The Maple Syrup Festival in Sheppard, Michigan was as awesome as I had hoped. Sheppard is a small farming town in the middle of Michigan. There are maple leaves on the street signs and the sign as you enter the saying “Welcome to Sheppard” which leads me to believe this is the only big festival thing that happens here.
I got to see Mom, bro and sis, grandma and assorted great aunts and uncles. I thought it would be awkward hanging around all the relatives, having boring but necessary conversations about what I’m doing and the weather in Illinios, but it was actually fun.
One great aunt (?) I talked to got some advice in her youth: “Don’t have kids while you’re in high school, don’t get married until after you have kids.” I said that sounded like good advice. She said she had had kids in high school, and was unmarried! I paused for a minute, confused because my family is very religious (this could not have happened- how scandalous!), trying to imagine what it must have been like to be a teenage unwed mother in the days when ladies matched their purses to their handbags. But then she told me it was that she ended up marrying a man who had had kids while she had been in high school- so they were her kids, just not yet.
The country has awesome things: the best sausage I have ever had. Hands down. The town sells kids pigs to raise, then buys them back, kills them and makes them into sausages for the festival. I talked to someone who had a similar program in her town, and when I asked if the kids were sad to see their little pig-pets butchered. She said they were just excited to get the money and that they didn’t care. How horrible to raise little capitalists! But Mom said pigs stop being cute when they get older, so it’s not like raising a dog for slaughter, even if pigs are really smart. Smart is not endearing, I suppose. We just want the dumb, slobbery love in a pet. That’s a more comforting perspective to have than to think we’re raising money-hungry bloodthirsty children.
The country also has awesome-horrible things. Cow patty bingo. Yep, just as it sounds. A cow is put in a pen with squares. Where ever it “plops” (read: “takes a crap”) is a hit on your bingo card. I didn’t go. I don’t like the idea of sitting around waiting for a cow to take a dump and taking in the accompanying aromas. But the prize was $500. Maybe next year.