piece of Americana that believes in celebrating the simple life…. and being Italian (which I’m not)… and having the largest catsup bottle in the world… and this weekend’s celebration???
Yes, it is the weekend of the International Horseradish Festival. Despite hitting 90 degrees by the time I left for the day, the park was packed with people, craft vendors, and food vendors. The root sacking contest was in full force by noon. The bandstand was rocking. There were kids bouncing and bopping each other with every form of inflatable doo-dad known to man. There were two cartoon characters roaming the park dressed in costumes guaranteed to cause a weight loss of gargantuan proportions after just an hour in the sun. The Little Miss Horseradish pageant wasn’t scheduled to start until this evening however, so I missed all the little ones in their finery. The only thing missing this year was the giant horseradish root balloon which floated over the park at one time.
I am not kidding. This is some SERIOUS celebrating!
So why was I there? I’m not even all THAT fond of horseradish! I was there with my church family selling huge slices of watermelon for a quarter and doling out huge portions of smiles, laughter and God’s love for free. We weren’t in it to make money… in fact we lost money on every watermelon we sold. And it was worth every penny to those of us who were there and whose days we touched in some way.
Nope! We were truly celebrating life and His love. A morning well spent.