Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Lewiston Fourth

The 4th of July

Everyone needs a Lewiston in their life. Lewiston, UT is a small farming community in Cache Valley where my mom was raised. Of the 23 July 4ths to have gone down during my life, all but four have taken place in this very spot. In fact, even though I spent those four absences in some pretty beautiful places - Williamsburg (fitting...), England (ironic...), Maine (neutral...) and DC (appropriate...) - there was always a little piece of me missing the Lewiston 4th festivities.

The day begins with a big pancake breakfast in the park. We never, ever went to this. I can think of no better reason but that as kids we were given a few bucks to run to the corner store for cereal and we weren't about to pass up a few and far between sugar cereal opportunity for some boring pancakes.

Next, the parade. Parade-goers are privy to all the latest and greatest in farm equipment, the current candidates for city council and of course - each town's herd of dairy princesses. (That was my attempt at a dairy cow joke - not a stab at the size or stature of the princesses.) My uncle now lives in what used to be my grandparents' home, so the scene hasn't changed much over the past few decades. "Grandma's House" (sorry, Uncle Robert - it'll always feel that way to me...) spans a pretty impressive stretch of parade-front property and the Barlows come prepared to man it well. If an unsuspecting non-familial soul wanders into our territory they will be associated with "that family" with the megaphone reading each parade entry's tagline and heckling the Preston High School cheerleaders for more candy. Consider yourself warned. The megaphone does serve its purpose well. The Barlow progeny between the ages of two and nine make an impressive haul of Tootsie Rolls and salt water taffy fit to rot any kid's baby teeth right out of his/her head. And the adults help rid the kiddos of any "foul" parade treats including Bit 'O Honey and licorice taffy when they're not paying attention.

From there, it's step lightly for anything the pooper-scoopers may have missed and cross the street to the park for the carnival. It's not really a carnival in the small hands, smells like cabbage sense. But a carnival in the small town, local band singing country songs, dunking booth, homemade crafts and the Lewiston fire department blasting the fire hose sense.

And its all fun and games until the fire department has to pack up and respond to an actual fire.
(I have no idea who that little boy is in the bottom of the shot. I said "cheese," he froze and responded appropriately.)

After the carnival, it's off to the family farm for a BBQ. My aunt and uncle still live on and operate the dairy farm where my mom was raised. They have the ultimate fun house and they are so patient and easygoing. The kids basically have free reign of the toys, the dress-ups, the fourwheelers, the trampoline, the huge swingset and the rope swing in the hayloft - the only rule: don't drive over the dirty brown "road" back by the cows. One kid sinking a go-cart into the manure pit is a lesson we need learn only once. You could (and I did...) spend literally hours as a kid getting lost with my sister, cousins and our imaginations on the farm. This year, my nephew Spencer gave me a 4-wheelin' tour of the farm stopping occasionally to point out things like the dog, a pregnant cow and once to ask, "Have you ever stuck your hand in a cow's mouth?" He proceeded to allow a calf free reign of his hand up to mid-wrist. After pulling his little mitt from the calf's mouth, he gestured that it was my turn. Not wanting to risk my cool-aunt status, I obliged.

The kids aren't the only ones who take advantage of the afternoon. Kids and adults alike, the "play" gene is inherent in the Barlow clan, exhibited most overtly by my mom who almost always starts the waterfight (the water source? an irrigation pipe my uncle drags out and unleashes on the lawn. awesome.) and my cousin Todd who is sure to bring a pretty excellent haul of toys to the farm for the day. (Shamless plug: he owns Motorsports Unleashed in Smithfield, UT. Talk to this man if you want a scooter as badly as I do.)

Noah worked the 2-5 crowd with his usual winning way and ended up looking like this by day's end. And the fun proved too much for a few little princesses.
One of the evening's highlights was the little girls' fashion show of the amazing dress-up collection my aunt has. My niece, Whitney, grabbed hold of a real doosey that had us laughing everytime we saw her. It was hard to capture by camera because Whitney did not hold still for more than three seconds, but in a neon flash of spandex flamenco, I give you...
As the evening got darker, I swear the outfit somehow got brighter...
I'm so sorry, Whitney, if posting these photos has some sort of scarring effect on your childhood.No 4th of July would be complete without a proper fireworks display. Lewiston does have a fireworks show, but plan on bringing along a book to kill time in the pauses between explosions. Before we headed "uptown" to watch the fireworks, we played a little game of "who will be the first Barlow offspring to lose an appendage?" Time is of the essence and we do not waste time lighting match after match. Just prop up a blow torch on an overturned bucket and let the mayhem commence.


Quinn and Linds said...

You are correct, Richfield and Lewiston have a VERY similar 4th of July celebration. There are two things however, you should mention to the city council as additional traditions.

1. A "Run for freedom" 5k

2. The fish grab:(picture a knee deep swimming pool, kids ages 2-12, and 100+ huge lake trout). Here is how it goes... The kids all circle around the pool, anxious as all get out, as the city dumps truckloads of trout in the pool. Over the megaphone, the announcer counts down 3..2..1.. GRAB!!! With every ounce of restrained energy and excitement, they all rush the pool and jump in (over half face plant it right away). The children proceede to catch as many fleeing fish as possible with their hands; Boys cheering in excitement and girls screaming in fear! The best part is when the kids, flailing fish in hand, run to their parents to show their prize. Without fail, the father says "Go show your mom, she will LOVE it"! I must say, it is my favorite tradition..you should try it sometime.

melissa said...

Ah! I love that you have this amazing tradition!

Jen said...

We spent one July 4th in Lewiston sometime in the '80's and I've never forgotten it. What a fun day with a good lookin' crowd. Mini Krinie in flamenco- Awesome!

Darby said...

I love that your mom is from Lewiston. My G-pa grew up there and that's why Cache Valley always had a soft spot in his heart.

Ashley said...

I've laughed so hard the four times I've come back and read this post. Hilarious! Was there any volleyball involved this year? I so missed being there but that may just put it over the top if I missed out on excellent Barlow volleyball as well.

Brandon and Erica said...

Wow. It almost made me feel like I had frequented Lewiston, myself! Seriously...sounds like small town July 4th's is definitely the way to go. I think next year, i will ditch the Freedom Festival in Provo and head over to Lewiston for an appropriate celebration of Independence.

And, seriously...I covet your aunt's dress-up collection. Where can I get me a set of flamenco spandex?

Kami said...

Independence Day in a small town is so much better than any 4th of July I've been to (sorry DC). I love that your family has these traditions too!