Fall is officially underway once again, and there’s no better way to kick off another season of autumnal fun than taking a trip down to Nebraska City for the Applejack Festival. We crashed at the firehouse for pancakes once again (per tradition), and bumped into Jenny and her family along the way. We skipped down to the library’s used book sale, checked out a few sights, and then drove by Arbor Day Farm for Apple Cider. We finished things off with a nice, long trip to the Kimmel apple orchard in the afternoon, where Hannah got to have her first pony ride. She was a little nervous at first, but she was soon asking for more as soon as the ride was done.
Of course, we couldn’t leave without picking a peck (or two) of apples in the orchard. Hannah got to see some apples up close and personal and found one small enough for her to pick herself. We also stumbled upon some ripe plums and Asian pairs hiding around a corner, far away from where the hay rack ride usually deposits everyone. I’d never had a juicy ripe plum fresh off the tree before, and Hannah instantly found a new favorite fruit.
Meanwhile, the Cowtown Jamborama had been going on since Thursday. Vivian had been able to drop by Thursday night and Friday during the day, but we saved our time, energy, and feet for Sunday night’s festivities. First up was the infamous corn-eating contest in the lower level of the Eagle’s Lodge. Hannah had already been practicing with an ear of corn at church and was more than eager to take on a whole gang of kiddos who’d come to compete for the title of baby corn-eating champion. She did all right for a one-year old but just couldn’t stand up to her ten-year-old competition.
Immediately following the kids’ competition, naturally, came the adults, and much to my surprise, my name had been somehow added to the list of competitors. Seriously, I didn’t sign up, but neither did I back down once someone decided to sign me up. It was eight minutes or nauseating yellow mess, but guess who came out on top for the second time? Yep. Vivian also managed to break her third-place streak by coming in right behind me, followed closely by the ever-corny Ben Cass.
After a few hours of recovery (and time to shuttle Hannah on home for some babysitting courtesy of the in-laws) it was time for the main event: an evening of swinging music with Johnny Boyd and his band. Johnny Boyd was the vocal talent behind the neo-swing band, Indigo Swing, which I had been introduced to by my old friend Legostar many years ago. The new ensemble sang all my old favorites, as well as several new ones, and Johnny’s voice hadn’t changed a bit. I’d done the Lindy Hop to How Lucky Can One Guy Be countless times, but I never thought I’d be doing it right in front of the man himself right here at the Eagle’s Lodge.
There was a solo Jazz competition somewhere in-between sets, and I stuck around for every song of the night, despite having to get up early the next day. I’m glad I did, since Johnny stuck around to meet and greet fans afterward, sign autographs, and get pictures taken with him. He’d performed in Omaha years ago at the Stork Club during the height of the swing revival in the late 90s. Several people in attendance (cough Lisa cough) had remembered those days quite well and hung around to gab about old times. It honestly made me think about how darn fond I am of this swing-dancing crowd that’s still been jumpin’ after all these years, and I’m happier than ever to be a part of it.
Special thanks to Nate Woodhams for helping to bring one of my favorite musicians of all time to Cowtown.