Saturday, October 5, 2019

Martinsville's Oktoberfest Turns 40

The smiling gentleman under the hat is Mr. Stephen H. Provost, former journalist and author of dozens of books and short stories, which range from historical nonfiction to biographies to straight-up horror fiction. His latest, Martinsville Memories, is a pictorial history of my old hometown, Martinsville, VA (see "Martinsville Memories at Oktoberfest," September 30, 2019), which made its debut at the fest. For the book, I wrote the foreword and provided the author with a few antic-dotes of no small amusement. Today was the day of Martinsville's 40th annual Oktoberfest, and it turned out to be an appropriately big event.

Last night, Ms. Brugger and I headed out from Greensboro, stopped to visit my mom in the nursing home, took care of some necessary Mom-related business, and then satisfied our never-ending craving for dinners at Third Bay Café with dinner at Third Bay Café. Afterward, we shared a couple of glasses of wine at Shindig, a relatively new and very promising bistro in Uptown Martinsville. This morning, about 10:30-ish, we hauled ourselves up to Uptown and met Stephen and his wife Samaire — a noteworthy author herself — at their vendor table on Church Street. I had planned to join them just to co-autograph Stephen's new Martinsville book, but he and Samaire kindly offered me some space to sell and sign a few of my own books.
A large, lovely moth we encountered this morning
on our way to Oktoberfest

For the first time this season, we experienced some honest-to-god autumn weather, with somewhat cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 60s. This proved heavenly. HEAVENLY, I tell you. Two days ago, the mercury hit 100 degrees in the area, and this, my friends, is nothing less than obscene. Never has that creeping little chill been so welcome. I don't know how the crowd this year compares to past years' Oktoberfests, but I can safely say this was a big one. We had lots of traffic at the table, and everyone moved a fair number of books. I unloaded a good many copies of Blue Devil Island, The Monarchs, West Virginia: Lair of the Mothman, and Michigan: The Dragon of Lake Superior. Both Stephen and Samaire clearly turned tidy profits. Ms. B. worked on some of her superb artwork and also wandered around checking out vendors to see if she could find any respectable shopping bargains. She found them.

I did run into a few old friends and acquaintances at the fest. Myron Smith, producer/director of numerous films made locally in which I've appeared — Young Blood (for which I also wrote the novelization), Invasion of the Killer Cicadas, Alice in Wonderland, and others. Scott Norman, a childhood friend whose grandparents lived next door to us. Baxter Robertson, owner of the aforementioned Third Bay Café. And a remarkable instance of Small World Syndrome ocurred. A nice lady stopped at our table and asked if I had a daughter who lived in New York City. I said I did, and it turned out her daughter and mine were friends. She had just moved to Martinsville quite recently. Who might have thunk that?

And... oh, Lord yes... there were funnel cakes. Big old ugly disks of fried dough, smothered in powdered sugar, which sifts all over everything — clothing, exposed skin, books, passing hippopotamuses, you name it. But they is good. Merciful heavens, they is good!

We all ended the day with our wallets having put on a little extra weight. On our way back to Greensboro, Ms. B. and I stopped for dinner at The Celtic Fringe in Reidsville, which has long been one of our favorite establishments for dining and imbibing. So all this was right and proper, and I must say that, in the midst of some of the most intense stress I've had to deal with in this life, our little jaunt to Martinsville this weekend proved both relaxing and rewarding.

It's gonna be another helluva week coming up. If you wish for me anything, please wish me well.

Addendum: Oktoberfest Photostory at The Martinsville Bulletin is here.
A terrifying trio: Mr. Provost, an Old Fart, and Ms. B.
Did anyone else notice a hippopotamus passing by this morning?
A good crowd taking advantage of the lovely Oktober weather
Scads of people listening to music and heading for funnel cakes
The lovely ladies of Oktober: Kimberly Ann Brugger and Samaire Provost
Ms. B.'s ink & watercolor rendering of a chonky little toad, which she completed
while we sat at our table