Monday, May 5, 2014

The Ramp Festival

I'd hoped to take a hike with Dad and Cade, and Dad wasn't opposed, exactly, but he'd already made plans to spend Saturday morning at a ramp festival with his friend Benny. They'd gone last year, he said, and really wanted to go, again.

The good news is that the ramp festival was more Baby-Chip-friendly (and therefore Jim-friendly) than the hike, also that--when given the choice between my brother's house and the ramp festival--Cade chose the ramp festival. We were six, then, in the minivan: Dad, Benny, Jim, Cade, Chip, and I. The road took us into the middle of nowhere or Morgan County, winding this way and that, and--having taken a seat in the way back--my stomach wasn't handling the curves so well.

"Last year, we followed the piles of horse manure in the road," Benny said, "but I haven't seen any, yet, this year," and I was just starting to think we were truly lost when we drove up behind a couple covered wagons.

The venue for the ramp festival was the old Mill Creek School.

When we pulled up, some picking and singing was happening on the porch.

I saw a few dogs decked out in costumes. They were in the back of a pick-up truck, at first, but then their owner got them out and paraded them around a little. One enjoyed a snack of horse manure; at least three of us witnessed it. 

I'm not going to point any fingers, but ummm...

Otherwise, the ramp-festival action took place under or near the pavilion, and shoo wee! In case you don't know it, a ramp is an intense sort of wild onion. I heard a preacher joke that he hoped his entire congregation would show up to eat ramps so no one would be offended, next morning, by anyone else's breath.

But in all sincerity, I was blessed, watching the preparation of the ramps (also gravy, eggs, and hog jowl). 

While the food cooked, Chip practiced going up the steps and down the slide, also drinking green tea through a hole in the lid of the bottle.

Meanwhile, Cade practiced waiting patiently.

Finally, the aforementioned preacher prayed over the food and encouraged us to dig in. Dad was first in line; in fact, by the time I got my plate, the silver bowl of ramps was empty, and Dad had been finished a good little while. He said later: he'd been standing at the wrong end of the table when the amen had gone up, year before, and he wasn't about to make the same mistake twice.

The Wrong End

There was a potluck element to the ramp festival, and I got myself a heaping plate full of food. Both my eggs and my potatoes included ramps and tasted delicious. By the time I'd finished eating, Dad had done his little bit of socializing and was ready to go.

Cade and I walked side-by-side to the minivan. "Well," I asked him: "what did you think?"

"It was alright, I guess," he said. "There wasn't much to do besides eat."

I shrugged and said: "Good eatin', though, and sometimes the fun of a thing is in watching someone else enjoy it. Your papaw's wild about eating off the land."

And seconds after I'd finished talking, we heard Benny behind us, saying to Dad: "Well, it was a good day."

"It was a great day," Dad responded with passion, and I watched pure joy spark in Cade's eyes as he turned toward me, raised his eyebrows, and flashed an ear-to-ear grin.


  1. Sweetest story about your dad ever, and your photos make me want to get right in that line for a plate of food!

  2. I enjoyed this story so much. And eating is one of my favorite things. Btw, what is a ramp?

  3. Very cool! I remember running across ramp "festivals" in the backwoods of WV when I lived over there. I also remember how we smelled a few hours after eating ramps! They're good, but WHEW!!! Odoriferous is an understatement. I'll bet that minivan was RIPE on the trip home! I can't imagine what Cade expected. It wasn't the county fair! HAHAHA But obviously he gets it, totally. Good times with the family!

    Peace <3

  4. you have a MARVELOUS crew. every single one of them. and that cade is so good at waiting patiently--i've witnessed his sweetness myself. :) love you bunches, and thinking and praying for you.

  5. You have the coolest adventures! I haven't had a mess of ramps in a long, long time. We like 'em with scrambled eggs and potatoes. I loved seeing through your lens again and taking it all in with you. :)

  6. Love this. Never even heard of a ramp. I thought it was a very special boat ramp.