Sunday, September 13, 2009


It’s not often that my Saturday is filled with two social events containing the words “Stomp” and “Wild.” It’s more likely that I would be attending a kitten-petting festival or a nursing home soiree.

But yesterday, I attended the Carlos Creek Winery Grape Stomp Festival in the afternoon and a Wild Game Feed in the evening. Very exciting stuff for an old person. Be still, my beating heart.

Carlos Creek Winery was inundated with people—thousands of them. There were people from all over the country, hoping to win a t-shirt proclaiming “I Came, I Stomped, I Won” by trampling more juice from a half-barrel of grapes than the other contestants.

Most of the people just wandered through the vineyards, like Tom and me. But there were also those who took the Festival more seriously. One group of four middle-aged blond women had matching purple shirts announcing they were “Wine Divas” and sported flipflops to which they hot-glued purple plastic grape clusters. Musical groups played on three different stages: bagpipers, a country band, an Irish duo, songs from the ‘80s, and more. Food stands, crafts, art, chainsaw wood carvers . . . and people?!? People all over. Cars parked in neighboring fields. People lined up for miles for the wine tasting--$10 a glass for unlimited samples. The atmosphere was festive!

It was West Central Minnesota trying to be the Napa Valley, and it seemed to work.

Then in the evening, we were invited to a friend’s home for his annual Wild Game Feed: pheasant lasagna, elk chili, smoked duck, piles of deep fried walleye pike, smoked ribs. If you are vegetarian, your choices would have been limited. The cooking was done outdoors and we partied in the garage, which is where you must, by law (or at least by common decency) have a wild game feed. This is NOT indoor activity. Wild Game Feed participants’ dress code includes sweatshirts proclaiming your favorite college football team or your favorite sporting outfitter (Minesota Gophers, Lund Boats, and Cabella’s seemed to be the winners).

It was redneck West Central Minnesota at its finest.

I was kind of hoping that today would bring the same type of excitement: a public flogging? a pit bull fight? two rival gangs rumbling in the street in front of my house?

But it was more along the lines of church, a visit to the nursing home, a four-mile walk, and turkey burgers on the grill—and a little kitten-petting on the side. Back to the usual. Nuts.

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