Monday, March 1, 2010
To become a true Riponite, one must be Dutch and somehow be related to someone who owns one of the almond orchards. There are tall blonde people all over this town. The other way to become a Riponite is to emulate true Riponians. Because I am neither Dutch, nor tall and blonde, I will have to go with the second option.
This past weekend was the annual Almond Blossom Festival: The perfect opportunity to fully assimilate. Almond Blossom is the town’s treasure, it celebrates almonds: Ripon's bread and butter. Although the festival is really no different than any other festival, I wouldn’t dare say that to a true Riponite…as they think it is the best thing since…well, almond butter.
While visiting with my friend Casandra, (a second class Riponite) I was looking at the Ripon Record which was completely devoted to the festival. I saw a picture of the Almond Blossom Queen and the princesses. It hit me right then and there that becoming Queen of the Almonds was the best way to gain my Ripon glory. As we looked at the Almond Blossom schedule of events, I planned the best way steal her glory and take the crown.
First I must start out by pronouncing Almond as Amond. True Riponians say “amond”. Some people say that once the almonds are knocked out of the tree, it “knocks” the “L” out of the word almond…thus creating amond. Although I think this is rather silly, I tried to say amond all weekend as loudly as possible so people would think I was Dutch.
Casie then suggested that I change my last name to Van derLehr. Many well known Dutch people of Ripon have last names starting with Van. We tested out Van Lehr, but it didn’t pack enough punch. So we went with Van derLehr. I refused to talk to anyone unless they called me by my new name, Jessica Van derLehr.
My Almond Blossom schedule (printed in the Ripon Record) told me that I would have to get up early and go to the pancake breakfast Saturday morning. Danny went with me, which was good because he is tall and blonde (although not Dutch). The breakfast was fairly good for being made for a massive amount of people. The eggs were pretty gross, but I ate them anyway to get my protein. Casie had promised me bacon, so I was disappointed when ham showed up on my plate. The pancakes were delicious though. I am not really a fan of maple syrup so I was pleased that each pancake came with a pat of butter. At first I loudly protested the syrup, because of the Olympics and our rivalry with Canada going on. Then Casie made the suggestion that the syrup could be from the sap of an almond tree. So I pretended to enjoy it.
Next was the diaper derby. We had two friends with little boys who were planning on entering them in the race. These babies are not Dutch, so I had to keep my cheering to a minimum. The derby was held in the Ripon High School gym. I have never been in this gym, as I grew up in Manteca, but it was nice enough. Danny was excited because they had wrestling mats out for the babies to crawl on. We later saw a baby dressed in a wrestling singlet, which made Danny very excited. The MC of the diaper derby took her job very seriously. She said that she had never missed the Almond Blossom Festival since she had been alive, besides 1970 something when her daughter was born on the weekend of the festival. I decided this is why the participants must be under a year old, unless they turn one during the Almond blossom festival. She must have wanted the diaper derby victory bad. Unfortunately my little friends did not win the derby, probably because I didn’t cheer loud enough.
Danny conducted an informal survey of the top 6 diaper derby participants’ mothers. He found out that all of the babies were very close to turning one or had turned that weekend. Interesting. We decided that when we have children, we will have to time the birth so that the baby will turn one the weekend of Almond Blossom. Danny is a PE teacher/ trainer, so he will definitely get our baby in tip top derby shape. Surely being mother to a diaper derby legend, will help is my quest for Riponization.
Next it was time for the parade. Danny got to push little Ryan in his stroller, so he was happy. Once we got to Main Street, we found a nice little area to sit. The rain clouds were rolling in, but Dave (Casie’s father in law), assured me that for some reason it never rains on Ripon’s parade. Pam (Casie's mother in law), said it is because there are a lot of God fearing people in the town of Ripon. I have to agree, as there are churches on every corner. The parade was fairly boring, but I pretended to be excited. I spotted the Queen of Almonds, whom had horrible pageant waving form. She moved her hand too quickly, I showed everyone how a true queen should wave and they agreed. Later we saw an almond shuttle cart…this is what is used to take the almonds back to the almond huller. The cart got a lot of applause from the Riponians. I took notes, for a possible Almond Blossom quiz later on.
After an afternoon nap, it was time to go back out and soak in all things Almond Blossom. We went to the fair section, where there are rides, knick knacks, and deep fried treats. We mostly concentrated on the deep fried treat section. We consumed cinnamon sugar donuts, pepper steak sandwiches, and of course a fancy funnel cake. A fancy funnel cake has strawberries, powdered sugar, whipped cream, Bavarian cream, and chocolate all atop of a crispy fried funnel cake. When Danny and I decide to not eat healthy, we go all out.
As I was scarfing down my pepper steak sandwich, I saw the queen and princesses walking around with their little tiaras and their fancy prom dresses. I thought I could totally do that. Except at the moment I felt that with one of those dresses on me, I would look more like a deep fried Twinkie than Almond Blossom royalty.
Every Saturday evening of Almond Blossom, there is a dance at the community center. It is put on by the Quarterback Club. Basically, it’s a Ripon High School reunion. I have never been, but to be a true Riponite I must attend. The Ripon Record said that the Almond Blossom Queen would be there. I decided I could start dancing by her. Perhaps knock her with my Bavarian cream filled hips? The crown would fall off her head and conveniently fall onto mine. The plan couldn’t fail.
Well the plan did fail. My friend Melisa happened to have her birthday party on what was supposed to be my Ms Almond Blossom transformation. I couldn’t back out of Melisa’s party. I ended up having a great night at Melisa’s, it was probably more fun that having to wear a prom dress and smile all day. Besides I’ll never be tall and blonde, say amonds, or be a Van derLehr. I do however, like almonds. We even use almond butter instead of peanut butter. I also don’t get allergies when all the blossoms are out like most people. I live here and I love it. And I’m pretty sure that's what being a true Riponite is all about. Besides once baby Van derLehr takes the diaper derby, I’m sure we’ll be the envy of all Ripon.