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Street Talk

Pine Valley Festival Rocked The Weekend

By Mickey Howley 

In pastoral Pine Valley the sun kissed maidens danced with flowers in their hair. Men of all ages strummed stringed instruments of all sizes. The promised benign mid-May skies were dry until late in the afternoon. Ah, but then came a towering southern squall across all of Yalobusha blowing with a gulf coastal summer fury. 

Sure doom’s last warning sign was the zephyr like frigid blast of falling air. Charging over the fields came an angry and massive silver curtain, rain slapping and knicker drenching our puny transfixed frames. Thunder crackled and boomed in an asymmetrical symphonic crescendo. The prancing maidens fled as the heavens flashed with dancing lightening.

Seven supernumeraries, myself in that cast, weathered the elements to save the precious amplification material. We, under the dubious protection of a freestanding tree, scurried on the wheeled metal frame serving as the fest stage. Many of my life’s failures passed before me as I wrestled the loud speakers. Oh, to leave this mortal coil on a stage, even if it was a gooseneck trailer.

That’s some of the fun of outdoor festivals.

I figured I was done with the outdoor fest crapola with the last Crappie Fest in 2013, but never say never. Mind you, I was happy to be there and help, sort of, because the Pine Valley Fest is truly an honest festival. It doesn’t claim to be serving any other purpose than an art and music fest. Sure getting folks together is nice and maybe the fest raises some money for the schoolhouse upkeep, but it is largely a pro bono publico event. There is no ulterior motive.

Compare Pine Valley to Oxford’s Double Decker Festival, celebrating 20 years. The budget this year for Double Decker was $220,000. It is an art and music fest. Or is it more? Seems like a lot of money. Seems a lot of cash for what short term or long-term results?

The question to ask if you are putting on big festival is will the money and massive effort spent have a lasting effect and a long-term result?  Or is it just a good time and the feeling ephemeral?

Maybe Oxford is not the best example, for the town is thriving regardless. But many towns place an unattainable hope in their festivals as saviors. Sure it is great to have the town busy for a day or two, but how does that concentrated effort beneficially diffuse over the rest of the year?

Speaking of lasting effect versus ephemeral there were quite a few people at Pine Valley asking for your vote in August. One candidate for governor and one candidate for lieutenant governor. Plenty of local candidates, also. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being number 50. Let people say “Thank God for Alabama” or whoever once in awhile. We often blame our five-oh ranking on the bottom, but I believe it also has a lot to do with who is at the top. And when those who want your vote tell you of their past and who they are presently related to, ask them what their plan for the future is.

The 8th season of the Farmers Market starts up May 30, the Saturday after next. See you in Railroad Park from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. under the big magnolia. That’s the stage for Valley freshness.


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