Black Walnut Festival 2007


The mecca of any festival….. Of course I had to have some funnel cake right away. I got apples and caramel toppings. I mean, when you are consuming a plateful of FRIED FAT, you want to feel like you’re doing something healthy for yourself with that fruit. I noticed another booth selling something called elephant ears, which appear to be even MORE fried fat fun, so I’m thinking I must try that next year!

Princess practiced balancing towering cones of ice cream, which will be a useful life skill, I’m sure. She didn’t even pretend to try to eat anything nutritious.

She also honed her ability to spend twenty dollars every ten minutes at the carnival winning stuffed animals at the game booths. She just about had to be dragged away from the carnival. She couldn’t get enough of it.

Oh, to be eleven….and spending your mother’s money.

She actually got me to climb on this DEATH TRAP on Saturday. She said the friend she tried to ride with started screaming so they made them get off (you have to ride with a partner). This, believe me, was such a tempting way for her to frame her plea for me to go with her. Then as we stood in line, the carnival operator kept shouting, “This ride is NOT AS FUN AS IT LOOKS. Please get out of line if you think you might be scared. This ride can be HORRIFYING for some people.” And let me tell you, when we were at the top hanging upside down in this tiny metal cage, I was wondering WHEN in the last twenty years they’d had a safety check…. But I probably wouldn’t have liked the answer, so maybe a good thing I didn’t know.

More my style is parade-watching. We watched from my cousin’s second-story office overlooking the square and the street where the parade comes down. We sat on the window ledges and ate fried fat.

Princess kept yelling “hi!” to people and we kept trying to convince her that they couldn’t hear her……

One of my parade favorites are the flag girls. Don’t these look pretty? It was a beautiful day for a parade. I can’t stand watching parades on TV. Bores me to death. But I do enjoy them in person. Especially a small town parade, always so quaint with the festival queen and her court, the varsity football players, the volunteer fire trucks, and all the marching bands.

West Virginia governor Joe Manchin was the parade grand marshal. Five minutes after he walked down the street, he was choppered away. Hmmpph.

We had so much fun just walking around and looking at everything. There were vendors and booths everywhere. I gave the kids cell phones so they could walk around the festival on their own (benefit of a small town) and meet up with their friends. Here (left) is my cousin’s cornmeal he was grinding and selling behind the courthouse. At one point we ran into 16 and I managed to snag a photo of him with his cute girlfriend before they disappeared again.

When I hooked up again with 14, here is what he had in his arms…..

He said, “Some girl asked me to hold her puppy then she ran away.”

Brief research revealed the girl had been spotted earlier with a litter of puppies in a giveaway box. Well, there you go, if you have a litter of kittens or puppies you can’t give away, walk up to someone in a crowd and ask them to hold one then run away! This works especially well if the person you hand it to is a child and their parent isn’t in the immediate vicinity.

The puppy threw up twice on the way home.

But, of course, what are we gonna do? We are people with SUCKER plastered on our foreheads. So, meet our new puppy. His name is Blue. He IS cute, isn’t he?

The cats are just THRILLED.

I entered the art and photography show with some of my pictures, but I must report that I won nothing. And what chance did I have?

This photo, of a SLICE OF CORNBREAD, won a third place ribbon.

Did I mention that it is a photo of a SLICE OF CORNBREAD?

I have big plans for next year, big plans, I’m telling you. Rolls of toilet paper. Crumpled napkins. Empty glasses of milk. I’ll beat that slice of cornbread yet…..

The 4-H livestock barn is always fun.

Pretty brown cows…..


And pigs!

You ever notice pigs make really scary noises?


  1. MARY says:

    Awesome pics!!! Wish I could have been there! Suzanne, that pic that won third place must have been taken by the judge’s wife!! BORING!!!!!! Have a great day!! :purr:

  2. Kim A. says:

    First, congratulations on finishing the book. Hurrah!

    Second, Blue is so adorable! I can’t believe it; you came home with a puppy. Okay, I *can* believe it. LOL. Pictures, pictures, pictures!

    Third, the photo of the cornbread shouldn’t have been in the contest in the first place, never mind winning third place. Ridiculous. Now, a contest for best cornbread recipe is another matter.

    Fourth, teach Princess to do the royal wave (yeah, I’m Canadian and we’re still a member of the Commonwealth) and next year, instead of shouting, she can wave in regal fashion. ๐Ÿ˜†

    Fifth, that’s a nice-looking sheep! No, really! I used to love going to the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto — huge, international fair. Big to-do, show-jumping with riders from North American and Europe, etc. Lots of neat stuff. I still remember the butter sculptures one year…Waste of good butter, I thought, but I admit, they *were* works of art.

    Sixth (and last–lucky you): No way, no how would I ever get on any ride where my body hung upside down in the air. *Barf* So I’m impressed you did it!

    Great post, Michelle. Give Blue a cuddle and kiss from me. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Biddy says:

    Awww Blue is really cute! And next year I can come and teach you all the royal wave… :mrgreen:

    Ooooo sheep! :sheepjump:

    But I have to ask… what is funnel cake?

  4. Suzanne says:

    Biddy, funnel cake is fried dough! Completely devoid of all nutritional value but really yummy! Usually topped with powdered sugar and other stuff to make it even FATTER!

  5. Becky says:

    I was really disappointed in the photography exhibition. I can’t believe that photo won something!!! And yours didn’t win anything?!?!? I thought they were really nice! ๐Ÿ˜•

    That cornmeal is really good! Not so much for photography, but… I buy a bag every year and use it for everything. It makes good polenta!

    And no way was I going to get on that ride!!!! That is a puke machine if I’ve ever seen one! :sick:

  6. Alice Audrey says:

    When I tried to vote it still told me West Virginia citizens only.

