Happy Birth-, I mean FIELDday, Dad!

30 Aug

Today is a very important day in our family.  One that should certainly not go unrecognized.   It’s a date that Stacy and I are expected to remember every year, and as the end of August draws near we receive countless reminders that the preparations are underway.  The anticipation is palpable.  And even though on the surface it would appear that this day is just about Dad, we must never forget that Mom’s role in making sure that everything comes off smoothly is crucial.

You see, today is Field Day.

Oh, yesterday also happened to be Dad’s 60th birthday.

But Field Day, that’s the big deal.

Unless your father also happens to be a Seed Corn Salesman or you’ve done an anthropological report about the major events in the lives of corn farmers you might be wondering what a Field Day is.  Well you’ve come to the wrong place for answers.

Neither Stacy nor I have ever been to a Field Day.  We don’t know exactly what the Big Hub Bub is about, but we do know that it is a Big Hub Bub.  And over the years we have been able to piece together what we assume is a fairly decent picture of the event.  This is what we do know about Field Day:

Erase all images of Three-Legged Races and Standing Long Jumps.
Field Day is not to be confused with Track and Field Day.  As Dad would say, “I don’t know where you’re from, but here in our parts we call that them there a Track Meet”  Okay, Dad would never say that.  He uses good grammar.

The food preparation for Field Day rivals only that of Christmas.
Approximately two weeks before Field Day Mom starts baking and cleaning like nobody’s business.  We get disjointed e-mails from her that read something like this:

Just look at that spread. Yuh-hum.

Field day . . . 11 days.
35 dozen monster cookies
pumpkin bars,
picnic bars
scotcheroos
potato salad
broccoli salad not done
must can tomatoes . . .

Our mother, who also uses good grammar, is reduced to nothing but a walking, baking, list of a woman.

The household preparation for Field Day rivals only that of nesting.
Last year as Mom and Dad were in the throes of Field Day prep I was nearly in the throes of labor.  With Twins.  While I didn’t have the physical ability to do much but point my finger and complain about the thirty-odd projects that I wanted done before the babies arrived, they were at their own house doing their own thirty-odd projects.  Re-siding the garage, power-washing the old shed, mowing the extremely large lawn,  weeding the garden, building picnic tables.  All I wanted was for the Christmas decorations to come down.

On Field Day my father serves Cowboy Beer.
Dad makes beer.  Good beer.  Delicious, substantial, manly beer.  On Field Day dad supplies his guests with their favorite drink.  Cowboy Beer.  A faintly flavored and tinted beverage that has no place in my parents refrigerator the other 364 days of the year.  And although I think he attempted a batch once, my Dad doesn’t waste his brewing talents to fill the red plastic cups for this event.

On Field Day a bunch of farmers and their wives eat a lot of brisket.
My parent’s serve absolutely delicious brisket on Field Day, and apparently the deliciousness of the meat is a key ingredient of the day. It is possibly the reason some customers choose to come.  We’ve heard tales of men sitting around for hours eating sandwich after sandwich of the tender, succulent beef.   And while there isn’t much to the preparation of the meat, the act of acquiring it is fairly complicated.  You see, the brisket comes from Sam’s Club.  Mom and Dad are not members of Sam’s Club.  That means, that in order to possess the meat that draws the crowd they must connect themselves to a Sam’s Club Shopper.  We are members, but Michigan is pretty far from Ainsworth in terms of meat transportation.  Omaha is closer, but Stacy is no longer on the Sam’s Club roles.  Instead she must enlist the assistance of her in-laws to help lasso the elusive cow our parents need.

There is a Field.
For years Field Day actually occurred in a field.   They would haul tables, and chairs, and roasters, and salads, and desserts, and beer, and anything else that they might possibly need out into the test plot (a field where they have planted a bunch of different varieties of corn close together.)  Several years ago they began using the my uncle’s field across the road from my parent’s house as the test plot and this allowed them to have Field Day in the comfort of their own garage.  They’ve never looked back.

Field Day has a purpose.
But we’re not completely confident we know what it is.  My best guess is that it’s sort of a cross between a Customer Appreciation Picnic and a Look What Great Results Our Hybrids Get Party.  I don’t know if people wander across the road to see the corn.  I assume so.  I do know that Dad put’s up a lot of signs, but you can read those from the driveway, so it’s hard to say.  I would venture to guess that the women and children probably stick close to the scotcheroos, but then again, I could be wrong, because . . .

We’ve never been to a Field Day even though our Parents seem to have forgotten this.
Field day is now such a monumental event for them that I suppose it’s difficult to remember that when we lived at home Dad didn’t sell seed corn. Pro-boxes, and pallets, and soy beans, and semis, and hybrids weren’t part of our everyday lives as children.  We try to keep up with these changes and someday I hope we can make a late August journey to Nebraska and experience what seems to be the culmination of their day to day life.

Until then I must be content with my own romanticized images of men in Pioneer caps holding a red cup of beer in one hand and the world’s yummiest pumpkin bar in the other sharing big belly laughs over old farmer stories while their wives kindly assist my mom in refilling the salad bowls.  Happy Field Day, Mom and Dad!

(Oh, and Dad,  Happy Belated Birthday!)

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7 Responses to “Happy Birth-, I mean FIELDday, Dad!”

  1. Rachel August 30, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    Field Day is quite amazing!

    • Christina August 31, 2011 at 8:06 am #

      I’m jealous that you’ve been. Someday . . .

  2. Mom August 30, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    I think maybe I could just include this explanation in my Christmas letters. We have so many friends who have no idea what a field day is. You’ve done an excellent job, especially since you haven’t been to one!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Christina August 31, 2011 at 8:06 am #

      Hoorah! We got it right!?!?!?!? Unbelievable.

      • Mom (of these two crazy bloggers) August 31, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

        Dad and I enjoyed reading it together after everyone left (11-ish) – laughed ’til we cried – we may have been tired. The only thing you missed was that the farm wives do not help me – they just all sit and visit or wander through my gardens.

  3. Diane August 31, 2011 at 1:57 am #

    Grew up attending Pioneer Field days at my uncle’s farm. Great memories….
    Now my brother will host field days at my parents farm. Pouring cement in the Morton building soon.

    And my uncle’s b-day was this week too…..

    Happy Field day!

    • Christina August 31, 2011 at 8:08 am #

      It sounds like they had a good one – I hope you’re brother’s also goes well!

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