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The Pungo Strawberry Festival - 2003
24th May 2003
We missed the Pungo Strawberry Festival last year. Something came up, but now I can't remember, so it can't have been too important. We were thinking about going to the Festival this year, but it's been raining. It rained most of last week, and it was a pretty fair bet that the Festival would consist of a lot of mud. But we went anyway.
Anne wanted to try an experiment, so she took the Princess Anne road. Last few times she's been to Pungo, she went via Indian River Road. The experiment was very successful. The trip was short, there was no line of cars and we were very soon at Pungo. But we screwed up. The problem was we didn't recognise the parking fields and we weren't sure how far away we were from the real action at Pungo. By the time we did realise where we were, we were at the main Pungo intersection, locked in the traffic, and forced onto Indian River Road by the traffic police. A quick trip down Indian River Road showed a huge long line of slow-moving cars, and I got really dispirited and told Anne to just head home. She didn't. We drove a few miles to where we were able to do a U-turn, and then we joined the long, long line of slow-moving cars. The traffic police at the intersection would let dozens of cars from Princess Anne through, but only one or two at a time from the Indian River Road direction.
So we sat in line and we waited and we slowly moved up. We looked at the lovely green swamp beside the road.
Yup, sure looks pretty. Until you look hard and see the massive amounts of garbage in it - the plastic bags, the tins, the bottles, the dumped tyres, the crap thrown from ten thousand cars. We waited and slowly inched ahead, helped by the impatient people who can't stand not travelling at 70 mph everywhere, who did U-turns and left. The road is narrow, and the ditches deep, and we had to laugh at the SUVs and vans who made their nine-point turns trying to escape the line. There was a young couple in an SUV ahead of us, and they started kissing, and then they started cuddling, and then they started getting really serious and when we started yelling 'Book into a motel" they unclinched, did a very clumsy nine-point U-turn and drove away clutching at each other. And then we were behind a car with a pre-teen cheerleader, and she and her brother spent a lot of time dangling out of their car. They only popped out when the car was stationary, but that was an awful lot of the time.
First up were the strawberry fields for the do-it-yourself enthusiasts. Pay $5 and go pick your own strawberries. One year I might be tempted to try this, but for the time being I'll just buy my strawberries pre-picked at the end of the visit.
Munden's on the corner is looking a little bit more rundown.
This time they have a line of Confederate flags. The old South is rising?
The first thing we did when we hit the line of stalls was get strawberry daiquiris. Pleasant enough but nothing to get really excited about.
And Anne wanted to try a funnel cake. This is some form of batter (fat and sugar), that is deep fried (more fat) and sprinkled with icing sugar (more sugar). It tastes like you're eating fat and sugar, so it's quite pleasant to taste.
So at the end are the displays of ducks and other modern war vehicles, plus plenty of fit young men in combat greens and camouflaged faces. Several were seen stuffing chewing tobacco in their mouths and surreptitiously spitting the juice out. They probably aren't allowed to smoke and this was a good, albeit messy, alternative.
The medieval encampment was down there too. I was impressed with this in 2001 and spent a fair bit of time watching the sword-fighting. When we arrived, there was no fighting so I missed that bit of the entertainment. Look at the photos from 2001 near the end of the page, and look at the intense guy doing the fighting. He was back, and we spotted him walking around with his family. He's grown a beard and his hair is longer. Pity we didn't get to see him fighting again, as he's worth watching.
We did stop at the medieval stand and Anne and Evelyn had a good look at the chain mail, while I looked at the home-made weapons. I was also intrigued by the stout gentleman in the Scottish gear.
Anne spotted these barns and insisted I take a photo of them, sort of "rustic scene at Pungo". I reluctantly agreed, but found later that I really liked the scene, so I've included it here.
More evidence of the Old South. Guy in uniform, old flags, a stall with books and mementos.
And then we heard the call for the pig races, so we rushed off to see. We missed them in 2001 but wanted to see them this time. The pig races are staged by a guy who, so he claims, lives in the big van with his wife, his three kids, two dogs, two cats, an iguana and 20 pigs, and travels all over the USA putting on the pig races at fairs and festivals. The van was pretty big, but even so, according to my tastes,that's too many life-forms to pack into one vehicle.
The races started with a rah-rah description of the races. He's a showman, he's good. Just before each race, he called for individual supporters for each pig. He wanted pig-rooters. He asked for pig-rooters and the audience was full of little girls and big girls and women all wildly jumping and down and waving and screaming for the honour of being a pig-rooter. We were in stitches. The Australians will get it.
There were three races. We got introduced to a fresh young crop of wieners who hadn't raced before. They raced. They shot out of the starting post, ripped around the track in seconds and were rewarded at the finish post.
Several minutes later, after plenty of stops for relief, they ambled up to the finish line. You can see by the screaming crowd how exciting this was, how much fun it was. The pig-rooters went into a frenzy, cheering their pigs on.
Anne bought one more hippy dress, and then we headed for the car. When we got to our car park, the guys directing traffic started laughing at the sky. We looked up and started laughing too. Earlier, the plane had been flying around with a Hooters sign, but this took it one stage further. I took three photos, and in two I got the plane but no sign, and this one shows the sign but no plane. I wanted one with the both plane and sign, but it was not be. It was grey and dull and looked set to rain again, but this sign brought a smile to everyone's face.