  7. Vikki Russell says:

    :catmeow: I think your site is faboulous! Thank you for the wonderful photographs. I am one of Eric’s cousins, and will be coming out to visit. Am so excited about this. I do illustrations and have done mystery book covers, if you ever need an illustrator.

    All the best,
    Vikki Russell

  8. Susan says:

    Woo hoo, on finishing the book! :bananadance:

    A slice of cornbread, won a third place ribbon?! Unbelievable!

    It sounds like y’all had a wonderful time. Especially Blue! :yes:

  9. catslady says:

    Exactly what Kim said!!! plus I just love the picture of the pig snout roflmao.

  10. Estella says:

    Congrats on finishing your book.
    Blue is too cute!

  11. Rebecca says:

    How could your photos not beat the cornbread? They are awesome!

    I’m a sucker for the funnel cakes as well. (Elephant ears are also good, but easy to make at home).

    Congrats on finishing the book!

  12. leanne says:

    Sounds like you guys had a good time. Elephant ears are good, their kinda like cinnamon twists except they are flat and about as big as your hand. But funnel cake is great too. As for Blue, he is a cutie. Hope everyone has a great day.

    Leanne :woof: :woof: :woof:

  13. Brandy says:

    The pictures are fantastic! Thanks for sharing. Blue is adorable. I, too, have sucker tattooed across my forehead, hence the 7 indoor cats and 2 outside cats we have. *g*

    Congratulations of finishing the book. I’m sure your kids are thrilled, that mom is going grocery shopping. *g*

    Have a great day!

  14. Dru says:

    All the pictures were great. Thanks for sharing. I wonder how the photo of the cornbread won third place.. was it the consistency of slice.

    Blue is so adorable.

    Congrats on finishing your book.

  15. kacey says:

    funnel cakes, doggoneit, now I’m craving funnel cake…

    And you were ROBBED on the photo judging!! :hissyfit:

  16. Michelle Willingham says:

    I worship funnel cakes! So yummy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Maybe you should take a photo of that for next year. I’ll bet it might beat out the cornbread! :yes:

  17. Dena says:

    I love the fair too. Your new puppy is so cute.

  18. Lexi Connor says:

    Yay on finishing the book!

    The puppy is adorable and I’m not even a dog/puppy person!

    The ride does look terrifying.

    The ice cream cone has me drooling on the keyboard and you’ve got me laughing so hard tears are forming in my eyes!

  19. kaye says:

    Great photos of the Festival! I have friends that were there too. Yes, maybe funnel cake for a prize photo next year? Beats cornbread any day. Yeah and I’m sure the cats just love the new puppy, poor thing.

  20. sue says:

    Does your cousin sell his cornmeal? I’d love to buy some if he’d ship it (to california)

    Like your site.

  21. Kathy Russell says:

    Spencer and the black walnut festival! (My connection to Spencer was the Insane Asylum built here in the 1890s. My poor great-aunt died there in her 30’s — she probably was schizophrenis, but who knew what that was in those days, and there wasn’t a treatment in an case.) But I digress.

    We just bought 7 acres and an old farmhouse set back far enough on a hill for privacy (and the best view of two sets of hills and valleys out my back window) but close enough to Rte 16 to get into town when it snows.

    My great-grandmother had 240 acres in Jackson County (post office was Given, then Liberty). She bought that farm across the road from her family farm and the house where she was born in 1882 in 1932 at age 50. She worked hard, and was thrifty, so she had money during the depression to get a loan to buy that farm for $6,000.

    She stayed on that farm, alone for the last 35 years, and only left when we dragged her off it when she had her fifth stroke. The farm was sold in 1969 for $25,000 and it had a farmhouse, two barns, and level rolling meadows, and a high pasture. If I had been a little bit older I would have bought it myself!

    My great-grandmother had electricity (finally, in the 50’s), a well, an outhouse, but free gas to heat the house from the gas wells drilled on the property. (I’m still getting royalties each month from the tiny share passed down to me.)

    I started this ramble because I realized when I had to explain what exactly a black walnut was to my friends in California where my mother moved in 1951. They had never heard of black walnuts, and had certainly never tasted one. I realized that I was born in California, but I was “raised” by WV — the values and traditions I learned from my WV family describe my view of the world.

    I’ve wanted to move here my whole life, and finally, at age 55 I’m here. The rest of my California family is tolerant of the move, but they think I’m nuts. How do I explain that I was homesick for a place that never was my home?

  22. Donna says:

    I can remember marching in a parade in our small town, as I was on the High Kick dance team. LOL Small town parades are fun. I also remember the animals at the stock show in San Antonio, as my cousins entered thier sheep or something….and my father rode a horse with Roy Clark in a parade downtown San Antonio, in the early 70’s. You made me laugh narrating your day…so funny. I LOVE puppies..but my Parakeet would be gone in ONE bite. sigh

  23. sally says:

    your story is evocative no matter where we live. thankyou and congratulations on your book. i am a New Zealander, half a world away from you, just sold my beautiful hill country farm because i had a stroke, miss it oh miss it! have 2 months to run on a rental house and am planning some sort of move back to the country. must or the city will kill me. and i know what black walnuts are. once you can get the crenellated, very hard shells off and extract the nuts from the tenaceous hold to the shell – then then taste like the most delicious vanilla.

    i want to go back to where the bell bird calls and the big old hawk rises up and up through the bowl of the sky through wisping mist and arcing rainbows…. smiles from sally

  24. Jeff Jenkins says:

    Great Photos. I would like to assure you that the rides you referred to are actually inspected every week and believe it or not might even be safer than those at your local amusement park.

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