This weekend was part of my fall break, so I had some days off of school. That alone was awesome, but I also got to go to Atlanta to visit my friend Sarah. While I was there, she got us tickets to Taste of Atlanta, a big food festival happening near Georgia Tech. With your admission you got ten coupons that could be traded for food samples at booths set up by local restaurants. Most samples were about appetizer sized, and cost between one and three coupons. The food was all really tasty. We got to try Woody’s cheesesteak, Table at Ten’s key lime pie, Gyro Bros, and Don Antonio’s pizza with sausage and pistachio. Some booths, like Keurig and Chipotle, also had free samples. Yelp was there, handing out free tote bags for checking in. The whole of Tech Square was full of delicious food and free stuff. I was ecstatic. My favorite booth, to no one’s surprise, was Morelli’s Ice Cream. After trying their cream cheese guava swirl, I actually went back to try some pumpkin pie ice cream. Their ice cream was just so good. Throughout the day, different tents around the festival had showcases, competitions, and demonstrations. We went around dinnertime on Saturday, so most of those were finished, and some of the restaurant booths were actually closing up. It made for a great dinner, but I would suggest going earlier, maybe around lunch, to get even more variety. Either way, come hungry. Big thanks to Sarah for taking me!
A few weeks ago I wrote about hospitality and what I learned from a recent church retreat. The theme of the retreat was radical hospitality, based on the book of the same title by Loni Collins Pratt and Daniel Homan. Over that weekend, and the following weeks, I read, and very much enjoyed the book. Pratt especially set out to not write a guidebook. She clearly states that her book is meant to be a collection of stories based on, and used to examine the Rule of St. Benedict, and spiritual hospitality. That kind of sounds academic and scary, but it is not at all like that. Most of the book consists of stories from her time visiting a monastery, and the author’s life, along with explanations. The book is easy to relate to and understand.
That being said, this book isn’t there to coddle you; it is there to convict you. Some of the stories are hard to read, not because they use dense language or academic jargon, but because they deal with uncomfortable subject matter that we usually try to stay away from. It dares us to face those things head on. One story, about the author’s infant daughter dying of cancer, was especially difficult. But that was the point. Everyone around her found her situation too big and scary and awful to handle, except one woman. This woman, someone from church whom she barely knew, came and stayed with her through her darkest time. Actions like that are what this book asks of its readers. Ultimately, that is what I enjoyed about Radical Hospitality: it motivated me to act. Now, not every story is horribly depressing, most are very sweet and hopeful. I think this book is a good fit for anyone looking to begin examining spiritual hospitality in their own life, no matter what backgrounds they come from.
Growing up, I loved the Texas State Fair. I went almost every fall with my parents or friends. Here in Columbia, I also have the opportunity to go to the State Fair every fall, but the South Carolina fair isn’t quite the same. The Texas State Fair is an all-day, leave you exhausted kind of event, while the South Carolina State Fair is more of a nice evening or afternoon outing. They are both a lot of fun, however.
Thursday evening was College Night at the fair, so admission was free. I met a group of friends there, and we spent the evening wandering around. My favorite part is always the smelly barnyard animals. The South Carolina fair has barns full of cows and pigs that are sweet and not man-crushingly huge, plus a whole room full of different kinds of rabbits, and a petting zoo. There were baby piglets this year, and three day old ducklings. They were just too cute. The fair also had exhibit halls displaying the best jams, handicrafts, cakes, biscuits, pumpkins, and art in the state. And, most importantly, they had fried food. In addition to the regular funnel cakes and corn dogs, there is a stand that sells crazy burgers with doughnuts or ramen, and another with fried candy. My personal favorite is the fried Reese’s, ooey gooey with melted chocolate, and totally indulgent.
So, while Big Tex might not be there to greet you, the South Carolina State Fair still offers that cozy, fall feeling of neon lights, and something battered and fried, and it is almost like being home.
My parents were in town this weekend. We had a lot of fun, and on Saturday night we decided to go see Oklahoma at Town Theater. I have been a huge Roger’s and Hammerstein fan for as long as I can remember. They originated the American musical, and they did it with this show. Town Theater opened their 96th season this September, so they brought plenty of experience to their production. They brought enough acting and singing talent to carry the script, as well as an earnest, wholesome approach that fit the show very well. My favorite character was Andrew Carnes, who was hilarious as played by Will Moreau. With his swagger and his shotgun, I laughed just watching him walk on stage. My favorite character in the script has always been Aunt Eller, the no holds barred matriarch. However, on this show she was a bit less loud and over the top than what I am used to. Overall, the whole ensemble did a great job. You could tell everyone was up there purely because they loved theater. The show as a whole exemplified what a great community theater show is all about. It didn’t try to be a professional show. They had sewn the costumes and built the sets. If a prop was dropped, they just bent over and picked it up. Like their characters, these were simple folk, but it was a lot of fun to watch.
I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from the show: