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Thirty-five years of fishheads

October 22, 2011

I had my yearly dose of redneck glory tonight.  Yes, that’s right…it is the weekend of the 35th annual Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival.

To be clear, this festival celebrates the fish, not the hairstyle, but I assure you there is plenty of both to be found at the Mullet Festival.  The fashion of the festival appeared to be camouflage hoodies, but they didn’t work all that well because I could definitely see them.  And to the girls in Daisy Dukes, camo hoodies, and cowboy boots and hats,  I can only say that you may think you are cool, but everyone else knows the truth:  it is 49 degrees, and you are COLD.

It was the GrandSpark’s first Mullet Fest.  I would have gotten him a “Baby’s First Mullet Festival” t-shirt or a Christmas ornament or something but oddly enough, the vendors weren’t peddling those sorts of wares.  I would think it would be right up their alley.

The best part of the Mullet Festival is the food.  We discovered tonight that there is an advantage to going on Friday night.  The food (and the frying oil) is fresher.  Saint Somebody-or-other’s Catholic Church had a trailer selling fish on a stick (don’t be impressed…you can literally get nearly anything on a stick at some booth at the Fest).  I skipped the stick and just got a basket of fish and chips.  The fish was tile fish and it was absolutely delicious.  Mr. Sparky found a bunch of church ladies who were peddling Southern Soul Food, and he came away with catfish, greens, beans, cornbread, and a brownie.  One Sparkette had a bowl of fabulous red beans and rice, and the other Sparkette opted for a smoked turkey sandwich from Benny’s BBQ, which is always a good choice.  Later in the evening Mr. Sparky and I split a funnel cake, a food I am sure they will serve in heaven.

The rest of our evening was spent leisurely strolling through the artists and vendors.  Jamie Babula, an artist whose work I absolutely love, had a booth.  I could have stood there and stared at her pieces all night.  Not many artists keep me quite that occupied.  Or course, there were also plenty of booths of crocheted tissue box covers and ginormous hair bows for little girls who will one day need a therapist to deal with the trauma of wearing a four pound hunk of hot glued ribbon and tulle on their head.   I noticed a lack of beer can art vendors this year but didn’t complain to any of the event planners about it.  I hope nobody else did, either.  Wouldn’t count on it, though.

We didn’t visit the midway and we didn’t spend any time listening to the concert performers.  Let me re-phrase that:  we didn’t purposefully attend the singing performances.  There is no getting away from hearing the music.  The last band we heard seemed to be playing a lot of ’80s and ’90s music.  They weren’t so bad and in fact they were rather enjoyable as very loud background music.  Prior to them some band played a lot of music that obviously meant a lot to them, because they belted it from their hearts.  Unfortunately, being in tune was not their forte.  I realize that I’m rather sensitive to pitch issues, but goodness…if you’re gonna wail, at least wail on key, you know?

We go to this thing because it’s not often small towns make a tradition of throwing an annual shindig like this.  It’s part of what defines Niceville, aka Boggy Bayou, and though it’s perpetually rather rough around the edges, it’s the sort of hometown Americana that is often crowded out in favor of slick productions and upscale offerings.  The Festival planners have acquiesced to that and now bring in big name country music entertainers for the late night performances, and upped the admission costs accordingly.  I hope it doesn’t get any “better” than that because it really doesn’t get much better than this.  Not without destroying the character of the entire thing.

Though I did have to come home and take a shower to wash some of the character out of my hair.  I smelled as if I’d rolled in an ashtray.  Nasty.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Joann permalink
    October 22, 2011 8:22 am

    We never made it to the festival while living there. You know in those days about the only place I went was to church, getting out of the house and into crowds of people wasn’t my idea of fun. Especially with all those stick thin creatures in Daisy Dukes, nothing makes a big girl feel more ginormous! I’m telling you that one of these days I still hope to make it back to that neck of the woods and when I do, Mullet Festival, here I come!

  2. October 22, 2011 8:52 am

    We had the alligator on a stick….and it was delish! Very tender….Oli loved it! Then, of course, we had to get a funnel cake, but we split it among 5 people, so…..I only had a couple of bites.

    My favorite vendors (out of the ones that were affordable) were a little shop where an older gentleman had tons of jewelry under glass, the Native American shop, and another jewelry store that had lots of feathers for your hair, and an awesome sale (3 for $10.00).

    But the evening began to get more rowdy and Oli was getting tired, so we left. But it was fun….and cold :)

  3. Eric Partin permalink
    October 22, 2011 9:35 am

    I felt like they sold out when they moved it from White Point to where it is now. That was when it was awesome. My parents were River Rats so they always had a tent selling food. My friends and I would stay out there all weekend sleeping in my van. Plus you could go swimming in the bay if it was warm. Those were the days.

  4. October 22, 2011 4:06 pm

    We go every year and for some reason always on the family day-it is always an interesting crowd but at least they are sober! : )

  5. October 25, 2011 9:28 am

    Loved the perfect description of Festival of the Mullet! I have enough redneck in me that I make it a point to AVOID the festival at all costs. I choose to have gone vicariously thru you. Thanks! (yum…I’m still tasting the funnel cake!)

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