Last weekend, the town of Liberty marked the season change with their annual Fall Festival. Vendors, food trucks and amusements of all kinds were concentrated on the town square, and masses of people gathered to revel in the festivities.
There was some anxiety about what the weekend might bring. This was clear at Cody’s Corner Store, the locally owned convenience store and ice cream haven down the street. Detecting anxiety in the typically relaxed store, I asked one of the employees how she felt about the upcoming festival.
“Maybe it will be fun for most people, but for us, this will be one hell of a busy weekend,” she said.
I revisited Cody’s during the festival. It was exceptionally busy, but employees seemed energized by the traffic.
The festival itself was a whirlwind of sensory intake.
There were children running, shouting and laughing with adults casually in pursuit. The streets were lined with booths, some crammed with trinkets for sale, others with activities and fun distractions. One stall simply had an assortment of colorful wigs, scarves and absurd accessories which people could try on and photograph themselves in.
There was music blaring. A local band called Oxford Remedy, consisting of two female guitarists and one singing drummer, filled all of downtown with Cage the Elephant covers.
The smell and sight of food was everywhere. Corndogs, hotdogs, nachos, stir-fry, bloomin’ onions, cheeseburgers and funnel cakes were all available. Perhaps the most visually astounding and absolutely delicious culinary indulgence on offer was a massive brick of fried potatoes. It was perhaps a little larger than a human head and consisted of countless thinly shaved potatoes compressed into an imposing brick of starch. It was absurdly delicious.
The rides were small but nevertheless an exciting attraction for younger attendees. Lines were long, and the kids waiting could not conceal their impatience. Eventually, they would be whirled through the air on small benches or steadily whisked in a circle in big colorful automobiles or on the backs of adorned horses.
Amidst the chaos of the festivities, I had a brief conversation with one of the vendors running a game stall. Targets lined the back of the booth, and the front was covered in stuffed animals and action figures to entice people into trying their luck. The woman was a retired nurse, her husband a retired naval officer in a booth across the fair. She had been on the road with this group of festival purveyors for three years. The whole group came to Liberty from Excelsior Springs and on Sunday would be heading to St. Joe to set up once again.
She spoke of the job and it’s routines with some fatigue.
“It’s kinda exhausting to be packing and unpacking every few days and hauling all this stuff around. Especially during the summer, when it’s so damn hot,” she said.
Certainly a lot of work, anguish and attention was devoted to the Fall Festival. For those that were able to indulge, it offered a simple and brief escape.
“I liked the vibe, it was good. I bought a gourd, and was there for a bit. Aside from that, nothing really profound to say,” one Jewell student said.
For information about upcoming festivals in the area, including KC’s Renaissance Festival, pumpkin themed events and general fall activities, visit http://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/article97368852.html
Photos by Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe.