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Festival Report

Okay, here is the report about my adventures with the beer swilling, steak munching, belching, farting real men I hung out with at the Stoudt's Festival this weekend.

The group consisted of myself, my brother Jim, Jim's brother-in-law John Wallowak, Dave (a fellow contractor friend of John), Dave's brother Joe, and a friend of Joe, John, dubbed newbie-John to distinguish him from John Wallowak and me. Dave also occasionally called me Bob to avoid the confusion of Johns, but this simply created more confusion.

I leave the house at 7:30 A.M. Saturday and listen to avocadonumber's CD all the way down to my brother's house in Harrisburg. Jim is in a rush to get to Adamstown, so one drink of water later we are on the road and Jim's lead foot gets us there in no time. Jim is disappointed to find that neither the Stoudts restaurant nor the restaurant at our motel, the Black Horse Lodge was open yet. Jim usually likes to get a jump on the beer drinking by partaking before the festival starts at noon.

The rest of the guys show up at the Dark Horse between 11 and 11:30. While John W. and Dave went on a wild goose chase in search of a K-Mart to buy a CD player and a basketball for the evening, Jim and I took the shuttle bus to the fest. I was solidly determined this year to pace myself so that I could still taste the beer by the fourth hour of the festival and to eat lightly at the German buffet. So much for pledges. I was carried away by Jim's enthusiasm when we got into the main hall and did not begin to pace myself until after stuffing myself at the buffet at 2:00. Sanity took hold after that and I was actually in good condition at 4 when the fest ended.

If my notes are correct, I sampled 21 beers from 14 different breweries. It is possible that I failed to note a beer or two. Favorites were a refreshing Belgian Seasonal from Abita Brewing Co., a Belgian Triple from Allagash Brewing Co., Wee Heavy Ale from Captial City Brewing Co., Devil's Milk from DuClaw Brewing Co., and Milk Stout by Lancaster Brewing Co.

After some grocery shopping, we began grilling in the picnic area behind the Black Horse. London Broil that newbie-John had been marinating for three days. Corn in the husk. Italian sausage from New Jersey. Green peppers and zucchini. We drank some Stoudt's Fest Beer and IPA we had bought at the festival. The day and setting could not have been more beautiful--brilliant sunshine, comfortable temparature, fields of green. We engaged in stereotypical guy-talk.

Joe and newbie-John left for another party after dinner, and the rest of us continued our guy-talk on the motel balcony overlooking the swimming pool, With John W.'s 1960s-70s classic rock and blues music blasting in the background. At 10:00 Jim suggested we move our guy talk to the Black Horse's bar. So we wandered in, were seated, and gave our order to the young woman who was waiting tables. We must have seemed suspicious or something (I honestly can't say why), because the bartender came over to our table and started interrogating us about how we were. His behavior was truly bizarre. I swear that we were very well behaved, quiet, and not falling down or anything. I didn't like the vibes there, so I went back to the room after one beer with John W., who started experiencing an allergy attack in one eye.

Jim and Dave stayed for another drink and arrived an hour later. It was midnight and I was ready for bed. But Dave was mumbling something about a party with free beer at the Holiday Inn next door. Yeah, right, I said. I had imbibed quite enough anyway. So Jim and I got into our beds, talked a bit, and said good-night. Then Jim sat up in bed and said, "I have to see if it is true." I told him fine if he wants to go, but urged him not to stay--just confirm or disconfirm the story. I feel asleep.

I woke up at 6 feeling just fine, so I guess I didn't overdo too much. Jim, who usually gets up at 5 every morning, was out like a light. So I got up, showered, walked around the grounds for a while, and had breakfast at 7. Went back to the room to find Jim still asleep. So I rested until he finally woke up at 8:40. "It's true," he said in a scratchy voice, and proceeded to tell me about his post-midnight adventures, which included stumbling over a copulating couple in the lawn next to the motel and getting into a political debates with two guys, a rabid Democrat and a rabid Republican. He floated his theory about Jimmy Carter, not Ronald Reagan, bringing down the Soviet Union, and caught them both by surprise. And, yes, there was free beer. All of the brewing companies drove their trucks from the festival to the Holiday Inn parking lot and served anyone with a glass. The taps were not marked, so you didn't know what you were getting, but apparently people did not care. It would have been too much for me. Maybe next time I will go. If I pace myself better.

After everyone else broke their fast, we said our good-byes and Jim drove me back to Harrisburg. From there it was a pleasant drive back to State College, again with avocadonumber's CD in my player. At one point I put Running Away on repeat because it was such a beautiful song to drive by.