Monday, October 12, 2009

Small Town Cultural Review: Covered Bridge Festival

We're starting a new feature here at my blog*. It's called Small Town Cultural Review. Wherein I will review aspects of small town life.

Today's topic: The Covered Bridge Festival.

Jill and I moved to Terre Haute in June of '08. Around September 2008, we started hearing about Covered Bridge Festival. Evidently, it's THE place to be come mid-October. We were thoroughly excoriated and almost shunned when word got out that we did not attend this illustrious social event. Pariahs, we were.

With this deep scar on our social standing**, Jill and I set out on Saturday to remedy this glaring omission in our small town Indiana resume.

The Covered Bridge Festival celebrates the bajillion covered bridges in the Wabash Valley area, especially Parke County. There are bus tours that take you around the county, showing you covered bridges. Having grown up 15 minutes from a covered bridge, and sure of their lack of life-changing majesty and or wonderfulness, we eschewed the tour and made our way to Bridgeton, a tiny town with its own bridge and collection of colorful vendors selling everything from giant ceramic ducks to severed Ronald McDonald heads taken from old school McDonald's drive-thrus.

Exhibit A:

 Additionally, and perhaps more germane to the interest of my reading public (all three of you) would be the collection of various foodstuffs in which one could indulge. Among the varied delicacies offered at this conglomeration of haute cuisine (did you see what I did there?), one could feast upon smoked turkey legs, kettle corn, homemade ice cream, biscuits and gravy, taco pierogies (which I regretfully only discovered after having stuffed myself with other goods) and more.

For my part, I had a mediocre barbecue chicken breast (I believe I could have outdone this pedestrian effort and I've never barbecued in my life). I also had a giant pretzel made by what appeared to be a contingent of Amish ladies. Looking back, I think the Amish persona may have been affected merely to enhance the ambiance of the consumer experience, as they were using a commercial oven to cook said pretzels, and I was under the assumption that the Amish generally tend to forgo the use of modern technology. Never deterred by this anachronistic touch, I foraged on, devouring my chewy and delicious pretzel with gusto. No lie, it stands easily as the second best pretzel I have ever had, denied the top spot by the tiniest of margins by an even larger pretzel that I had at an outlet mall near St. Augustine, FL. That pretzel was ginormous, to use the common parlance. Perhaps there is a correlation between pretzel size and pretzel deliciousness that we may examine at a later point.

The piece de resistance, however, was something that only could have come from the twisted and demented minds of Americans. This delicacy, this tastacular experience, nay, this little piece of heaven was...

Yes. To paraphrase former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green, it is what you thought it was. And crown it we shall.

The most regal of all fair food: a deep fried candy bar. A deep fried 3 Musketeers bar, to be exact. My favorite candy bar. Deep fried. I had heard rumors of such mischievous morsels on TV shows, and had seen them advertised at the county fair this summer, but much like the chupacabra, Sasquatch or the Loch Ness monster, these mythical creatures are hard to find. They were sold out during our day at the fair this past summer, and alas I went without experiencing the rapturous delights that such a treat promises.

But my mouth was not to be denied on this day.

Like a bloodhound on a scared racoon, I tracked my way through the teeming masses and located a vendor whose signage indicated the presence of this wonderful concoction. I made my purchase, and scurried away to find Jill and to share this experience with her. Plus, if it gave me a heart attack, I wanted someone close by to call the ambulance.

As I bit into its chewy outer coating, my tastebuds were gently and lovingly massaged by the sweetness of the melty chocolate contained within this doughy encasement. It was truly heavenly, and proof of a benevolent deity.

Of course, I had to promise Jill that I would only have one of these a year. I'm already a prime candidate for a heart attack- no use adding a 10 gallon can of gasoline to that smoldering fire.

We also bought a bag of kettle corn to take home. I always forget how much I enjoy kettle corn, that bag full of sweet and salty exploded kernels tantalizing and confusing my senses.

Jill and I made short work of the kettle corn. The bag is empty now, a hollow reminder of what once was.

Much like my heart shall remain until next year, when I can once again feast upon that glorious delight known as the deep fried 3 Musketeers bar. If for no other reason than the fact that Covered Bridge Festival finally brought me together with such a wondrous creation, then I must call it a success. I give it 4 coronaries out of 5, losing a point due to the ridiculous number of bees that swarmed us whenever we stopped moving.


*No promises as to the recurring nature of said new feature.
**Not really. No one shunned us. Just told us we should go next year.