It was a two-hour drive away.
I had a stack of papers to grade.
But, most of all, I was worried that it wouldn’t be, well, asparagussy enough.
I know this may not seem like a valid concern. I mean, it is an asparagus festival. And it isn’t just any asparagus festival. It’s the National Asparagus Festival. That has to count for something, right?
But, you see, I’ve had more than my fair share of festival disappointments lately.
There was the pirate festival last year which was surprisingly un-piratey. Other than a few teenage girls in those cheap, plastic, slutty pirate costumes, hardly anyone was dressed up. And there weren’t any pirate-themed food items for sale at all. Not even an odd rum ball or two.
There was the St. Patrick’s Day parade that I went to this year, which had an entire band of Vikings but not a single Irish dancer.
And then there was the corn festival I went to last summer, where I had to wait in line for forty-five minutes to get an ear of corn because there was only one stand selling the stuff.
At a corn festival!
You’d think they’d just be throwing ears of corn at the crowd. (Okay, in all honesty, there was one guy on a tractor who was throwing corn at the crowd, but he was being kind of stingy about it, and I’m still more that a bit bitter than I didn’t get one.)Despite my concerns, I loaded myself into my car on Saturday and drove all the way to the home of the National Asparagus Festival, Hart, Michigan, an adorable little town where there is exactly one street light and all the street signs are decorated with hearts.
Unfortunately, I arrived in town about half an hour too late for the big morning event: a tour of a local asparagus farm. I’m still pretty bummed about that. I mean, that may have been my one big chance in life to meet the asparagus farmer of my dreams, and I blew it. I may never forgive myself.
Luckily, I did make it into town in time for the Asparagus Food Show, where for a mere five dollars I got to pile up a plate full of mini-samples of everything from pickled asparagus to an asparagus cupcake.
Yes, ASPARAGUS CUPCAKE. THAT IS A THING THAT EXISTS.After stuffing myself full of asparagus food items, I decided to take a little walking tour of Hart. This took me all of ten minutes. But I assure you it was ten very asparagussy minutes.
First, I stopped by the National Asparagus Festival Information Booth, where they sold everything from asparagus-themed sweatshirts.
To asparagus-themed bumper stickers.
I picked up a brochure, which assured me all roads in Michigan lead to asparagus.
Then I poked around in a few shops, where I discovered it’s possible the one thing my life has truly been missing (besides, you know, hot asparagus farmers) is an antique asparagus serving dish.
Of course, in addition to the asparagus-themed clothing and dishware, it was also possible to buy actual asparagus — fresh from the field or pasture or bog or wherever it is that they grow asparagus.
And it wasn’t your wimpy, skinny grocery store asparagus — this stuff was for real.My tour of Hart had definitely stirred up a bit of an appetite, so I decided it was time to move on to the carnival food portion of my day.
There were the usual vendors selling kettle corn and candy apples and elephant ears. But this was simply not asparagussy enough for me.
Luckily, there was a truck selling something called a “West Michigan Weiner,” which was described as an asparagus and cheese brat with pickled asparagus on top.
So, of course, I had to have that.Then I settled on to a street curb and waited for the day’s big event: the National Asparagus Festival “Royale Parade.”
The parade featured your usual selection of fire trucks, old-timey cars and lei-wearing alpacas.
There was, of course, an Asparagus Queen.
And one brave soul dressed as a human asparagus.
There were also a number of tractors. Possibly asparagus-farming tractors. Who knows? (Well, actually, I bet all those people who made it to the farm tour would know. Lucky jerks and their new asparagus-farming knowledge!)
It was a nice parade, if not particularly asparagussy.
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting.
Okay, I totally know what I was expecting.
I was expecting a dreamy asparagus farmer to be throwing asparagus into the crowd. And I was expecting for me to catch a whole bouquet of the stuff. And then our eyes would lock, and the asparagus farmer and I would ride off into the sunset on his tractor (or whatever it is they use to farm asparagus), and we’d live happily ever after, eating asparagus
Is that too much to ask?
Once the parade was over and I realized my dreams of free asparagus and true love would never be realized, I settled on the next best thing.
Because who needs love when you have deep-fried asparagus?Have you ever gone to a fruit or vegetable-themed festival? Was it fruity or vegetabley enough for you?