Festival of Nations by bike

We spent Sunday morning in Tower Grove Park at the Festival of Nations.  Gabriel is three for three in attending the festival, having made it every summer since he was born (recap of last year’s event here).

We chose Sunday morning to avoid cutting into garden time on Saturday.  Matthew and I debated car vs. bikes for the trip — either way, we planned an early departure, to either get a good [car] parking spot or to have at least one leg of the bicycle trip be in somewhat cooler temps.

We were still debating on Sunday morning, when Gabriel’s new-found obsession with the car decided things for us.

Up until Saturday night, Gabriel’s experience with “driving” a car (i.e., sitting in the driver’s seat of a non-running motor vehicle and turning the steering wheel) had been limited to Baba’s vehicle.  After witnessing a couple of breakdowns when it was time for said activity to end, or when denied the privilege, I decided I would avoid the issue altogether by saying that only Mama and Dada could drive “Mama Dada ca” and limiting access to the front seat of our car.

Sir took this in stride.  Sure, he attempted to circumvent the rule now and then, but a reminder that it was “Mama Dada car” headed off any major issues.  Unfortunately, Dada didn’t know about this precedent.

Saturday night, after a long day at the garden, Matthew arrived home with Gabriel, and, after some tears, agreed to let Sir “drive” the car for five minutes while he unloaded the harvest.

Of course, Sir didn’t want to relinquish the driver’s seat after those five minutes, but he finally relented with out too much fuss.  However, he spent the rest of the evening looking out the window and asking for “ca,” while Mama shot dirty looks at Dada.

Sunday morning dawned, and someone had not forgotten about the “ca.”  Since Sir obviously needed a reminder about the other, more exciting transportation option, our decision was made — go by bike!

We pedaled to the park in pleasant mid-70 temperatures, though the day promised to be hot.  Arriving well ahead of the ten o’clock start time, we visited the playground to kill some time.

I should note that biking in the park ended up being tricky.  The northern road through the park, which is usually closed to motor vehicle traffic, and thus has plenty of room to accommodate two-way bicyclist and pedestrian traffic, was open to festival vendors.  We realized too late that we were in a suboptimal position, traveling the wrong way against the one-way, west bound flow of motor vehicle traffic, on a road made narrow with cars parked on both sides — accidental salmon!

Shortly after ten, we headed over to the Festival area, where we enjoyed almost having the place to ourselves for an hour.  Gabriel made a hat at the kids’ craft station, and we scoped out the food booths.

Before we settled on any food purchases, the sound of Irish dancing drew me to the main stage area.  We staked a quieter, shady spot with a decent view, and Matthew headed back to get some food.

We tried a couple of new items this year, including a flavorful Jamaican rice and vegetable combo and Burmese savory rice and spicy green beans.  The Jamaican won, although the green beans were also quite tasty.

We rounded things out with a veggie combo plate from the Eritrian booth, a favorite in past years that was disappointing this year, plus a couple of desserts, including a nice baklava (though our favorite from past years, the Iranian baklava, seems to be gone for good).

By that point, I was hot and tired, so we beat a rather hasty retreat, aided by our über-convenient bicycle parking.  We sailed down Arsenal and Kingshighway and were home quite quickly.

I’m glad we went, but I’m feeling a little burnt out on this event.  If my count is correct, I’ve been to the Festival seven of the past eight years.  Most of the food vendors offer similar items year-to-year, so between running out of new things to try, and old favorites disappearing or disappointing, the food is less of an attraction.  Add to that the end of August, almost-always really hot weather, and I have some serious temptation to sit this event out next year, or at least not prioritize attendance.

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