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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Living in the Middle of a Carnival!

My, how our quiet little spot on the Bay has changed! Several weeks ago, the crew from the Town of Fulton came over and removed the Christmas lights that we enjoyed so much. 

I  was a little sad to see them go, but I needn't have worried. We're seeing more lights now than we ever imagined! I'll show you the process....

Here's our quiet view of the Bay from our sunroom....before all the excitement:

Then one morning last week we awoke to a repetitive ratchet-like sound. It went on and on, and we lay in bed trying to imagine what the sound was. When we got up to investigate, we thought at first that the snow from the north had found its way down to South Texas.

Then we realized that the white blanket was an ENORMOUS tent, and the ratchet sound was a reciprocating drill in a Bobcat, driving the tent stakes into the ground.

(Oh, at this point I'm going to depart from the story. See the blocky pillar in the foreground? There are two of those right outside our cottage. For months I thought they were rather unsightly pillars, and because I didn't know what they were, I was constantly cropping them out of my photos whenever possible. Recently my friend Phoebe informed me that they are the bases for the two original harbor lights at Fulton Harbor...relics from generations ago. So from here on out, I'll proudly include them in my photos!)

Throughout the morning we watched the tent go up in stages, and we found out that they were beginning preparations for the 36th annual Fulton OysterFest.

Suddenly our view of the bay was drastically changed. We couldn't see it at the time, but the next day when we took a walk around the area, we saw that they had erected an equally large striped tent behind the first white one. I asked Curt to stand halfway to the end of it to give you an idea of the scale. These things are HUGE!

Check out those tent stakes. They're at least an inch and a half in diameter; maybe even two inches!

Here's the inside of half of one of the tents...empty:

This one will hold all the vendors' booths for the OysterFest, while the other tent will house the food and beverages. People have told us about the OysterFest and have said that we won't believe the magnitude of it...especially living right on the edge of it. So we checked out the photos online of past OysterFests. They expect as many as 36 THOUSAND people here, right in our front yard! You'll have to look it up. Just google Fulton OysterFest and poke around a little. You'll be amazed. The proceeds benefit the Fire Department, updating equipment and providing protective gear for the local firefighters.

So back to the saga. On Monday we saw a huge, colorful truck come down our road and turn into the Convention Center parking lot across the street. Soon another followed....then another....and all the trucks lines up side by side in the parking lot.

The Pride of Texas Carnival had arrived!

And then we got to watch one of the most impressively choreographed operations we've ever witnessed. We thought our Mexico mission medical set-up was pretty slick. That's small potatoes compared to this operation! Over the next three days the crews assembled some amazingly intricately-engineered rides and attractions, from tame little kiddie rides (the Dragon that goes around on an oval track up and down gentle hills is right in front of our sunroom)...

To A classic Ferris Wheel, just down the road to the south... a couple of skyscraper-high thriller rides like the Kamikaze right in front of our swimming pool:

We've observed the hard-working crews assembling, welding, connecting vast electrical intricacies, then methodically cleaning, inspecting, double-checking every connection and moving part, and re-cleaning every seat, rail, handle, window, and polishing road dust off even every outer surface of each ride. Nothing was left untouched or unchecked. Finally, yesterday evening after 3 days of hard work, all systems were given their final check. All the lights went on, the music played, and all the rides were started (without passengers), as the crews and supervisors inspected everything one last time. Just at dark everything shut down and all the workers walked the two blocks North where the trucks are parked on a large vacant lot. The trailers of the trucks are now converted to bunkhouses for the crews to live in while they're here. There are also about a dozen large 5th wheel trailers, presumably for the supervisors and more permanent members of the operation.

This morning the workers got the morning off. They all had to report down here at 9:30, and apparently everything was operating satisfactorily, because at 9:35 they all headed back to their housing area with big grins on their faces. We've been watching the whole process with our binoculars, and we feel like we've almost gotten to know some of the crew members. Most are Hispanic, and all are very diligent workers. We've really enjoyed watching their interactions with one another.

At 2 p.m. today, a few of the supervisors drifted down to begin getting ready for the 5 p.m. opening. Both Curt and I were away for several hours after that, but when we returned, the operation was in full swing. In addition to the rides, there are many tents with contests and prizes to win (large stuffed animals and the like). There are also a few food booths. The one that I'm sure won't do well this year is the Slushie tent. Unlike other years (judging from the online photos with everyone in shorts and tank tops), we had a significant cold front roll in early this morning, with temperatures in the 30s and winds over 30 mph. VERY unusual this time of year in South Texas! So I imagine that's going to put a bit of a damper on the OysterFest this year.

But one thing that wasn't dampened was the fireworks display. They were set off from a boat in the bay tonight, RIGHT in front of our cottage, and they were spectacular! Photos never do justice to fireworks displays, but just to give you an inkling, here are a few shots...full moon, rides, music, much more exciting can it get???

This is just Thursday night. We have all weekend to go. The OysterFest doesn't end until late Sunday night. There will be lots of live bands, loads of artisan vendors, food and beverage vendors, oyster eating contests (for men and women), oyster shucking contests, and who knows what else? It promises to be an exciting weekend...and we get to live right in the middle of it! There's nobody closer to it than we are!

Who would have thought we'd find all this excitement in the sleepy little bayside town of Fulton Beach, Texas?

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