Letter From Home 5/30/10
When I drove past the coliseum at noon on Sunday every nook and cranny for a car to be parked was taken. Scores of people were jammed about the grounds. There was a carnival atmosphere in the air, mostly because it was a carnival atmosphere on the ground. Elvis had performed concerts there in the 1970′s, and given the throngs on hand as I drove to the west side for groceries, one might have thought Elvis was making a return visit.
But no, the King is still hanging out at Burger King, if the latest reports are accurate. What was taking place and creating all the excitement in Madison was ‘The World’s Largest Brat Fest’. It is now an annual event that takes place at Willow Island by the Alliant Energy Center, though I still term the whole place ‘the coliseum’. As I drove along I really wanted to be enthused about the brat-fest idea as much as all those in attendance. It is not that I do not enjoy a brat, as I do love to load them up with raw onion and the fixings like everyone else.
But I recall the days when the brat fest was smaller, simpler, and more pleasant to participate in.
When I lived on the west side of Madison I made a habit of going to each brat fest that was held at the Sentry Food Store at the corner of Midvale and University. I would park the car and James and I would grab a couple brats, greet the celebrity on hand who was helping, and sit down to eat. We often ran into someone we knew, chatted for a while, and had a pleasant time. It was a relaxing, easy, and fun thing to do.
Then something happened, and the small event had to be ‘bigger and better’. No longer could the small event be enough, instead there had to be a huge venue, a carnival, games, and endless enticements like fireworks to lure folks into buying a brat and spending hours of time and money.
When the brat fest ceased to be a parking lot event I stopped going. I am not a curmudgeon, or uneasy in large crowds. Quite the opposite on both counts. But I have negative reaction to the idea that everything has to be bigger to be better. I always cheer on the groups that work this event for the proceeds that help non-profits. But the whole idea of BIG IS BEST baffles me.
Based on the size of the crowds sweltering at ‘the coliseum’ on Sunday I fully understand I am in the minority. (Shocked!) Based on all those who I suspect drove by the event and recall the smaller and more pleasant version from days gone by I suspect I am in the mainstream.