Monday, May 8, 2017

Events On My Birthday 2017

The Market Street Festival, Columbus, Mississippi...

I got up around 4 a.m. on my birthday to witness the last day of my 69th year, the day when the odometer turns to exactly 69 years, 0 months, 0 days, and then at midnight becomes 69.0.1 (69 years and one day...69 years and 2 days). You know the countdown here. Kids know it when you ask them how old they are: "I'm six and a half!" On days like this, I like to think about my parents and how old they were when I was 40 or 50—and Heaven forbid—how many years I have left if I die at my mother's age or my father's age, or for all that will I outlive my longest lived aunt or uncle or be among those who died relatively young? I'm sure a life insurance agent could pinpoint my death day to the nearest month and year, but I'm not interested. I like to see for myself, and NO, I don't dwell on how long I will live or how soon I will die, but on birthdays, this inevitably comes up for review.

On my birthdays, however, I also like to anticipate the day ahead and plan how I will spend my "special" day, which of course I probably share with millions of people around the world, because they were born on the exact day and month and year that I was.

So, I got up before dawn, got my girls fed, turned on my computer to see what was going on in the world, showered and shaved, and then I anticipated the 22nd Annual Market Street Festival here in Columbus. By about ten o'clock, I could see that the day was going to be perfect with sunny skies, just a slight breeze, low humidity, at a maximum temperature of just 74 degrees. This time of year, as well, everything is green and lush and homeowners have been mowing their lawns, so the walk to downtown was stunning and lovely.

This is from an earlier festival, but it's typical of what
I saw.
Market Street Festival has been named a Top 20 Event in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society for 20 years. A crowd of nearly 40,000 gathers each year to enjoy the two-day festival and offers over 250 arts, crafts, and food vendors, as well as dozens of special events, musical acts, and activities throughout the festival. Considering that Columbus is only around 24,000 people, it's easy to see that the festival gets thousands of out-of-town visitors for the event, as well. There were over a dozen musical groups performing around the area during the two days of the festival, including two groups at the Riverwalk, just west of downtown.

The downtown grid that was laid out for the festival included twelve square blocks, and the street nearest my house where I entered the festival area was only two blocks west and one block north. I entered there, and the first thing I saw was the train, which at first I thought was a kiddy ride, but there were adults getting on board. The crowds were not yet evident...

I wandered the familiar downtown streets where the festival was underway, around eleven o'clock, and I was surprised to see that every street was filled with people from sidewalk to sidewalk, filling the street, along with the hundreds of vendors with everything from food to arts and crafts to book stalls, home remedies, and even a stall that specialized in creating exotic birds out of old tires. That they were old tires was not evident until I got up close and felt of them.

One of my goals was to get a piece of cake for my birthday at the Cafe on Main. I had seen previously that chocolate Coca-Cola cake was on the menu—a more perfect cake is hard to imagine, unless it was my mother's white cake with chocolate fudge icing. Just because the festival was mainly outdoors didn't mean that people stayed on the streets. When I walked into the cafe, virtually every table was full and those that weren't were still dirty from the previous customer. It took awhile, but I did get served. I had chicken spaghetti, candied yams, lima beans, jalapeƱo cornbread, and my cake and coffee. I sang "Happy Birthday" to me under my breath when it was time to dig into the cake (hehehe), even though the whole idea of my needing to sing to myself and celebrate my birthday was tongue-in-cheek, because I don't really feel it's necessary to celebrate my birthday. Now the day the odometer turns over to 70.0.0...yeah, that will be a milestone.

As I continued to walk from one street to the next, all filled with people, the smell of the typical food wafted through the air and as I walked from street to street where performance stages were set up, one song diminished and another came into hearing range. I took time to listen to a set performed by Rachel McCann and the Carnal Echo on 5th Street South, just around the corner from where last year I had attended the annual Stella Shouting Contest.

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