Friday, May 30, 2014

Fish Camp Fun


Once a year the Florida Dept of State allows an assemblage of crazies to "entertain" the people of Fl. It's call the Florida State Folk Festival and it's in White Springs, Fl. on the banks of the Suwannee River. It's one of the most palatable of events hosted by the State Dept.

Lloyd Baldwin, The Shining Dome of Enlightenment and the Holy Baldone is the Mayor of the Amahaha Fish Camp...a loose coalition of itinerant musicians from Al., Ga., Fl., and a few wild cards thrown in for good measure. Lloyd is retiring soon...after 32 years with the Suwannee Water District. I wasn't even alive when he went to work. The political wrangling that goes on to secure a place for the Fish Camp amongst the myriad of fine groups applying for space to perform at the FSFF is no easy task. Lloyd has his ways of negotiating.

 We are required to perform for dances, stage shows, and concerts. Our schedule was light this year, allowing for more free time...to conjure up more mischief. The Fish Camp has always had a theme...a quip, a spontaneous eruption of mirth, or a "foot paw" (hoof in mouth syndrome). Whatever and however it presents itself, the theme is taken to new heights by music, hops and barley malt and the fact we're all stuck there for 5 days.

This years' theme was presented out of the blue, thanks to Bud Freeman, a fish camp first timer, and new initiate. Janice and I were allowed to invited Bud to imbibe in the Fish Camp frivolity, and the Great Mandella was put into motion.

We spent the first part of the week at Suwannee River State Park training (eat, sleep, sample exotic food and drink, take bike rides hike, learn new tunes and laugh. I enjoyed watching the confluence of the Withlacoochee River, out of Georgia, and the Suwannee, with head waters in Okefenokee Swamp. The mixing and swirling of the brown Withlacoochee with the black water Suwannee looked like mixing a classic Black and Tan. Hypnotizing.

Thursday we arrived at White Springs.

 Bud was the new kid on the block. When the new dog shows up, everybody has to "sniff his pedigree" as it were. Bud mingled, set up his tent, met and talked to his new camp mates, and after an hour or so. I heard a Bill Martin laugh...Guffaw is more like it.  He's a lead dog laugher, you can hear him for miles.

Bud and Bill were talking about jobs, academia, etc. Bud and Mary, his wife are both Ichthyologist, and teach at UGA, and Mary's father. Dac Crossley also taught at UGA, specializing in parasitology. Bill was a high school science teacher for some 20 years in Al., a daunting task, I'm sure.

Bud, with a straight face,  related this Dac Crossley story to Bill Martin:

 Dac, on a plane trip, was sitting beside a woman who asked him what his occupation was.. Dac replied studied parasites; that he was a Chigger Parasitologist. The woman misunderstood, and thought he said Chicken Para Psychologist. Bill Martin jumped on it like a dog on a bone, as did the Shining Dome. The one liners went viral for the rest of the weekend.

 Bud had won his stripes, He became the resident camp Chicken Parapsychologist, Dr Wooster. News traveled around the campground that we had amongst us a famous Chicken Para Psychologist.

This became the theme for the weekend. Bud became Dr. Wooster, Chicken Para Psychologist for the rest of the festival. There were several conversations about the mental health of America's chicken flocks. No conclusions were drawn, but discussions were lively.

I laughed so hard at Fish Camp my cheeks still hurt.

Makes catching up on the farm easier, after a week of music and mirth!

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