“Elephant Ears and Tractor Pulls” By Chad Robert Parker

For a small town our community held a lot of big events. Everyone knew everyone. We gathered for regular Friday night baseball games and you expected to see everyone in town at one event or another. There was yearly carnivals, fireworks shows, pig kissing, and art shows. Our town’s activities had a unique appeal, a unique identity: it’s own unique flavor, if you will, at least it did for me. I soon embraced it.

I ate my first Elephant Ear, a flat fried pastry covered in cinnamon sugar, at the Covington City Park. I went with my parents and rarely left their side. This was not because of their strict Mormon ways as many supposed, but simply because I was shy and the town’s ways were all new to me. Besides, I liked spending time with my family, even my parents, believe it or not. We tried our hands at the typical carnival games, unable to win a prize, being bested by the ring toss’s parlor tricks among other deceptively challenging games. I was never one for thrill rides. I saw the Carnival workers putting together the rides and I wasn’t certain I trusted their handiwork. There was rumor of several test runs failing prior to opening day. No, I didn’t quite get into that.

My favorite event of all was the tractor pull. I had never seen anything like it. At the time I would not admit how fun it was to watch. I was too busy trying to act like I didn’t identify with farmer boots, songs, or anything else related. But I loved the revving of the engines, the smoke puffing into the air, the tractors rearing back and mud flying into the faces of people pulled on a bed spring. It was hard not to pick a tractor you wanted to see win and to find yourself laughing and cheering with everyone else.