Aww… the weekend. A magical time where anything can happen, just so long as it gets me away from a desk! I had just started work at a new tech company this week, and this was the first day that didn’t have me chained to a desktop. So, Amber and I took the day to go have a small adventure, so we went to the 26th annual Maple Syrup Festival in Salem, IN.
I woke up early, like 9:30 in the morning… I know that isn’t early by a lot of standards, but darn it, it is for me! And having woken up so bright eyed and bushy tailed, I decided that adventuring should be afoot! I did just a little bit of googling as to what was going on near by and boom! Maple Syrup Festival. Seemed like as good of an adventure as any.
I managed to pry Amber out of bed, (because ya need an adventuring buddy!) and away we went. The website had an address, so we jumped in the car and pointed ourselves in the right direction. This right direction just happened to be an hour and forty minutes from our destination. (Ok, so I didn’t check until that moment! I googled for things in Indianapolis… apparently nearly two hours south, down towards Kentucky, *is* close to Indy.)
The drive was largely uneventful until we got off the major interstate. I figured it would be a couple twists and turns, but nothing major… I was wrong. Thank the Gods for GPS! We had been driving for nearly another half hour full of twists and turns down back roads, including gravel roads, past a couple Amish horse and buggies, and even across what seemed to be the middle of a farmer’s field (complete with some equipment over hanging the road) when the GPS proudly declared “In one thousand feet, your destination will be on the left”.
I looked around in dismay. There was nothing there. It was now heavily wooded on both our left and right. There was no signs… no balloons… nothing. Nothing! I crept my tiny Kia forward, unsure what to do next when… in roughly one thousand feet… a small drive loomed into view on the left hand side, and what was down that little drive was astounding: an entire little hidden festival. Tents, car parking, children, attendants, signs, everything absolutely hidden! This was a prime example of “if it was a snake, it would have bitten me”.
The festival itself was small, we very leisurely walked the entire grounds in less than two hours. But the content that was there was really fun. Not only did they of course have a variety of maple syrup to taste test and buy, but they also had a bunch of vendors and children’s activities. They had a manual merry-go-round made of wood and ropes, they had men dressed as cowboys complete with real spurs and pistols, there was vendors pedaling all sorts of wares including hand woven Amish baskets, Indiana produced honey, wood and leather crafts, and one gentleman with antiques.
As we wandered around, we got a handful of odd looks from a few folks. Actually I think I garnered the weird looks, no one really gave Amber a second glance. I was wearing a rainbow tie-dye over shirt, and a black bowler hat (“Honey, today is a hat day… pick me a hat!”, and a bowler is what I was handed). Oddly, the solid black hat almost looked right surrounded by Amish boys in their black flat hats. All of the Amish were extremely polite, while they surely thought I was an odd duck, they all smiled politely and answered questions when they were presented. Actually the only truly rude behavior was some homophobia overheard between one stall vendor and a middle aged woman (“Well, I’m not like that!” *Insert overly flamboyant hand gesture* “Well, I should certainly hope not!”). Otherwise, everyone was wonderfully polite.
Now normally, I don’t give much of a hoot about antiques, old junk is just like new junk, just a bit mustier. However, this one gentleman had something that truly caught my eye: poured colored glass window panes. There were two of them, propped up against a pile of regular old wooden pane windows. The glass was completely intact, and the colors were swirled beautifully. I loved it. I inquired from this man and learned that this glass was over one hundred years old, and had been reclaimed from an old church in Southern Indiana. It also carried the handsome price tag of $100/pane.
I hemmed and hawed. For me, $100 is a fair amount of scratch. Not too mention, there wasn’t an ATM in sight. We discussed possibilities for payment… I had to have this window pane… he actually offered to take a check (the rural parts of the country are weird… I wouldn’t even take a check from a little old lady any more) and I had to inform him that I didn’t have a checkbook, just a debit card and my good looks. He instructed me to go to the main building (a small wooden cabin near the front of the festival) and that they could give me cash back on a purchase, which surprised me. But I dutifully marched over to the cabin, and asked for cash back on the purchase of a quart of Dark Robust Grade A Maple Syrup, and they were happy to oblige. Now the proud owner of $100 in green backs and a jug of maple syrup, I marched back over to the gentleman and claimed my window. I was super happy. Who would have thought such a special find would show itself at a Maple Syrup Festival in rural Indiana?