Saturday, October 25, 2014

We Yammed It Up! Fair and fall food & October Sure Champ Post

Someday when I look back I'll realize how busy these days are.  With our country fair just ending and having the last week back to work, we've all been a little tired around our little community.  Our country fair called the East Texas Yamboree is a marathon of sorts for those who have children or help with putting on this fun annual homecoming for our town of over 5,000 that swells to some say 100,000 in the three to four short days we celebrate each year.

All 3 girls on the square...getting our Yam on!

Started back in the 1930's to celebrate the yam or sweet potato harvest and end of the booweevil that almost took them out, Yamboree has evolved into a full slate of activities.  Each child's favorite is always the old time carnival that sits on the streets around our courthouse and actually shuts down traffic.  Local clubs, churches and school set up their 'famous' food stands and people walk 'round and round' the square eating, visiting, listening and dancing to the bandstands live music, listening to our famous fiddling contest, and watching their children ride the carnival rides.  Some of the crowds bring their lawn chair and make a day of it.  As an educator school is thankfully let out for 2 1/2 days each year, because once those rides hit the square and the kids see it as their bus drives is over for us and it's countdown to Yamboree!

Union Hill Cheeseburger and chicken on a stick with lemonade!  Fair food at it's finest!

Audrey (center) and good friends Daphanie and Jaici riding rides on our cobblestone square.

Saturday Queen's Parade and Yam Queen Lexie's float!

For those that venture away from the square the livestock grounds house all the junior market animals shows that our local FFA's (Future Farmers of America) and 4H kids have worked on.  Each day brings a new show starting out with the rabbits and broilers (chickens) on Wednesday and then our market hogs and goats on Thursday.  Steers compete on Friday and Saturday heifers are shown culminating with our market sale for all juniors that showed animals that were sale worthy.  Thankfully after months of hard work our Audrey made sale with her hog Chop (the other one is named Pork) and the money will be placed in her college account.  Between her hogs for Yamboree and her broilers that she showed this week (the week after Yamboree) at the other local fair called the Harvest Festival our barn has been full animals along with our Herefords watching it all unfold!  Special thanks to Larry Cowan of Gilmer National Bank for his purchase of Audrey's 'Pork'!  As I write this post, later tonight Audrey will sell her broilers that she won Reserve Champion with at the Harvest Festival where her dad serves as President.  Watching and being a part of these two festivals and knowing those who put in the hours to organize, you realize the dedication and devotion these volunteers have in foremost helping our juniors reap the rewards.

Audrey and our dear friend and Ag Advisor Sue Witt coming down the shoot to the show ring.  We can never thank our ag teachers enough for the impact they have on our girls!

Showing Pork her hog...

Pork made sale!

Audrey in the Yamboree market sale with friend Kaitlyn holding the buyers gift basket

Oldest daughter Ilissa singing the National Anthem at Yamboree Market Sale

Our Yamboree building houses our yam pie and canning contest along with photos, arts and craft and quilt shows.  It's always fun to see what creations our kids make with yams.  My favorite from years past was a tree with yams painted to look like possums.  Don't know what a possum is...well you'll have to look it up!  ;o)

Queen Alexis Williams, 77th East Texas Yamboree Queen and her court!

On Wednesdays and Thursday nights our Civic Center houses our Queen's Coronation. This year's Queen Alexis Williams was radiant as she was crowned with her court full of her ladies in waiting, children to the court, dancers and visiting duchesses.  Our youngest Audrey was a Queen's Messenger this year and a part of the queen's court and got to dance in her first dance with her junior high friends.  Special thanks for Queen mom Irma Williams, Mary Jane Hamm - children coordinator, Kate Bailey and Lakyn Finney, and dance coordinator Carla Harrison of Footlights Dance Studio for a fantastic coronation.

Audrey and Queen 'Lexie'

Barbie 7th grade dance in the Coronation

For the first time in many years our football team honored our first state champion team at our homecoming game on that Friday night.  I remember that year well as my oldest daughter Ilissa's first year as a varsity cheerleader!  Buckeye football is a winning tradition and our falls for the past ten years have been filled with game after game of road trips near and fall to watch our boys play and our girls Ilissa and Bethany cheer.  Audrey as a junior high cheerleader now will hopefully carry on that tradition and mom and dad's Friday nights will continue to be full!  I got really tearful seeing all those young men of my memory now all grown up as 26, 27 and 28 years olds huddling up one last time a vision of the former team they were!  Most were there and one, our loved Josh Nelson who had gone on before them were honored for a championship that brought our small little town together.

Friday School Parade.  Special thanks for dear friend Calie Waller and her husband of Calie's Acre for letting us borrow their vintage truck!

Ending up our week was our annual party that I have now dubbed the Nolan Family and Friends Barndance party because we just can't put on the magnitude of this party on our own.  The men (Scott, David McQueen, Larry Bishop, Riley Hodges, Terry & Caleb Baker, & Galen Hutton) cook their catfish, frog legs, calf fries (look that one up), french fries and fried pies, and the ladies bring their sides. It's like a potluck to the max and we wouldn't have it any other way.  We mingle, visit and eat trying to make sure all the kids have eaten before they attend our Yamboree Barndance in town.  That 'official' barndance is an old time party in our retired school gym with Texas Country bands.  The party is usually more outside the gym than in and it closes at 11:30 at night when the lights come on.  My husband and friends are now just too darn old to attend and enjoy staying back at our ranch and barn while the younger crowds enjoy themselves in town.

Cooking crew...must have brew to cook...

Ilissa and her high school friends...almost all grown up now at 26!

My mom in orange, sweet cousin Natalie in black and friends Cindy, Deidra and Gayla

Bethany and best friend Molly who came in for Yamboree

Friend Cara made this precious Hereford pumpkin for our party!

My nephew Dain (in orange) and friends.

Jennifer Barton and her of my most faithful friends of The Ranch Kitchen!

Looking back as I write this especially long post today, I realize how special Yamboree was this year.  I'm thankful I got to spend it with my husband and girls most especially, but also my extended family and friends.  There are few things I love more than being with them, but also cheering on our youth in agriculture or hosting a gathering for friends.  Memories are made they say while you are making a life! I hope my girls live their life in such a way that they always remember to love who they are with, what they do and make every moment when you can as special as possible.

This month on my Sure Champ blog post, I shared some of the foods I planned to cook for my girls and Bethany's best friend Molly while they were home and in the coming days this fall.  These are the foods we enjoy the most this time of year and especially the yam pie recipe.  Each year before my girls go home I make sure they have some of a local friend Lori from Lori's Sweets and Eats 'Yam Tarts' before they return to school or work.  These tarts are always a great way to 'smooze' that professor or boss over that let my girls come home for a few days to be with their baby sister, daddy and momma!


As I close out this post, I'm already looking forward to our next Yamboree!  However more than that I realize how grateful we are to live in the moments that God has given my family each day.

Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen

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