Festina, Iowa isn’t even an official town, it’s an unincorporated area without a mayor or City Council to govern it. The unofficial mayor is my brother so he is the de facto Grand Marshall of what my niece refers to as the “epic” Fourth of July Parade. What began as a procession of kids pulling wagons down Main Street has grown into a bona fire parade. This year I was fortunate to be able to attend the parade because I was home to Iowa for a wedding. Festina is very tiny so the parade loop is not long, but the sidelines were filled with cheering bystanders and I was one of them.
Tractors were the vehicle of choice for many of the parade entries, there were no flower covered floats or convertibles carrying parade royalty. The colors were John Deere green, orange Allis-Chalmers and red Farmalls. These are the work horses of the Iowa farm and tractor loyalties are usually carried down from generation to generation. My father had John Deere tractors and my brothers have John Deere tractors. There were several restored vintage tractors in the parade and one very loud 1971 shiny orange Chevy Nova driven by my nephew who loved to rev the engine. Candy was thrown along the parade route and kids
scooped it up. My favorite were the cheese sticks thrown by a local dairy entry.
What surprised me the most was I really loved the parade! I was born and raised on a farm, but the city has been my home for almost 40 years. As I watched the parade and waved at each entry I realized the farm and rural Iowa still pull at my heart. I like the basic colors of the tractors, there is no Passion Fruit or Sky Blue tractor. I like the red barns set in green rolling fields and farmhouses surrounded by perfect green lawns, so big they need to be mowed with a lawn tractor. As I walked around a pond, I laughed out loud as many frogs hopped off the shore and ker-plunked into the water. If the algae was thick enough they could hop on water! On the farm, nature is so immediate, right there for the experiencing. Barefoot on hot concrete is no comparison to barefoot on the farm.
But of course it’s the people of Iowa who put the love in Iowa. Solid, authentic and compassionate people who love a good laugh, Iowans are able to cut through the cow, pig and sheep shit and get to the point. Talking about the weather is more that just small talk, the Weather with a capital “W” is a primary concern for the farmer. Sharing family stories while sitting on the porch with morning coffee or watching lightning bugs and 4th of July Fireworks on a clear Iowa night is pretty close to heaven.
With love to my family in Iowa, July 8, 2017.