Will goes to Ireland for Spring Festival
March 17, 2013
COLUMBUS: I just returned from three days in Ireland. But there’ll be no jokes about TSA or middle seats or green beer because this Ireland is in West Virginia. Every year the country folks around Ireland hold an Irish Spring Festival in the old 2-room schoolhouse they turned into a community center about thirty years ago.
Let me tell you about this festival. Every year they elect a king and queen and that election funds the whole year for the center. Yes, this election is different in that every vote costs a penny. At only a penny a vote, no one is left out. They start by selecting 3 candidates each for king and queen. The candidates are picked based not for their desire for a taste of royalty but for their “maturity” and willingness to have their arms twisted to run.
The oldest king was a 99-year old everyone knew as Uncle Bill. He had lived in that neck of the woods for all but a couple of years when he was in Europe helping us defeat Germany in World War I. No one ever had the nerve to ask the age of the queens.
The secret to the financial success is that you can vote early and as often as you want, with as many pennies as you wish to drop in the can. Or dollars. Nobody knows who’s ahead because the money doesn’t get counted until the “polls” close. And all the money goes to support the community center.
Just think, if we elected our President that way we could reduce the federal deficit. They say the candidate who collects the most money usually wins; this way it would be guaranteed. Everyone would contribute because, win or lose, it goes to a good cause. If the Koch Brothers or Michael Moore want to give ten million dollars for their candidate, let ‘em. Instead of it being wasted on TV commercials and annoying phone calls the money would go straight into the Treasury.
Here’s another idea the government could adopt. Nobody at the community center gets paid. Everybody volunteers. And nobody ever applied for a big government grant to organize the community. If they need to add a room, someone with a sawmill donates the lumber. Need to expand the parking lot? A bulldozer shows up, followed by dump trucks full of gravel. Once in a while the organizations that meet in the building – 4-H Club, Lions, CEOS – put on a pancake breakfast or ramp supper to make a little extra money.
Back to the Festival... after the new King Andrew and Queen Elizabeth were crowned, the fun included square dancing, Irish costume contest, hayride, Irish road bowling, bingo, a duck race in the creek and a parade on the main highway. There’s gospel singing and harp music in the nearby Methodist church. The festival will end Wednesday with a climb to the Blarney Rock on top of a hill in front of the center. In the parade, the King and Queen rode in style on a John Deere Gator. But they’ll have to walk up to the Blarney Rock to celebrate the vernal equinox; the hill is too steep and the path too narrow for a Gator.
Everyone has a high old time at the Irish Spring Festival, and without the aid of liquor of any kind, a rarity for anything Irish.
Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“I have been in twenty countries and the only one where American tourists are welcomed wholeheartedly by everyone is in Ireland. They don't owe us and they don't hate us.” DT #3, Aug. 1, 1927