Fair warning: there are about twenty megabytes' worth of pictures in this post. I realize that for most of us modern-day downloadin' folks that's barely a blip, like maybe three or four decently-encoded MP3s, but still. Fair warning!
As you'll see shortly, there is a lot more in this post than I was actually expecting to see when I left town Thursday evening. Longtime readers will recall that my father lives out in Oak Lake, off the highway between Virden and Brandon, and Oak Lake is generally not an overly busy destination.
As an example, here's what the hustle and bustle of downtown looked like when we went out the next day:
Not your fancy Virden city-living, to be sure, and Oak Lake residents like it just fine that way. Let me (re)introduce you to a couple of them, not because they're crucial to the story, but because they're adorable:
This is my father's cat; his name is either "Little Asshole" or "Little Rascal" depending on whether he's inside or outside when he's being called. His routine is going outside, getting into fights, slinking back inside, sleeping for three days, and then going outside again. So he's me at age twelve, basically.
And I know I've blogged before here about my dad's dog, but she cracks me up every single time, so I would be remiss to leave her out:
This is Peggy, a Shih Tzu-Pug cross (Pugtzu?) who neither knows nor cares how goofy she looks.
Sometimes she gets a nice haircut, to look more dignified.
With mixed results. When you have the face and tail of a shih tzu and the body of a pug, it is very difficult to be taken seriously.
Having said that, of course, I must caution you ahead of this next picture, because she does her best to look the elder statesman in it and I can't even handle it:
So those two creatures are usually the big excitement of a visit out to Oak Lake, although of course a visit to Oak Lake will generally include a side trip to Virden as well.
A fair bit busier in Virden, to be sure, especially as Indoor Rodeo time approaches. "Indoor Rodeo time" is legitimately a thing, by the way, I'm not making that part up.
Now, I have mentioned in this space before that Virden is far west enough to be Roughriders territory, partially out of geography (because Saskatchewan is, technically, a lot closer to Virden than Winnipeg is) and partially out of expedience (because, let's be honest, rooting for the Blue Bombers is openly masochistic). The streak of Rider Green out Virden way is pronounced enough that impulse-buy sections of the Co-Op, where shoppers normally grab candy bars or magazines, are frequently filled with Riders merchandise instead.
All of that is the setup. Here is the delivery, because I didn't know this was a real thing until I saw it and it legit cracked me up:
So I bought a box of it. No, I'm serious! If it's good, I get to eat tasty cereal; if it sucks, I get to make fun of the Roughriders. Either way, I get a ready-made extra blog post out of it, and a Children's Hospital gets my money. So everybody wins! Except the Bombers, I mean, but they haven't won anything else this season either, so there's something to be said for consistency.
But, I digress. Aside from our plan to take in a day's worth of the Brandon Folk Festival on Saturday, I had assumed that it would be another typically quiet weekend out in smalltown Westman -- so you can imagine my surprise when my Dad unearthed this on his kitchen table, mentioned that he'd forgotten about it, and showed it to me.
OH SHIT A SMALL TOWN PARADE
AND SOME FIREWORKS
WHO DO WE KNOW THAT ENJOYS PARADES AND FIREWORKS
QUICK, TO THE TRUCK, LET'S GO, GO GO GO GO
As unbelievable as it may sound, gentle reader, it is the truth: I completely accidentally, completely coincidentally happened into a small town just as said small town was putting together a big parade for everybody.
So here's a whole bunch of photos of the Oak Lake Parade, because I couldn't not take a whole bunch of photos of the Oak Lake Parade. (I gotta be me.)
Yes, it closed with a guy in a Roughriders jersey and a matching green lucha mask. Because Western Manitoba, so shut up, that's why.
What a busy weekend already! And that's all before going to the event that drew me out that way in the first place, the 28th Annual Brandon Folk Music and Art Festival.
It had a man passionately reciting a spoken song about the KFC Double Down, ten or eleven people doing a rendition of the jazz standard Caravan on various stringed instruments, a woman singing for like ten minutes about why she disliked a tai chi instructor, and a variety of other weird and wondrous things that I can better present to you in image format.
The second stage, for example, featured a roof held up by a convenient ladder, which I thought was inventive and kind of adorable:
There was an art-project photo booth:
Festival souvenir t-shirts, pressed on location:
Crafts and commerce of all colours and kinds:
A light installation that kind of looked like a heart:
Wait, no, let's try that again without all the pesky sunlight.
Yeah, that's better.
There was a typically Geoff-Bernian Geoff Berner panel, "Songs for Stephen Harper", dedicated with tongue in cheek to removing the Prime Minister from power and alloting each person one number to do it ("Everybody gets one song. And then... that's it. We'll see which one does the trick."):
And there was, apparently, television coverage of the event from about 5:00 PM onward, because our very nice view of the stage was suddenly not quite as nice after that point and we had to shuffle our stuff to a new spot.
Alas! A minor inconvenience, in the grand scheme of things, and quickly forgotten once... well, here, take a look.
These next photos are going to seem like a Monty Python's Flying Circus transition from live-action to animation, but bear with me:
Would you believe me if I told you that the Saturday night mainstage schedule included a five-act "Community Play" about the value of artists and culture to our shared society?
With some civic history about a demolished heritage building thrown in?
Because that was a real thing, and that happened, and regrettably I have no idea how it ended.
We missed the last act-and-a-half of the play, you see; I convinced my Dad to stick out the oncoming storm threat until the end of the Crooked Brothers set (obviously I wasn't going to leave any sooner), then when the chance of rain nullified their prospective encore we booked it for the car and I drove us back to Oak Lake through a downpour and a crazy lightning storm.
Oh! And I want to make special note of this, because it was pretty neat: Rick Neufeld popped up as a surprise guest during the Love and Travel Songs panel, got a special-attraction segment before the Community Play, and busted out his biggest hit:
I'm glad I was there for that! The Brandon Folk Festival is good times, you guys. Keep an eye out for next year's lineup, you never know what'll pop up.
Yes, the weekend was a busy one indeed, filled with music and spectacle and adventure and explosions. The way any weekend should be! But if I had one regret, one single wish for the weekend past, it would be this: I wish I had packed a red pen, on the off chance that I might run into something like this.
So... how was your weekend? It was good? Good, good, that's good. Well, there'll be an installment of ManLinkWeek coming along tomorrow or the next day, so let's agree to meet back here for that. See you then!