October 3, 2009

Apple Festival

Writing about the fact that we spend much of our time visiting beautiful places, but never take the time to see them as tourists, made us (well, me) decide today needed to be different. We needed to explore. Especially because it doesn't look like our next weather window will be arriving for a few more days...

When I told Ev and Maia that the other options for the day included trouble shooting the broken autopilot (In Sidney we made a last minute purchase of a new unit after spending the summer fighting with the one we had, but we still have to repair the original), sorting out why the diesel is burning too much oil (may be from that time we sunk the hull…), or doing a general boat clean - taking public transit for an hour to Fortuna, for the annual apple festival, won.

Fortuna is a small town; nestled amidst a number of other small towns, in an area the California tourism people have dubbed ‘the lost coast’. And, as we strolled down main street Fortuna, taking in the beanbag toss, the jumble sales and the pie baking and Dutch oven contests (still uncertain what this was…) we realized we were at an authentic small town celebration and definitely not at an experience developed for tourists.

 Actually, I realized it wasn’t a tourist event when one of the organizers expressed shock that a visitor all the way from Canada had heard about Fortuna’s festival. “Sometimes people come from as far as Eureka,” he said “but we don’t tend to get the tourists.”

 The focus of the festival was the local cidery – which was celebrating its 100th anniversary (it even has a few original old trees). I have a thing for heritage apples, it grew out of my discovery of the old orchards in BC’s Gulf Islands (which blossomed into several articles on the topic) so anytime I get to eat an apple from a really old tree I’m pretty much sold on the outing.

The other thing that made me decide that Fortuna was worth an hour’s ride (each way) on public transit was the promise of hay rides.

Sadly, hayrides are like hot air balloon rides – they are far more exciting to contemplate than take. Our hayride consisted of a few bales stacked on a flatbed and pulled through city traffic by a tractor that seemed to be lacking a clutch (or something rather important) past the mall and out to the orchard where we drove past apple trees and ate apples.

 It’s easy to be sarcastic when faced with a sweetly hopeful small town event, to mock the church ladies selling their cute little hand-crocheted doggie smocks, to poke fun at the egg smash game and at the local museum, which boasts a display of over 400 types of barbed wire. But despite the fact we came from somewhere else, knew no one and were at a local event for local people, we were welcomed warmly.

 And for a moment, when I chatted with the antique store lady and eavesdropped on a conversation between Joy and Linda about Clare’s daughter who was pregnant with twins, again and would need everyone’s help, I wondered what it would be like to live in a little town where someone called Anna won both 1st and 3rd place in the pie baking contest and where people celebrate 100-year-old apple trees with pulled pork sandwiches.

I wondered what it would feel like to belong.

1 comment:

boatbaby said...

You always told me Vancouver gave you that feeling and that;s why you keep going back to the BC nest. Big city ideas with a small town heart. Love the barbed wire. You guys DO need need to get out more. Enjoy!