Monday, August 22, 2011

Thoughts on the Lentil Festival

Every year, Pullman hosts the National Lentil Festival, which is a pretty big deal. I mean, for Pullman. This event, which the town spends a good amount of time and energy on (usually the poster designs are better than this year's), lasts a whole weekend--the weekend before school starts. This means that as WSU students pour into town with their modular furniture in tow, they stop at the giant pot of lentil chili and browse the booths before (or after) redecorating their dorms. Which means the Lentil Festival is the most crowded you will ever see downtown Pullman. Ever.

Somehow, every year, the Lentil Festival incites in me a sort of amnesia. It goes like this: I hate the Lentil Festival, but in the weeks leading up to it, I remember only a few highlights from my first Lentil Festival: a used book stand, a craft stand, and the novelty of lentil chili. Unfortunately, those booths were only there the first year. The rest of the booths feature fried foods, which I just can't find joy in with the crowd and the heat, or are advertising radio stations, WSU organizations, and various other town junk I couldn't care less about. There's also a beer garden, which I've never gone to, but which each year I think will be the highlight until I actually get there. After fighting my way through the shoulder-to-shoulder foot traffic, I find myself faced with a parking lot--no shade at all--and a line of people waiting (in the sun) to get a table (in the sun) to listen to mediocre music (which you can hear from the shade by the train tracks, anyway) and drink beer that is available all year round if you just poke your head into the local breweries (both of which are less than a mile from my apartment). And suddenly, seeing this, the lovely picture I had of the Lentil Festival is gone, replaced by stinking crowds and sunburns. What is the opposite of festive?

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