Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chilifest 2011

Some blog posts deserve a soundtrack.  In this case, let's use Charlie Robison's "Good Times". 
Just let it play while you read. 



Imagine 45,000 of our children jammed into a South Texas pasture, listening to music, dancing, and drinking beer. 
Lots of beer. 
As long as the next generation can get this creative with transporting their beer, our nation will be saved. 


The event is called "Chilifest", and they've been doing this in Shrum Snook Texas since 1981. 

Lord have mercy, what a party. This year the soundtrack was provided by Rob Baird, The Cody Johnson Band, the sheer incomparable mellowed-out greatness of Smooth Max Stalling, Emory Quinn, Sean McConnell, and the Bandera Texas Demigod and Patron Musical Saint of this website, Charlie Robison.  That was Friday. 

Saturday was the Bart Crow Band, Jason Boland and The Stragglers, Stoney LaRue, the Randy Rogers Band, Wade Bowen, and Dierks Bentley. 

The Aggie tells me that there were some other adults there who weren't police officers.  I didn't see them.  The next-oldest audience member was about half my age. 

This was at The Aggie's apartment on the morning we left for the show.  I'm holding an adolescent hog that they call Fat Kitty. 

The good people at Chilifest will allow you to bring in all the beer and (boxed) wine you want, but have a strict prohibition against anything else.  This was going to be my 11th or 12th time to hear Charlie Robison, and I've never experienced Charlie without Jim Beam.  I'm way too old to start any new habits. 

Some of The Aggie's earliest memories are of me using her like a Bolivian Cocaine Mule, taping drink, food, or Cuban cigars to her so that I could enjoy various events the way God intended.  But since The Aggie is now approaching adulthood, she could be thrown out of Chilifest without me if she got busted with my Jim Beam on her person.  I would be inside the fence, and my bottle would be outside.  That would be tragic.  I had to be responsible for my own supply.  I tucked a bottle into one of the folding chair carrying bags and vowed to get it through the Chilifest checkpoints or die trying.  

The Aggie has a new friend named John who rode to Shrum Snook with us.  He's a handy guy to have around, took me shopping for our supplies of consumables, provided the chairs, etc etc etc.  John has been powerlifting since middle school, and looks like he could whoop a fencepost if necessary. 



John and The Aggie got through the checkpoints first.  They only had some backpacks, I think, as our beer had been loaded onto one of our wagons (see pics above). 

I was carrying three folding chair bags, one of which contained my Precious Treasure, my Pearl Of Great Price, my Living Water.  The Chilifest staffers were looking through everyone's coolers, looking through pockets and backpacks, and in some cases opening up bottled water containers to make sure that they didn't contain Everclear.  I elbowed past some of the female security people with a wild look in my eye, screaming things like "Mary !  John !  Wait a minute !  Peacocks !  We have to find the killswitch to the system !!  Wait on the roots to my timing !!  This can't be the right one !!  Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa !!!!!" 

The female rent-a-cops gave me plenty of room, kinda like they probably did for everybody else who looked stark raving mad.  I was only a few steps away from freedom when one guy who took himself waaaay too seriously stepped in front of me and asked if my chair bags had been searched. 

I craned my neck around as if trying to look into his ear canal and yelled "Searched?  Bags?  Searched?  Mary !!  John !!  Mary !!!!!!   Search !  Search !   I'm gonna be searched over there and I'll meet you back at the car !!  Search !  Where do I remove pants ?? Search??"

The guy waved me through. 
Mission accomplished. 

Inside the campground and concert site, it was like another world.  There were hundreds of Chili cooking teams, each with their own distinctive look, theme, shirts, motives and soundtracks.  

Here's a creative use for a tent:


Every Chili "team" had their own T-shirts.  This one got straight to the point....


Here's a creative use of a quote from one of my all-time favorite books/movies, Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove:



Charlie Sheen references were everywhere.  Bi-winning.  Tiger Blood.  Beer-winning.

My favorite:



If these pics have a 1930's Oklahoma Dust Bowl quality to them, it's because 45,000 people can stomp up a lot of dust. 
Since our first wagonload was nothing but beer, John, The Aggie and I made a trip back to the car to get sleeping bags, food, and other necessities.  The Aggie, who has inheritied her father's sense of ridiculousness, got John to pull her in the wagon back to the car. 
A couple of the rent-a-cops looked at John and said "Boy, you're setting yourself up for a lifetime of misery."
True.  So true. 


