There's a small street festival that the Jaycees host in Monroe a few times a year called Main Street Live. It's a bit like a block party really. It's downtown, just off the square, and only as big as one side of a city block, (and remember, Monroe is a small city.) It's free to get in, and starts at the beer stand, meanders through a few food vendors and a face painting booth, and ends at the stage where a band that formed in the mid-sixties pumps out beach music and oldies. There's a dance area where folks do line dances or shag, and kids do the giggly wiggle with a local mascot.
There are young families watching their children play in the sprinklers (thoughtfully provided to keep the toddlers from becoming hot miserable beasts,) and some games for older children. Middle aged men and middle aged women banter in small friendly groups, and there are chairs provided for the retired group to sit and people-watch like they still love to do from their porches.
There were a few sheriffs standing around, talking to the festival goers with a can of Pepsi and a smile, just in case anyone got rowdy - but no one did, and the officers were free to chit-chat with their neighbors and discuss Katrina and Ophelia, the state of the nation, and the upcoming harvest.
So that's where we went last night. Scott had a couple of beers, Kory 'hung out' with some friends tossing a nerf football back and forth. Kassi danced and got autographs from the band. Brendon found some girls to play in the sprinkler with, and Terra claimed the multi-colored plastic rings from the water ring-toss game, and no one argued with her. It was warm but not quite hot, and there was the smell of food and beer in the air and, to be honest, it reminded me of a big family cookout. But really in a town this size, where everyone knows everyone, it's a lot like extended family.
There are no rides, no rappers, and no flashing lights. There are tables where you could get free samples of products from a local manufacturer, and you can have a look at the newest riding lawn mowers from the local hardware store, but there are no high-pressure sales pitches from half dressed Hooters-style girls or pushy used car salesmen types. The games aren't manned by carny types trying to con you out of $30 for a teddy bear, and there's one table set up with a cooler full of ice-pops that they give the kids for free.
It is the epitome of the simplicity of rural life in a small southern town. It's just a few laid-back hours on the cusp of summer filled with unfettered family fun for simple folks. It was 3 hours well spent being reminded how little it really takes to have a good time, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself - and from the street long line of smiles, I think everyone else did too.
Tagged: Ramblings, Random Thoughts, Miscellaneous