Every year for many years, we could count on my parents to stock our pantry with cases of home-grown pickled asparagus due to their abundant asparagus field and their talents in the kitchen. Even if we told them we still had plenty, my dad would say something like, “It will keep for years, and you never know when you’ll need it.” That was my dad. My mom, too, but mostly my dad.
The asparagus crop of 2019 produced much more than we could use. My mom tried to keep up, and she did pickle some, but being only six months after my dad had passed, she was still a mess. And it was overwhelming.
The fridge was full, the pressure cooker was cooking, piles of asparagus covered the counters, and pounds a day kept getting cut.
My brother had given so much to the neighbors, that when he tried to give them more, they sighed and said, “I still have plenty from the last time you came over!”
“What are we going to do with all this asparagus,” I exclaimed, sometime after I had arrived on April 19th, 2019.
“We can have an asparagus festival,” my brother said jokingly, at which I heartily laughed.
We had recently and frequently discussed how the small towns of Hastings and Waurika have so many festivals. It took us by surprise, I guess you could say, to hear about a different festival every other day. The fire department’s fish fry, the Sorosis Club’s fundraiser, the high school band’s breakfast, and that was just in one week. Every week last spring, it seemed , was like that. The all-day long and into the night event, “Meet Me Downtown,” was my favorite. I won $100 MasterCard gift card playing bingo that night, courtesy of FFNB.
So when my brother said, “Have a festival,” it was really for the chuckle. But I was like, “Yeah, let’s do!” My mom was like, “No, I do not want to do that.”
Once I convinced her that it wasn’t going to be an actual festival, it was just going to be me handing out bundles of asparagus after the Wednesday lunch at the Senior Citizens Center, she consented as much as I could expect her to. Oh, and I threw in a promise to do my best not to embarrass her.
So we, my brother and me, with our mom’s consent and our dad’s blessing from heaven, held “The First Annual Asparagus Festival” on May 1, 2019, and it was a hit!
Thirty bundles, almost a half-pound each, I gave away in less than a half-hour. “You know,” my brother (the idea-man) said, “saying it is a ‘First Annual’ denotes there will be a second.”
“Yep,” I concurred, “I guess we’ll just have to make it an annual thing!”
There was quite a spread served-up today at the weekly Wednesday lunch (as usual) and thankfully a handful of people walked in right at noon, helping to keep the Hastings Senior Citizen’s Center open. Six bucks is all it costs to have a home-cooked meal, including dessert and an ice tea or ice water. The money goes toward paying utilities and insurance on the building, so that it may remain open and available for rent.
Several of the area’s residents each bring a dish to donate for the cause. There is generally a variety to choose from for all courses – the main course, side dishes and desserts. I like to try everything. Today, to save room, I mixed together two different side dishes and thought, “What a coincidence, they are both pickled!” Or were they? I don’t know, but I know they were both good that way.
A few of the folks who frequent the lunch went to high school with my mom and dad. I think that is neat. We sat with one of such friends at lunch. This person also attends the UMC in Waurika and we discussed how much we loved last week, seeing The Master’s Storyteller, and discovered we have had the same song rolling around in our head ever since. So, again I will say but in another way, if you ever get the chance to see Wesley Putnam, The Master’s Storyteller, I highly doubt you will be disappointed.
And, if you ever happen to be in the Hastings, Oklahoma area on a Wednesday promptly at noon, stop by the Hastings Senior Citizen’s Center for lunch. Not only will you get a great meal for only $6, you will be helping the whole town. No one wants to see the Center close down. It is located on Main Street across from the post office and available to rent for most occasions.