Whirrrr, SMASH... The crowd cheers. Whirrrrrr, Crash. Children jump up and down with delight, clapping their hands. Moms and Dads are wrapped in large coats and blankets to ward off the cold. With each new launch, spectators rush forward to get the perfect shot. I can't believe that kid in front of me wont sit down. I'll never be able to capture the moment with him standing there.
What the heck am I doing? Why do I think I need a scrap book page full of pumpkins flying through the air? Pumpkins, yes I said pumpkins. We are spending the day at the local "Pumpkin Chunck'n". Are you asking yourself what is a "Pumpkin Chunck'n"? Apparently this annual event takes place in small towns all over the United States. I am not sure they are all the same, but I can describe this particular one.
In the center of the Rodeo arena (what do you mean you don't have a rodeo arena?) was parked something that resembled a 1970's Pinto. As if life lived as a brown econo wasn't bad enough, lined up on the far side of the arena were five home made contraptions. They ranged from medieval trebuchets to air compressed cannons and everything in between. The contestants showed their skills as they took turns flinging, shooting and otherwise hurling pumpkins at the target painted on the side of the poor abandoned Pinto. Some hit their mark while others flew straight up before landing with a unimpressive thud in front of the frustrated chuckers. The highlight of the day was the air cannon, it not only hit it's target time after time, but shot with such force that many of the pumpkins tore holes right through the car.
This along with the preceding costume parade made up the town's "Fall Festival". Quite the cultural experience for a brisk fall day. We returned home for a hot beverage and trip to the bathroom, both of which had eluded us at the "Festival".
My husband surprised me with tickets to the "Fall Festival Dinner" at Hot Lake Springs for later that evening. Hot Lake Springs requires a note of explanation. Yes, it is really a hot lake, a sulfur spring that was once a major medical attraction at the turn of the century. The beautiful hotel fell into disrepair and the site became known for nothing more than it's rotting buildings and supposed ghosts. A few years ago it was purchased by a local artist and his wife and over the last four years they have been slowly restoring the site to it's former glory. From time to time my husband has been invited to the hotel to take part in ground breaking ceremonies. When he has returned home he has always raved about the progress of the property and the art for sale in the main gallery. To be honest I expected little more than Motel 6ish rooms full of cowboy art. Not that I have anything against cowboy art,it has just never been my style. And I had pretty much had my fill of "Festivals" for one day.
I admit that it was with much uncertainty that I got out of the car. But to say that I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. The large front gallery was full of exquisite art ranging from life size bronze work to a dark and brooding watercolor painting of keys that had been unveiled that day. At dinner we sat with a potter, originally from Brazil and her husband. Then it was off to tour the rooms under construction. Each room had a flare all it own and most sported attached cozy sitting rooms. The kind of rooms found at fine hotels in many large cities. We ended the night by chatting with the artist in residence. Although we knew this lovely lady socially we had never seen her work in all of it's glory. When she offer me the chance to attend a future watercolor boot camp I jumped at the chance.
As we left the circular driveway I thought back over my day. From pumpkins flying through the air with the greatest of ease to the world class bronze overlooking the valley. Now that is what I call cultural diversity!
Moist Pumpkin Cake(wouldn't want to waste all of those chucked pumpkins)
2 cups Sugar
1 cup Oil
3 cups Flour
2 teaspoons Baking powder
2 teaspoons Baking soda
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Cloves
1/2 teaspoon Ginger
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Can pumpkin pie filling
1/2 cup Chopped nuts ( opt )
Mix everything in order given. batter will be thick. Bake in a tube pan or two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.
Bake at 350° for 65 to 70 minutes for tube pan and less time for other pans. A wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center should come out clean. Let stand wrapped overnight before cutting.