Here's what the stage setup looked like:


I don't know who this is. 


I was wearing one of these John Jay Myers produced T-shirts.....


....which got me into some interesting conversations with a lot of the Aggie students.  They're overwhelmingly Republican, and can't quite get past the Libertarian insistence on getting the government out of people's bedrooms, medicine cabinets and personal lives.  When I pointed out that most of them were underage, yet drinking like fish, it helped make my point.  Maybe.  I eventually went back to our camp and changed shirts, just so I could be "old guy having a great time" instead of "old guy who is a political conversation piece". 

When I got to the camp, The Aggie had already gotten a tattoo.  Lordy, I'm so proud. 



I made it back to the stage, this time wearing something generic, in plenty of time for Charlie Robison.  He has a new band that rocks a little harder than the previous Enablers.  He sounded great and the crowd was loving every minute of it.  (If you've made it this far, it's probably time to play the Charlie Robison Youtube again up top.  Hit play, and get back to me.)
In fact, Charlie went over too well.  It got so crazy that they had to shut down Charlie's set about 2/3rds of the way through.  Bummer. 

The next day, we took one of our couches up to the stage area.  From left to right, that's John, Jordan and Tyler. 


Here's the look of the place in daylight. 


Jordan, John, The Aggie and Chris the cook. 


Four young ladies that I didn't know, but who were very friendly. 


I had a wonderful, wonderful time at this thing.  Can't thank The Aggie enough for inviting me, especially since fathers were such a rarity at the campsites.  Shrum Snook is a nice place, and the Aggie kids are incredibly polite, looked after me, made sure I didn't lose my Blackberry down in the craziness near the stage.  Well, MOST of the Aggie kids were polite and respectful....


I wasn't passed out.  I was just resting my eyes and brain for a while. 
Great weekend.  Good times.  I love my big girl so very, very much. 

Here's Charlie Robison's classic song "Photograph"




4 comments:

kerrcarto said...

That looks like a blast! I have GOT to get a hold of Matt. Maybe a little road trip to Bandera is necessary.

Harper said...

Yes, Kerrcarto, you MUST get hold of Matt. If not, you MUST scout out alternate locations.

Allen, that looks like one awesome time. Could you explain the Shrum reference? I'm feeling a bit stupid.

Nick said...

Well let's see:

I spent my weekend laboring through some crappy books trying to learn about accounting for intercorporate investments, post-employment compensation, and multinational operations.

While large amounts of caffeine were waging a losing war against the FDA- approved insomnia cure known as Accounting, I was treated to a concert of five different neighbor's dogs barking, one of those neighbors powerwashing his patio, and some teenage girl screaming "wooooooo" every five minutes.

After a week of studying, I still can't figure out how to consolidate two balance sheets after a merger which requires the advanced math skills of addition, subtraction, and some light multiplication assisted by an HP 12C with reverse polish notation.

Last weekend I learned why I got a PhD instead of a plumbing license as I changed a kitchen faucet and added a dishwasher air gap. Now I know what it feels like to be a battered woman bathing herself in the Ganges river.

My Barbie doll sized house which cost enough to buy a mansion in Ft. Worth with enough left over to have a condo on the Vegas Strip, a Maserati, a Mercedes SUV, a pony, and pay off all my student loans, is falling apart. The staircase was too small for the new China cabinet I purchased, so it has to go in the spare bedroom downstairs.

All things considered, I think you've been enjoying your weekends far more than me.

Is your company hiring? I'll even make coffee while Achmed and Mohammed are praying.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Harper,
I'm the one who was stupid.
I kept referring to the place as Shrum instead of Snook for some reason.

One kid was leaning over across the path in front of us, passed out while in the process of committing an act of public urination. With The Aggie and her friends looking on, I went up to the kid, tapped him on the shoulder, and said "Excuse me, son, I'm with the Shrum police department...." The kid mumbled something like "We ain't in Shrum" and stumbled away. The Aggies laughed harder at me than they did the drunk guy.