Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Riley Festival, in all it’s glory (?!?), is just around the corner…………….BOO!

Good progess today on the maple leaf mosaic. This has to be finished and photographed to submit to Mapletone Gallery’s exhibit on or before October 18 (before would be really cool!).

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I wouldn’t be concerned about it normally, but with the Riley Festival coming up, I will lose about a week – four days of 12 hour days, a day to prepare, and a couple to recuperate. The gallery will be open and staging live painting demos and work on the community mosaic all weekend.

If you love the Riley Festival and consider it the patriotic duty of all Hoosiers to worship at the altar of James Whitcomb Riley, avert your eyes now. Not because I don’t like it, but because I see it from a different perspective that some consider…………cynical.

For those of you who aren’t from Indiana, the Riley Festival is a four day orgy of elephant ears and bratwurst. Elephant ears, for the uninitiated, are fried dough, slathered in some unidentifiable butter flavored grease and then thickly covered in cinnamon sugar. Brats need no introduction.

Secondary only to the intestine clogging culinary experience is the celebration of James Whitcomb Riley and his reputation as the “Hoosier Poet”. Creator of Little Orphan Annie, the Raggedy Man, and the “gobble-uns” that’ll “git you ef you don’t watch out!” Riley was born and raised in Greenfield. Riley and I have a long and sordid history, beginning on the day I was born, which my mother had the gall to allow to happen on his birthday. But that’s a story for another day.

Oh, and there are crafts. Hundreds of 10’ X 10’ tents housing every imaginable craft known to man. And the occasional few that defy definition. But of course, if you don’t really like crafts, there is the flea market area - filled with monstrous quantities of imported crap. And a small section devoted to fine arts, although I’m a little stumped as to how crocheted dishcloths fit into that category.

If anyone wants to really understand the Riley Festival phenomenon, I highly recommend that you read David Foster Wallace’s essay on the Illinois State Fair in the book A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. Although the Riley Festival has no rides and is certainly on a much smaller scale, the anthropological study that is Wallace’s essay is spot on. Really. Read it.

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