In 1979 I didn't know a lot about the Bedford County community of Bell Buckle. I knew that my MTSU biology teacher (Eugene Strobel) was the mayor, but I didn't realize what a tourist Mecca the quaint village would become.
Fast forward. Bell Buckle's 13th Annual RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival (June 16) pays homage to two enduring Southern traditions. It would pay homage to three enduring Southern traditions, but organizers thought the name 13th Annual RC Cola and Moon Pie and I Still Say "Hose Pipe" Is A Perfectly Good Word Festival was a tad too long for the banners.
The whole world is potentially aware of the celebration, because of a website that promotes Bell Buckle as "100 years behind the times and proud of it." While that slogan paints a picture more encouraging than the situation in the Tennessee communities that are "100 Years Behind The Times And Oblivious To It," I'm still struck by the incongruity of using the Internet to advertise being frozen in the early 20th Century. That's like using cave drawings to advertise the next generation of plasma-screen TVs.
More importantly, I fear that there will be an "arms race" of bragging rights among Tennessee communities. I suspect that The Town That's Just 30 Years Behind The Times will throw caution to the wind and pull out all the stops to catch up with Bell Buckle. ("Coy, we've gotta raise taxes and declare a state of emergency so we can be a whole hundred years behind the times, too!" "Maurice, if you don't start obeying Robert's Rules of Order, I'm goin' upside your head with this here disco ball!")
If you're less neurotic than I and can overlook such concerns, there will be plenty to do at the festival, including a 10-mile run, and arts and crafts fair, and a Moon Pie-eating contest. At noon the coronation of the RC-Moon Pie King and Queen will be presented. Once these new heads of state are in place, the clock starts ticking, as Pres. Bush will have until 12:30 to find some way to turn them against the U.S.
At 3:30 p.m. Bell Buckle will host the cutting of the world's largest Moon Pie. I'm sure many city slickers will dismiss this event as kitschy and corny, but I don't think frequenting the Dom Perignon and Paté de Foie Gras Festival automatically qualifies them to pass judgment. If Bell Buckle's festival was staged in one of their fair cities, it would probably involve the drive-by shooting of the world's largest Moon Pie.
And, oh, yes, what festival would be complete without cloggers? Says one admiring RC spokesman, "The cloggers are such a joy to watch. If someone could find a way to bottle their energy -- well, some &^%$#@ do-gooder would get it banned from school cafeterias! But I digress…"
In the 1950s the RC Cola and a Moon Pie combo was regarded as "the working man's lunch," and immortalized in a novelty song by Big Bill Lister. Ironically, I will miss this year's festivities because I have to work.
Don't let my misfortune deter you from a good time, though. Go ahead and enjoy the antiques, crafts, and activities. Just don't get too wild, or they may have to turn the hose pipe on you.
Note: Danny Tyree welcomes e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.