A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 085

Gabby follows in Long John's footsteps

Farmington's 6th Annual Hay Day, a municipally encouraged period of unbridled merry-making, of piquant bizarreness, of mad-cappery interfacing dignified pageant, of...(Get on with it, for Pete's sake - Ed.) is coming right up. Saturday, Aug. 22, from 9:30 a.m. onwards. (Sorry. Out of practice. Will try to do better. - J.N.)

Already the eye of the discerning citizen may have caught a glimpse of poster, brochure or banner heralding the approaching imbroglio. Perhaps wiser readers have even snapped up one of the limited supply of ballcaps sporting the logo of a gentleman pursuing a lady with a pitchfork. Before the air is rent with the screams of outraged feminists, I should add that on last year's shirts, the roles were reversed, and on next year's they will kiss and make up.

Meanwhile, Stuart Pease's Village Bouquet and Greenery window is host to an array of Hay Day appurtenances and to Archie Corson's hat, while overhead, wooden signs swing crazily in the breeze, occasionally dropping on the unwary, like ripe chestnuts.

The first pale streaks of celebration creep into the evening sky on Friday, Aug. 21,  with a concert in Fernald Park given by the Pease Air Force Band, and as this draws to a close around 8:30 p.m. the first fans, equipped with sleeping bags and thermos flasks, are expected to doss down in the bank parking lot in order to get a good spot for viewing Robert Parrish, the renowned Boston Celtic, on Saturday afternoon. Yes, sirree! This is a basketball town.

Hay Day will commence at 5 a.m., with the traditional Watering of the Woman's Club Flower Pot by Betty Mros, followed, at 8 a.m. by the Chalking of the Tires performed, as ever, by Brownie. The hour of 10 a.m. will witness the start of the Dog Gymkhana featuring Ignore the Cat. This year, the honored judge will be none other that Mr. Elliot of Cape Cod, who co-invented this unique contest during a bout of intoxication with yours truly in 1979. Adding to the tension on this occasion will be the possibility of a guerilla attack from the Goodwin Library bushes by forces belonging to Strafford County Kennel Club.

Also, at this time, adding immeasurably to one's impression of visiting a Casbah, the booths and concession stands open, and horseshoes start whizzing around Fernald Park. By 11 a.m. entire posses of Young Bill Hickocks and Little Annie Oakleys should be gathered for the costume judging, in keeping with the 1987 theme - the Old West. To underscore the western mood, throughout the day over the public address system will come the haunting strains of Roy Rogers and the Tumbling Tumbleweeds yodelling evergreen favorites...and a further reminder will come at 12:45 p.m. when 25 Gabby Hayes will line up for the start of the Gold Rush down main street.

This fascinating race will feature many of Farmington's most famous citizens including Basketball Boulay, Jeannie B.-Bop, Delectable Blais, and the jogger who was pursued by a herd of cows - Judge Whittum. On their tortuous trail down Main Street the Gabbys will have to gobble a plate of beans, rope a two-headed steer, drink a sarsaparilla, dance a saloon girl, give a 10-second yodel, and finally pan for gold in a water tank outside Vinnie's Pizza. Apart from a gray beard, cow-puncher's hat, lasso and western duds, some Gabbys are eligible to wear a parrot on the shoulder, as an indication of having survived last year's Long John Silver Agon...surely an even greater badge of courage than an Ollie North medal. Whoa, there, ball cap persons, maybe I'm wrong.

Immediately after this farrago, Robert Parrish will be launched upon a sea of expectant fans and may give a speech or say Hi! Then, it is hoped, he will pop three-pointers into the basketball hop that the FNS Bank has erected for the convenience of customers awaiting their turn at the drive-up window. Yup! Did I mention this is a basketball town?

 In the weeks of planning leading up to Hay Day, much thought has been given to moving Robert Parrish, all 7' 0" of him, through the crowds from point to point. Policemen and 24 basketball players have been considered, and the final plan is still under wraps. Not adopted, however, was my helpful suggestion of an eight-foot roll of carpet. Hmm. Perhaps Freddy Olson's donkey may yet play an important role. Whoa, there, ball caps.

Sketched into Robert's itinerary is a visit to Davidson Instrument Panel's western saloon, the Puddledock Palace, equipped with Dancing Girls, Honkey-tonk piano player, Gambling Wheel (courtesy of the Lions) and a Lady Wrestler with a Snake. The award-winning locomotive, the Puddledock Express, has also been redesigned to accommodate the big fella for a spin through the town.

Earlier in the day the train will chug to several locations, pick up senior citizens and bring them to the celebrations. One such stop will be at Hattie's Place. Coordinator Dan Livernois called up the home to ensure that there was sufficient space in the yard to permit the train to turn.

"You'll have to drive over the lawn, and hope the septic tank don't give way," Dan was told, bringing to mind Woody Guthrie's lines:

"In the misty crystal glitter of the wild and windswept spray

Man fought the pounding waters, and met a watery grave..."

During the course of Hay Day, amid the chicken and the Basketball hoopla, right at the Hay Wagon, people will have their final chance to vote for the Ugliest Person in Town. This year's finalists are indeed a worthy bunch. There is Paul Turner who got ugly after being bitten on the posterior by a dog whilst running; George Kourkounas who got ugly during a Variety Show rehearsal but was okay on the night; Norman Barrett who gets ugly when it's his turn to dress the shop window; and Ronnie Dumont, owner of Dumontskees (formerly Kristies) and the Kennedy Painting, whose patrons dare not to get him ugly on account of his 7' 0" biceps.

Speaking of the Famous Kennedy Painting, incidentally, I looked up from a meal at Spinale's in Milton recently to be greeted by the horrific specter of an imposter Kennedy Painting taking up wall space. Ugghh! Off with its head!

Back at Hay Day, after the 2 p.m. parade featuring the Sanford Marching Band, comes the 3 p.m. Bed Race, bigger than ever in 1987, according to organizer Stuart Pease. One of the 1986's highlights was Stuart attempting, single-handedly, to hold back 2,000 people and allow a clear passage for the hurtling contraptions. This year, his task will be somewhat easier, with 300 feet of Main Street roped off...on the other hand, 5,000 people may storm Checkpoint 2, the Basketball Hoop, where Robert Parrish will judge the allotted task.

If things get a wee bit hectic downtown, take a train ride (only 50 cents) to Fernald Park, where a variety of live bands will be on stage for the entire day. Put together by Jonathon Sindorf, the music will include 60s rock, gospel, blues, folk, country, reggae and pop/jazz fusion, whatever that may be.

And to close the evening, now that the fireworks have been postponed for a year, there will be a contra dance in the Town Hall. This has absolutely no connection with Nicaragua, but is an old-time dance featuring the renowned Lamprey River Band their caller. Tickets, of which there are a limited supply, will be on sale at $2 each.

Lots of question are yet to be answered. Only on Hay Day will all be revealed. For example, will Mr. Lefty Lee show up in his Performing Jacket to accompany the Gabby Hayes yodelers. While he is no longer pursued by Alterations by Doris, there is the trifling matter of four breakfasts from Dumontskees, bought in December 1986 to celebrate the homecoming of the Coat, and as yet unpaid. Will Big Dan remain Sheaf Chief? Will any member of the public solve the Quiz, with business people disguised in anagrams like "Lust under turf" and "Ye odd corn hog?"

Oh, the tension! Can't ya just hardly wait?

For further details, information and exceeding stupid remarks, call 755-2405.

Aug. 18, 1987

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