Friday, October 06, 2017

Pigging Out at the Banana Festival, Squeal Included

Melinda Palacio

Fulton, Kentucky holds its annual Banana Festival September 9-16
When my friends came to visit Santa Barbara, it was the first time they had seen the Pacific Ocean. It was such a joy showing off my home state to folks from Kentucky, via New Orleans, where they now live. Last year, we went to Arroyo Burro Beach, Santa Barbara, Solvang, San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, and to Hearst Castle. This year, I visited their home town of Fulton, Kentucky, where the Banana Festival takes place every September. The center of the festival takes place in a border town that's known as the Twin Cities of Fulton, Kentucky and South Fulton, Tennessee.

Banana Festival in Twin Cities

You might be wondering why bananas are a big deal in Kentucky and Tennessee? Fulton became known as "The Banana Capital of the World" during the height when the United (Chiquita) Fruit Co. began shipping bananas by ship to to New Orleans, then by rail to Fulton. Fulton had the only ice house on route to Chicago and beyond. 

We stayed in Tennessee at the Pecan Grove Bed & Breakfast in Martin in log cabins that were rustic, but outfitted with wifi and a shower. And since, I was on vacation, I partook in foods I normally avoid, such as homemade waffles, pancakes, pie, sorghum syrup, and biscuits with homemade jam. In other words, I pigged out. Breakfast included eggs, biscuits, pancakes, waffles, sausage, bacon, and country ham. When the proprietor and chef, Clint brought out smoked ribs from a wedding that he catered the day before we arrived, I had some of those too. It was a country smorgasbord the likes I'll probably never see again.  

A breakfast of waffles, biscuits, bacon, eggs, sausage, the Pecan Grove B&B pulled out all the stops. 

I tried the ribs, but missed the sausage with gravy. 

Many of the banana festival activities were things that I might have seen at previous small town festivals, such as the parade, the antique car show, concert, and juried photography show. However, one thing I had never seen was a greased pig contest. Despite my big love for bacon and eating all things pork, I must add that no pigs were harmed in the greased pig contest.

Turn up the volume.

Listening to these little piglets squeal, you would think they are on their way to becoming applewood bacon. They were very wary about being separated from each other and even more put out by having Baby Shampoo squirted all over them. I hear the recent transition to use Baby Shampoo is more gentle and humane than the previous dish soap. I wonder if in days of yore they used bacon grease (this sounds so wrong), since it is called a greased pig contest.

cute little pigs 
 There were several things that the organizers of the contest did to make the pigs' squeal more tolerable. Although the pigs were not being harmed, the squeal was enough to make you turn away. However, I was impressed that with each grouping of children, they brought out different pigs so as to perhaps decrease the amount of mental stress the pigs underwent. After all running from small children who are attempted to grab your hind legs sounds scary no matter what kind of animal you are.
more pigs
The groups pairings were ages Pre-School through first, grades second and third, and grades fourth and fifth. They younger children seemed just as baffled as I was upon first witnessing this contest. Initially, the lady in cut-off overalls, pink pig mask, and a whistle explained to the children that the idea is to grab a pig's back legs. However, many seemed afraid to go near the pigs. The pig's squeal and smell probably didn't help either. I sure wouldn't go near them. I don't care to ever be reminded of their squeal or smell. It didn't help that they tried to rub off the shampoo by rolling in the mud.  This city girl was happy to watch the action from behind the fence.
The youngest children gear up for the contest.

This piglet slipped out of the pig wrangler's hands.
Adults, including my friend Anthony, got involved when a wily pig escaped the corral. 

The girl in pink wins for the older set.


Canceled Panel. Due to Hurricane! 
Updated 10/6/17
This Saturday in New Orleans, pre hurricane, I will be on this panel at the mid city public library. Hope Nate passes by quickly. Panelists include Carolyn Hemree, Stacey Balkun, Gina Ferrara, Melinda Palacio, Andrea Panacea and Poet Laureate Emerita of Louisiana, Julie Kane.


WNBA of New Orleans - Words & Society: Women Poets Resist