Saturday, November 21, 2009

Floyd Fandango is Here to Stay

At the first annual Floyd Fandango, an autumnal beer tasting carnivale hosted by the founders of Floyd Fest, my husband and I saw a clown balance a wheelbarrow on his head while juggling sticks. We got advice from a talking crystal ball, rode on a Ferris wheel, drank mead, and ate handmade potato chips. Unfortunately, we had a prior commitment in the evening and could only spend 4 hours at the event. According to the schedule printed in the Fandango pamphlet, we missed a snake charmer, a fire eater, a magic act, and even country rocker Junior Brown, one of the headlined musical performances.

Billed as a two day “Faire, Carnivale and Brewe” our Fandango experience began this past Sunday at 12:30 in the on-site festival parking lot with what in Grateful Dead concert-going circles would be called “a miracle” ticket. I knew I was about to enter a magical space when a woman approached me and said, “Do you need a ticket? We have an extra.” She handed me a ticket and then walked away without a word about re-imbursement. The sun was shining as the wind picked up and billowy clouds rolled by. I tightened the collar of my sage green wool sweater and began the adventure.

I was there for an education in beer, and I got one. Although I love the taste of good wine, I don’t feel well when I drink it, and so I have turned to beer as my designated alcoholic beverage. While visiting friends in Belgium ten years ago, I discovered that I could actually love beer, but the difference between amber and ale was lost on me. In restaurants, I have been known to order “New Balance” (which are sneakers) when I meant to order “New Castle” (a dark but not Guinness dark beer).

With my pen and notepad in hand, and with the help of beer booth attendants, I wrote down the following informal list of beers in descending order from darkest to lightest types: stout, porter, bock, larger, amber, ale, pilsner. This list alone was worth the price of admission, of which I didn’t pay, but there was more adventures to be had at Floyd Fandango.

My husband made me nervous on the top of the Ferris wheel. I can handle heights, but only if everyone involved stays perfectly still. He was flaying his arms about as he talked and pointed out sights below. I managed to gesture to the sign in bold red letters on the back of the seat in front of ours, “Do Not Rock Seat,” as I shrunk down into mine.

Back on the ground, we socialized with old friends and met a few new ones, many of whom wore costumes, whimsical hats, and sported colorful face painting. We browsed the vending booths, which featured everything from pottery and flutes to real estate and tractors. At lunch time, a man sitting at the cafĂ© table next to mine offered to share some of his salami. Two young girls approached us selling cut roses. Such things can happen at a Fandango, of which one dictionary definition defines as “tomfoolery.”

The band, American Dumpster, whose lead singer was described by the Charlottesville Daily this way: “young Bob Dylan’s charisma with Howlin’ Wolf’s voice,” was warming up when I looked at my watch and noticed how late it was getting. We pulled ourselves away.

While walking back to the parking lot, my husband stopped at the Strong Man carnival game. He lifted a giant mallet and let it go, ringing the bell on its top. Apparently he’s a he-man, but there was no time for him to receive his awarded prize. We held hands as we continued walking reluctantly back to our car. He looked slightly dejected at having to leave the fun behind.

“Cheer up,” I said to him. “We’ll come back again next year.”

Post Notes: For more information about Floyd Fandango, FloydFest and other related festivals go to Check out my Floyd Fest archives HERE. The above was originally posted on on October,24 2006 and appeared in The Floyd Press around that same time.

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