Thursday, October 29, 2009

Neewollah Festival, Independence, Kansas

Hi all -- Dianne here.

We're publishing three posts at a time this week, so scroll down to see the other two, if you are interested.

Roger and I have decided to be tourists at least one day a week on our days off. Yesterday we took advantage of a beautiful (albeit windy) day to check out the food vendors at the Neewollah Festival in nearby Independence, Kansas.

Neewollah ("Halloween" spelled backwards) was started WAY BACK in 1919 as an effort to provide positive activities for kids of all ages in place of the typical Halloween pranks. Today it has grown to be one of the oldest and largest celebrations in Kansas, featuring parades, a queen coronation, a carnival

and professional shows and entertainment in the

bandstand right in the middle of town.

Food vendors line the streets of downtown throughout the week, offering all kinds of tempting treats. (No elephant ears, though; must be a regional thing :-(

Roger here... This is really a cool festival. The five blocks of "state fair" food booths alone are worth the visit.

We had a delicious concoction called an Indian taco, that used Indian fry bread instead of a taco shell.

The fry bread was like an elephant ear without the sugar coating, though not as large.

We finished off with a cinnamon roll and coffee from another vendor.

Independence, Kansas is a pretty town of about 10,000 people. During Neewollah, the population swells to over 80,000! The celebration goes on for nine days, and includes activities like a 10k run, a chili cook-off, a great pumpkin contest, and much more. Roger really wants to go back this evening to see the Doo Dah parade (advertised as adults only). If the predicted rain holds off, we just might do it. The kids have their own separate parade on Friday, lest you think they've been left out of the fun.

I have always loved Halloween, and have been dismayed in recent years at how it has been watered down to a "harvest" holiday (at least in Indiana), with kids at school not even allowed to celebrate it. No such thing here; there are ghosts and witches decorating all of downtown, and the local school children help make decorations which are displayed in the downtown store windows, ghosts and witches and all!! The entire town of Independence is decorated with orange and black flags and banners.

I AM glad kids today don't feel the need to soap windows and do destructive pranks on Halloween. Is anyone else old enough to remember the wooden spools that were nicked on the edges, put on coat hangers, wound with string and used as noisemakers on unsuspecting homeowners' windows?? (That was a 1950s thing; I forget what they were called). I wish I could say I have never soaped a window, but that activity was still going strong in the early 1960s. My favorite of all, though, was trick or treating. (I have a real sweet tooth, so Halloween and even Easter were my favorite holidays). I will miss doling out candy this year to the Pendleton, Indiana trick-or-treaters. The house we just sold was right in town, so we went through BAGS AND BAGS of candy every year. I always bought the chocolate "good stuff," secretly hoping for leftovers.

I'm feeling nostalgic, since this will be the first year we won't be around our granddaughter on Halloween. I think I'll include some of my favorite halloween photos, just for old time's sake:

This first one goes WAY back to the 1980s, when our two daughters were little. (When they got older, they insisted on better costumes!)

The rest are photos of our beautiful granddaughter, Kaia, at different ages, either in costume or posing with our yard decorations:

As you can see in the last photo, even our "grandpuppy" Cinnamon celebrates Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone!!

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