Friday, August 8, 2008
Two annual celebrations
This weekend the VOR and friends will be heading for the 2nd Annual Wild Women's kayak trip to the Apostle Islands. Simultaneously, RonO, the ManFromSnowyLegs, myself, and a couple other fine ale aficionados will be headed for Madison and 10th (or so) annual Great Taste of the Midwest Beer festival. I kind of have mixed feelings, feelings which will disappear after the first sip of a great ESB of course, about not paddling this weekend. The new Q-boat is performing above expectations and I hate to leave it alone for 3 days. The latest skill to reappear in the Q-boat is the shotgun roll, precursor to the evil norsaq roll. I have come to realize over the years though, that an annual is an annual and must be attended.
There are a couple key elements to starting and sustaining an annual tradition. One would be some compelling event. The Wisconsin deer hunting and fishing openers are that type of event, things that people are going to go to anyway. The second would be a stable location. It takes some of the guesswork out and folks know where they will be headed year after year. The third element is to hold the event on the same date every year. If people have that date reserved on the calendar they are much more likely to attend.
When rolling a kayak a person needs to combine all three elements, the sweep, the snap, and the layback or you just ain't coming up. Its not quite that cut and dried with an annual event however. Our NCAA Frozen Four hockey championships violate element 2, a consistent location. That being said, we have passed on a couple locations that we deemed unsuitable for proper hockey viewing; St Louis and Anaheim. We attended a couple that we later decided were unstuitable, Buffalo and Cincinnati, but thats beside the point. Date is much more crucial. The annual Eau Claire River float trip celebrated its 36th running this year. On a couple of years attendance was sparse due to moving the date for weddings, graduation parties, etc. The Board of Directors decided it would always be the last weekend in June, a sort of 4th of July tuneup. The event is not quite as critical but important in its own way. Getting together to drink beer and float down a river in an inner tube doesn't rank with deer hunting opener or the Frozen Four as far as universal appeal but, like the Q-boat it has its own devoted cult following.
And so the two groups head off to their respective events, the women looking forward to an invigorating paddle, fine company, and the beauty of the Apostles. The boys head to Madison, anticipating excessive beer drinking, crude comments, sloth, and bleary heads Sunday morning. The two events could not be more different but both are anticipated, discussed, and executed with zeal, unerring focus, and good craic (as my Irish and English buddies would say). Outta here at high noon.......