Sunday, June 04, 2006

Counting Sheep in 4/4 Time (Final Version)

Today was full of potentiality. Beautiful weather...warm but not hot, partly cloudy but still sunny, and nothing on the schedule. After church, we thought about going for a bike ride, maybe even try out the Katy Trail and take along a picnic. So we got on the internet to check out the trail details and in so doing discovered that today was the last day of the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival. Billed as the "largest ragtime festival in the world," we decided against the bike ride and took off for Sedalia, Missouri. Now, we're not exactly ragtime fans. In fact, we barely know what constitutes ragtime. The words "boogie woogie piano" and "flapper girls" come to mind (update: turns out flapper girls came later...ragtime was a product of the early 1900's while flappers came along in the 1920's, but saloons and prostitutes were a part of, era, which seems a better choice of word than what I started to say, if you read the entymology of the word "ragtime"). Scott Joplin was the "King of Ragtime" and he hails from the region. We know that much. A quick scan of the events and extensive listing of performers and off we went, expecting to be dazzled by some great ragtime performances.

We weren't sure exactly where in Sedalia we were going, or what time the festival would end. We left home at noon, stopping at Panera for our usual scones and coffee, then we hit the road for the hour and a half drive to Sedalia. Sedalia is bigger than we expected. And quieter too, for being the host of the "Worlds Largest Ragtime Festival." When we got to town, we drove around looking for a crowd and eventually found ourselves at...well, at the Sheep Pavillion of the Missouri State Fairgrounds. It seems that today, Sedalia was also playing host to the Heart of America Sheep and Fiber Show. Yes! It's our lucky day! We know nothing about sheep and fiber, but if this is where God wants us, who's to argue with God? So we got out and had a look around. And who can resist this look, from the maker of angora wool?

And this! What in the world is this?! It looks like a creature out of Star Wars!

And then there was the actual competition...

...for which people had traveled many miles, some from as far away as California (and if you click to enlarge the picture, you'll see what a popular spectator sport this is). Watching them wrestle these beasts out of the ring was the most entertaining part, as they grabbed them by the horns and literally dragged them out, the animals squirming, kicking and squealing like children refusing to go to bed. It was all very entertaining, but it wasn't a ragtime festival.

We spent about an hour wandering around the pavillion, taking pictures, petting sheep and talking about buying that "Big Missouri Red" buck (emphasis on big). He was beautiful! And we thought he'd make a great lawn ornament alongside our horse, until someone told us that the bucks are vicious. Vicious? Yes. Darn. So we're still sheepless.

By the time we finally managed to weave (heh, get it?) our way back into town and ASK for directions, we learned that the ragtime festival was over. In fact, it was mostly over yesterday, but there had been one concert this morning (while we were still at church). We learned all this at the Ragtime Store, the only store open on a Sunday in downtown Sedalia. We did come away with 5 new ragtime CD's though (update: in response to certain criticism, let me clarify...while these are "new" CD's to us, ragtime enthusiasts covet the vintage of their music, treating each song like an antique collectible and so, even new performers, who are trained classically, generally perform old favorites as opposed to writing new songs). This will just have to tide us over until next year's Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival rolls around again.

More updates:

Scott Joplin was actually born in Texas, which I imagine explains why Eric is so concerned about getting Joplin's roots right. But he spent most of his adult life in Sedalia, MO. A nearby town, Joplin, MO was (correction of previous "update" here) not named after Joplin, nor Joplin after the town, nor did Joplin ever live in Jopin near as I can tell. It's all just a coincidence, if you believe in coincidences.

Joplin wrote a special song, called Cascades, in 1904 for the World's Fair in St. Louis, but because he was black, he was not allowed to perform inside the gates. So instead, he set up his band just outside the gates and entertained a large crowd for the duration of the fair. At least, that's what the owner of the Ragtime Store told us. We bought a CD with "Cascades" on it.

I also forgot to mention the Goober Burgers (a big juicy burger slathered in peanut butter) we enjoyed at the world famous Wheel Inn. ;-)

And that's a wrap!



At 3:11 AM, June 05, 2006, Blogger Rach said...

Boy that creature does look like he's straight out of Star Wars (assuming that it was a he!). Great way to spend an afternoon - doing something random! Well done!

At 6:40 AM, June 05, 2006, Blogger beth said...

Tim says, "The force is strong with this one." :) Poor sheepie - though I guess it probably doesn't hurt.

Sounds like a fun time!

At 9:58 AM, June 05, 2006, Blogger Eric said...

I dunno. The phrase "new ragtime CD" sounds overtly oxymoronic to me. I mean, are they still writing new ragtime songs?

And was Scott named for the city, or vice versa? And why isn't the festival in Joplin?

This is just your first draft, isn't it? I'll be looking forward to the final version. ;-)

WV: fecklek = Polish ragtime

At 1:29 PM, June 05, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

Rach, definitely a "he" as evidenced by his giant "he" parts (and as Tim seems to have noticed). ;-)

Poor sheepie, is right. He managed to get his multiple horns caught in the fencing everytime he tried head butting the sheep in the next pen.

Eric, I've updated, corrected and generally tried to enhance the learning experience for you with my "final" version (but I reserve the right to change it further at will). Getting it right the first time is not my specialty. ;-)

WV: rqpqner = ragtime performed by rappers


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