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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Labor Day, Swappers Meet, And Life.

Yesterday was the first day of the long weekend. Having Monday off makes a weekend even more mystical. So, we celebrated by going to the Johnstown Swappers Day, which is actually three days long, but one day is enough, for us, anyway.

Swappers Day is a celebration. It was born around dogs racing across a manmade pond. It became more popular, and soon grew into an immense flea market. An immense flea market that covers acres. An immense flea market that brings thousands of people to the small Central Ohio community.

Food vendors are always a big draw, and Swappers Day is well supplied. Corn dogs, french fries, elephant ears, funnel cakes, fried stuff on a stick, even things that are not normally considered vendor food, chicken and noodles, cornbread and beans. Rows and rows of food, even a booth with Amish people selling homemade pies and cookies. Ridiculously good cookies, too.

What I really like about the event though is the opportunity to walk through miles of vendors, selling little pieces of the past. Small, trivial bits of American history. It might be a Jetson lunchbox, or a Nintendo game. There are things from modern history, many may say junk, but these are the artifacts of our time. 

In many ways it is a museum. For five dollars you an walk down the grass and dirt aisles and view the artifacts arranged randomly on folding tables or stacked on shelves. A blogger whose work I admire greatly once raised the question of what people from the past would think if transported to the present. A wonderful exercise, but these events make me wonder what future archaeologists and anthropologists will think when they unearth the minutia of the present.

It is as diverse as it is large.  Order and chaos in adjacent booths. One set of tables arranged neatly, product lined up straight, grouped logically, prices easy to see and understand. Two steps away is a jumble of used things, dropped from a box, and scattered by hand into one single, homogeneous layer of yesterdays dreams, and today's memories.

Guns, everywhere, guns, people walking around with rifles, pistols, shotguns, all displayed proudly. All for sale or trade. Guns laid out on tables, standing on racks, nestled comfortably in foam lined cases. You could not swing a dead cat without hitting somebody with a gun. Being from a small suburb of a large city it always surprises me when I am around that many guns. And knives, there were knives for sale everywhere. From the decorative knives that sell for a few dollars with aluminum like blades (whose only real function is to provide a few dollars to the seller) to the utilitarian, specialty knives made for cleaning game. Almost every bladed weapon imaginable, bayonets, machetes, swords, all for sale, all being carried around proudly. As a pacifist who worries about the condition of the world, all of these implements of destruction are a little unnerving. What is the fascination?

It was a very good day. We started with a good breakfast and before we left the event we had over
11,000 steps. Plus, there is something comforting about moving through a mass of knotted humanity. A herd like solidarity being around that many people. Moving along the path of least resistance, and stopping to admire the relics of days recently passed.  It is almost hypnotic listening to the bargaining over price, and intent. “Make me an offer,” was a common phrase. And offers were made, rejected and countered. Here is the best part, I am going to make a video, sort of a practice video for my big trip to Tennessee. If it is worth sharing (and it will be, it might not be worth watching, though) I will. Until then, have a great day, find a festival around you and dive right in, you will be happy you did.