Adventures with Lisa, Frank & Daisy Dewdrop

The Molasses Festival Fairy Tale
September 1, 2006, 4:05 pm
Filed under: My Weekly Column

The time has come for the annual Molasses Festival, and I am sure in the mood for some festivities. With rising gas prices, local flooding, Katrina’s wake in the Gulf, the mayor’s (and Arnoldsburg principal’s) resignations, methamphetamine emergencies and the closure of another murder case, I’ve had enough gloom and doom to last me for a while.

I once read a quote saying, “People don’t want the true and simple. They want fairy tales and humbug.” Well enough humbug, I’m ready for an autumn fairy tale.

Once upon a time, a rural community in Central West Virginia lost public access to local school facilities. Instead of simply accepting the loss, the community took it upon themselves to finance land to provide the amenities they lost–ball courts, meeting space, reunion space, picnicking, play, and fellowship around food and recreation.

They borrowed money together–made a commitment together–putting thoughts of self aside to create a place for the community; a place for all to enjoy. Because of their self-sacrifice, willingness to work hard, and ability to put the cause above any conflict, they succeeded. Their legend lives on in an annual tradition that is still supported (and worked) by following generations who value what has been presented to them as a result.

If that isn’t a fairy tale, I swear I don’t know what is.

You see, I’m one of those people who believes a project will die (or will at least become intolerably complicated) as soon as you form a committee or board. I’ve seen (and have been part of) committees and boards which have really been some of the most torturous experiences of my life.

Typically, when a committee is formed, one of two things happens. Either egos get in the way of purpose, or you get a lot of talk and no action. Either way, committees and boards can be some of the most frustrating and abusive situations to endure.

In my mind, a board or committee which actually chooses a purpose, works consistently and cooperatively toward that purpose, follows through, finishes, and continues . . . Heck, that is a flat out miracle as far as I’m concerned.

There are exceptions. I certainly don’t want to insult any of our park boards, the Senior Citizens board, Historical Society or others who do a fine job in their volunteer positions. I think they too are miracles. Professionals. Almost martyrs at times.

But when I learned the history of the Molasses Festival (and the Ox Roast), I was amazed by the character, work ethic, sense of community, willingness to sacrifice time, courage to “think big,” and ability to cooperatively take on financial risk . . . I just don’t see much of that happening again in my lifetime.

Alas, I suppose that is a humbug frame of mind.

But fairy tales are things of the past. Nostalgic, magical golden tales of days when dreams came true, hard work paid off, and people took care of their own–and “their own” included all those who lived around them.

Fairy tales have princes and princesses, horse-drawn carriages, melodic music on stringed instruments, feasts spread across tables feeding masses, markets full of hand-made or home grown merchandise, games and competitions, and the fellowship of the shared harvest.

Gee, I guess the Molasses Festival really is a fairy tale.


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