Into The Valley Of The Mallee

Herald Sun

During WWII, Australia, like many countries, forced citizens to ration supplies. While fuel was rationed, wood was not, so these Australians used all manner of buggy to tote mallee root home. Never heard of mallee root? Well, it’s the rootstock of a mallee tree, of the genus Eucalyptus, which we’ve all heard of, because we picture koalas snug in their branches. And you probably have zero where you live. But Down Under, it was used to burn, like charcoal. Not a pretty sight, but functional.

Four springs ago, a competition was held for biggest mallee root, and this entry from Tooleybuc (a glorious name) was just shy of winning. However, it was more photogenic than the winner, so please enjoy what appears to be a sports bra hanging from its upper root.

But mallee isn’t just for drying skivvies. No indeed. At the mallee root festival in Ouyen, guests witness root tossing competitions. Whoever throws a 9 kilo (nearly 20 lb) stump the furthest, wins. I suppose when they’re done, they can simply set fire to all the mallee and be done with it.

And if you were lucky enough to win the event’s root lotto, you could later enjoy the evening in the honeymoon suite at the Patchewollock Pub. Who knew pubs had suites? Well, this one even has murals.

Their Facebook site reads like another language:

The Dry and Flynn Gurry this Saturday night… Fairy floss and snacks available. Enter paddock next to the pub via Federation Street near the truck stage.”

Pardon me?

$5 To Ride Around In Circles

We attended a local festival this weekend with the typical overpriced $18 afternoon “unlimited ride” band that only applied to several rides and did not include the $7 bouncy jumpy rope thing that we passed with seething resentment. It also did not include any games, many of which were $5 for three tries (at darts or hitting the sledgehammer, etc). We did pony up $4 for berry lemonade, but not $7 for funnel cake. And certainly not $5 for a pony ride.

How about you? Would you pony up for a pony? Or would you rather spend that money on a camel ride? A pair of camels split the shift. This one was on break but still suited up.

This was the shortest line we saw of the dozens of fairground lines.

I guess riding a camel isn’t quite as exciting as Pharaoh’s Fury or the Zipper (from which 99% of the ride screams came). And I doubt it’s on anyone’s bucket list. But at least you can say you did it once.

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The Poor Man’s Six Flags

Wright Co Fair, Missouri 90
Wright Co Fair, Missouri 90

Today I showcase a fascinating assortment of another favorite picture book of mine, In Search of the Corn Queen.  In it, Greta Pratt shares pictures of various county fairs in the American Midwest.  Some are hopeful; some are hopeless.  But all are a window into small town celebration.

This one gives me a glimpse of that adolescent excitement over what could be, with the whole world laid out before you, an endless possibility.

Osage Indian Heritage Festival, Missouri 88
Osage Indian Heritage Festival, Missouri 88

Like I said, boy, all you gotta do is pop 10 balloons to win those skateboards on the wall.  It’s a piece of cake.  Would I steer you wrong?

Hickory Co Fair, Missouri 90
Hickory Co Fair, Missouri 90

Drench the volleyball coach!

Stover Summer Festival, Missouri 88
Stover Summer Festival, Missouri 88

Dang, I thought I was hot, but she’ll totally be hotter than me in ten years, when I’m like, ancient or something. 

Johnson Co Peach Fest, Arkansas 90
Johnson Co Peach Fest, Arkansas 90

I learned it from watching you, Dad.

Johnson Co Peach Fest, Ark 90
Johnson Co Peach Fest, Ark 90

No, that’s cool.  You just sit in your overalls on the tailgate, and I’ll hold our wriggling young’un and try to down this cup of Mad Dog before I get pregnant again.

  

Cheatham Co Fair, TN 90
Cheatham Co Fair, TN 90

High point of the afternoon; winning bundt cake in the last round of the cake walk.

Spring Fest, ARK 90
Spring Fest, ARK 90

Good clean fun or a gateway to Spring Break mud wrestling?

Platte Co Fair, Wyoming 89
Platte Co Fair, Wyoming 89

Two tickets for a dollar, six tickets per ride, means three dollars for the ferris wheel, or I could just blow it all on a Fanta and funnel cake.  What to do?  What to do?

Obion County Fair, TN 1990
Obion County Fair, TN 1990

No, I am absolutely not living vicariously through my grandbaby. 

Bates Co Fair, Missouri 90
Bates Co Fair, Missouri 90

Oh, yeah, life goes on.  Long after the thrill of living is gone. 

Stickney Centrennial, South Dakota 89
Stickney Centennial, South Dakota 89