Sarah, on the phone: And we're going to the Oatmeal Festival this weekend....
Sarah's hard-of-hearing grandmother: The what?
Sarah: The Oatmeal Festival!
Grandma: The what?
Sarah: The Oatmeal Festival, Grandma!
Grandma, confused: Can you say that again, sweetheart? It sounded like you said, well, an oatmeal festival.
Sarah: I did, Grandma! Lafayette has an oatmeal festival
Grandma, incredulous: Well, I've never heard of such a thing! What do you do at, uh, an oatmeal festival?
Sarah: Well, I'm not sure, since this is my very first one. But there's an oatmeal baking contest, and lots of oatmeal to eat, and a race, I think.
Grandma, even more incredulous: Ed is going to run a race with oatmeal???
Sarah: Er, no. We're not actually going to run in the race. We'll just watch. And I don't think they bring the oatmeal with them when they run. But it sounds like fun, doesn't it?
Grandma, shaking her head: An oatmeal race? Wait till I tell the girls at the beauty parlor about this. My granddaughter's going to an oatmeal festival.
And indeed I did, along with Mr. Tart and his parents! After a 45-minute wait in very cold weather outside of the elementary school whose gym had been transformed into an oatmeal extravaganza, we entered the food line. The oatmeal ladies ladled up huge bowls of warm oaty glop for us (they ultimately served hundreds of gallons that morning)
and then we saw oatmeal heaven: what the promoters billed as "the longest oatmeal toppings bar in the world."
The toppings included just about every fresh and dried fruit you could think of (coconut, strawberries, pineapple, and much more), all kinds of nuts (even macadamia!), many syrups, lots of candies (including sour gummi worms), and Nutella. And then after we made it through the toppings line, with raspberries rolling out of our bowls and chocolate sauce snaking down the styrofoam, our plastic cafeteria trays groaning under the weight of all this sugar and fat--completely counteracting the healthiness of the oatmeal hidden under its colorful spread--we saw the oatmeal pancake table. And then the oatmeal muffins. And then the oatmeal bars! We crammed our way into a long aisle to find places to sit at a table decorated with oatmeal box vases.
Warning: It gets pretty nasty when you arrive at the bottom of the bowl. You have lukewarm oats swimming in a sticky sludge of a disturbing color, thanks to the maple syrup that melted the M&Ms. But it was tasty until then!
You're probably wondering, like Grandma, what one does at an Oatmeal Festival. You can see video footage from the oatmeal cam here
. In addition to the 5K race--known as the "Quicker Quaker"--and the baking contest, you can visit the Oatmeal Spa
and see oatmeal-inspired artwork (sorry, we skipped that room) and do children's crafts with oatmeal boxes (we didn't) and have your picture taken as a Quaker
and have your picture taken with the Quakers
and finally, as all that fiber makes its way through your system, you can, at last, visit the oathouses.