It is life in a small town.
This is the 70th year for the Puxico Homecoming, sponsored by the VFW. Family and class reunions are planned, Main Street is blocked and filled with nightly carnival rides and games to keep the young at heart busy. Non profit clubs set up booths to offer chances on guns, a toy car, a toy tractor, quilts, or a tool box. A few politicians are allowed to have a stand. On the last night we stop at each booth and buy chances for these items.
The first night begins with the contests to decide who will be Little Miss & Miss Puxico for 2016. This year honored all past queens. Mrs. Anne Smith was there to represent 1951, the picture shows winners from 1968, 1970, 1974, 1975 & 1980.
I was a contestant in 1968 when I was 16. I remember feeling nervous and uncomfortable. I didn't get called back for a second walk around the stage. I didn't expect to win but I was disappointed. My family from Texas was visiting and they cheered for me. I remember what a difficult time I had trying to choose the clothes I wore afterward to walk up & down the midway. The whole night was an important event. Later I put the glittered fan with my number in a scrapbook and never entered another beauty contest.
The VFW Food stand includes BBQ goat, hamburger and BBQ pork. The Ladies Auxiliary sells corn dogs. The Methodist Church sells fried potato chips covered with cheese. The carnival has food stands with funnel cakes, cotton candy, candy apples and popcorn.
I've worked in the goat burger & corn dog stands many evenings with my fellow teachers. I've sat at booths for the Puxico Library and car club selling chances to raise money for their future community efforts.
Every night has bingo, square dancing and attendance prize drawings. The high school band boosters manage the bingo stand. It offers players a chance to rest their tired feet and win a game. The square dancers combine a kind of clog step with do si dos. A group of musicians play the old tunes, sometimes a caller directs the dancing. I noticed a change occurred several years ago. When I was a child, everyone who wasn't on the dance floor stood around watching the dancing and visiting with old friends. Nowdays people bring lawn chairs to watch the square dancing and renew friendships. The last night the music is the best and continues til early morn. Everyone is exhausted but reluctant to let go of this special week.
Bracelet night occurs most nights to help families afford to return each evening. Special events include: Wednesday night - church in the park, Thursday - the Goatburger Classic golf tournament, Thursday night - music fills the park, Friday morning- babies aged zero to age 2 will be judged in various categories and Friday night alumni from Puxico High School meet. Saturday is the biggest day of all with an antique tractor show, classic cars on display, a parade winding through town with the local marching band, drawing for toys at 5:00, and the crowded midway.
I've been in the parade several times, once on the Future Homemakers' float, once holding my baby when he won in the baby contest, in classic cars, a rat rod, on a trailer with classmates for our 45th class reunion. I love waving to all the people lined up to watch as we go past, but I love watching the parade with the extended family even more.
Afterward the streets are cleaned and things get back to normal. We know because school begins midweek.