Stevens Point in Wisconsin has a cultural festival every year, and it just so happened to fall on a weekend I was there, so I decided to attend. I wasn’t particularly interested in going to the festival — I never quite know what to do once I get to such events — but I figured it would give me something to blog about. (Would you be surprised and appalled to know that I often do things simply for the sake of a blog post? But hey . . . it gets me there, doesn’t it?)
I wandered about for a bit, not really getting into the spirit of the thing. It was hard being among all those people by myself. I don’t enjoy shopping, and I wasn’t hungry, and with no one to exclaim over the offerings with me, there was no way to ramp up my excitement.
But then I realized another reason why the various booths didn’t seem out of the ordinary — this whole trip for me has been a cultural festival. I’ve been to a Greek restaurant in a Greek village in Florida. I was welcomed into a Jewish home for Passover. A friend of a friend cooked a Russian feast for me in Texas. I’ve been to Chinese buffets, French bistros, Italian trattorias, German restaurants, Mexican and Cuban restaurants, southern barbecue houses. I’ve eaten Polish food and Welsh dishes and sampled all sorts of regional goodies as I’ve zigzagged across the United States. I’ve also been to vast grocery stores that mimic European markets.
Still, I squelched the urge to leave the festival. I figured I needed to walk an hour anyway, so why not walk around the festival? And so I listened to a guy playing the mournful bagpipes, and a mournful fellow playing the accordion. I watched practiced dance performances and unpracticed dancers having fun. Despite the people crowded around the booths, I managed to see a lot of the products for sale. In particular, a green glass bird Christmas ornament that caught my eye, but I am so out of the habit of purchasing knickknacks that I never even considered buying it.
And so, as it turned out, the hour I spent walking around the festival was a good one.
And besides, as you can see, I got a blog post out of the experience.
(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)