Thursday, October 13, 2005

Fielder’s Choice
By Barry Burleson

‘Carnival,’ singing with my 3-year-old

Life is never dull with a 3-year-old at home, and I never thought I’d say that at age 44.

After a late night football game Friday, I slept in, as did Andy and Erin. Pam and Emma awoke early and drove to Byhalia for the annual White Oak Festival, where they had a booth with Angie and Lyndsey Sansone.

But as soon as Erin, who was in the bed with me by this time, opened her eyes, she knew what was on tap for her day.

“Daddy, Daddy, when are we going to the carnival?”

I had to think about that one just briefly, but then it sunk in. Somehow she got carnival out of festival, but that was OK.

I managed to put her off long enough to run to the office a few minutes and then eat some breakfast, and the rest of the family was off to Byhalia, too.

Then on the way, she remembered what vehicle she was riding in and her favorite song.

“Daddy, put in ‘Little Bitty,’ she said.

A few months back I traded my old Explorer (165,000 miles) for a used (new-to-me) SportTrac. I was excited for lots of reasons, including ditching the old cassette player for a CD player. Yes, this “old man” is behind the times, according to Emma and Andy.

One of the first CDs I bought was Alan Jackson’s Greatest Hits Volume II. The first song is “Little Bitty” and Erin has it memorized.

She will get on stage (standing in the back of the truck or on the fireplace) and not just sing but belt out the chorus, “Well, it’s alright to be little bitty, a little hometown or a big old city, might as well share, might as well smile, life goes on for a little bitty while.”

Then as soon as that one’s over she asked for “number 14” on the CD. That’s Andy’s favorite, “Where I come from.”

She can sing it, too, and loud – “I said where I come, it’s cornbread and chicken, where I come from a lotta front porch sittin’, where I come from tryin’ to make a livin’, and workin’ hard to get to heaven, where I come from.”

So by the time we got to “the carnival” Saturday morning in Byhalia, we were all excited and ready to go.

Church Street was very busy when we arrived about 11 a.m. and got even busier as the day progressed.

Janice Wagg took credit for the beautiful weather. And that’s OK, because Wagg and the other Byhalia Sports Association volunteers deserve pats on the back. They were all working very hard.

The White Oak Festival is a team effort, and I think, a good example of what small towns can do with lots of folks working together.

I know my 3-year-old had a good time. She brought home all kinds of things to play with, and she also enjoyed the hamburger and chips.

Myself, I had a barbecue sandwich, and I knew when I saw the long line, it would be tasty. And it was.

Then the hard part was getting Erin to leave. We tried everything, before finally she agreed to ride with Daddy again if big sister Emma left a little early, too.

I thought she’d fall asleep on the drive home. Instead, she and Emma took about a three-hour nap at the house.

Needless to say, I was up until about 1 a.m. with Erin that night.

But that’s OK.

Sunday on the way to church she said, “Hey, hey, I had a fun time at that carnival yesterday. When are we going back to Byhalia for another carnival?”

Next year’s Byhalia White Oak Festival will be a very special one – the silver anniversary (25th) edition of an event that exemplifies community spirit and volunteerism

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