Walnut Valley Festival - Winfield
Zach got the text from his dad in June, “&%$*!! No Winfield.” We were gutted. Like most events of 2020, Winfield was canceled. We understood, of course, but it didn’t change the disappointment. After a week or so of such intense moping it would have thrown Eeyore into a depression, we decided to host a backyard family festival. (Dad eventually dubbed it “Kinfield.) Just to clarify, this was not a large event. It was the four of us and Zach’s mom and dad. We were outside, wore masks, and maintained social distance the entire weekend.
The folks at the Walnut Valley Festival Association put together online events that took place the third weekend of September, the traditional Winfield weekend. We started our Winfield on Friday. Zach took off work and set up tents and our canopy (no pop up camper this year; Taos came into our lives a few months after this). We got a nice fire going and stocked the cooler. Mom and Dad arrived in the late afternoon.
This would have been the boys’ first year at Winfield, and Zach was determined to bring as many elements as possible from the real thing to our backyard. Each meal and snack was carefully planned, events thoughtfully scheduled, and coffee was outside and available at all times.
Friday night we put up some lights, settled into our backyard camp, and made some dinner over the fire. Singer/Songwriter John McCutcheon put together a welcome video so we set up the projector and speakers and watched this together at dusk. It was a very “Winfield” evening.
Saturday morning came quickly and all were up and ready to get going! Trying to squeeze in as many Winfield traditions as possible, we opted for two breakfasts. We made a simple “shipwreck” breakfast which is just eggs, meats, hash browns, and veg in a pan. You could eat as is or make a burrito. Zach's Mom and Dad also brought glazed donuts. They weren't straight off the tractor like at the festival but the boys sure did enjoy them! The festival association had concerts streaming all day starting at 10 am, so we set this up to the side on a laptop and speakers. Walking over and watching was like walking to a stage.
Zach’s Mom did her mom thing and brought a classic Winfield toy for the boys. If you grew up at the festival you know about this but it’s weird to describe. The kids at Winfield would make them then play with them for hours. You take a string and attach it to a small cloth bag filled with dry beans and on the other side attach a ribbon. Sounds as simple as it is, but throwing things in the air that look and sound neat is serious entertainment for a kid!
For lunch, we made Pie Irons. Dad brought the ones they’ve had forever. Zach used them when he was the boys’ age. If you aren’t familiar, it’s just a cast iron housing for bread that allows you to make grilled sandwiches over a fire. They are arguably messy and maybe just equal bang-to-buck ratio but they’re a classic. That afternoon we got our instruments out and played a little, enjoying the company and sunshine.
As we got toward evening we prepared for our dinner; another Winfield classic, giant turkey legs and corn on the cob. The turkey legs are the kind you see at just about every country fair and Zach’s mom had sourced some online and brought them over.
That evening's music streams were set to be amazing and, though we had the music on, we spent a lot of time just talking and catching up. It had been a long year and we enjoyed the company. We leave the festival most years physically exhausted and emotionally reset. Our hearts once again full, we head home ready to embrace reality. This year we didn’t really leave reality, but instead, invited in the fantasy that is Winfield. We learned to embrace reality while staying firmly rooted. It was not a bad Winfield. It was not the best Winfield. It was the Winfield we needed and for it we are grateful.