Okay, I didn’t really get beaned. The closest I got to that were flying lollipops parade participants were flinging out to the audience. So what warranted a parade? The National Lentil Festival, that’s what. It’s an example of one of those events of local importance that becomes evidence that a Rockwellian America is still alive and kicking.
I arrived in Pullman at around 10 AM to try one of the festival’s specialties: lentil pancakes. To me, the combination of lentils and almost anything else was a little dubious. Maybe this stemmed from personal experience. I’ve tried cooking lentils before and most of the time, they have never turned out very well. After slathering on the syrup, I sat down at a table where a man was stuffing his mouth and gabbing on his cell phone at the same time, a little boy was complaining about how much he disliked lentils, and his grandmother who was praising the pancakes and wondering where she could get the recipe. The pancakes were…not bad. The lentils are mostly tasteless. I suppose one could imagine that these were walnut pancakes. With really bland walnuts.
The parade started soon afterwards. It was your typical parade–marching bands, cheerleaders with shiny pom-poms, the politicians surrounded by their fan clubs, fire trucks, the local businesses with their mascots (not to mention the lentil mascot for the festival), virginal (or at least I’m assuming) beauty queens sitting on the back of a convertible practicing their Miss America hand waving, the sheriff doing motorcycle tricks. The batteries in my camera died around float #60. The amusing part of the parade was two horse riders followed by a trio of boys lugging a wheelbarrow and shovels for errant manure. (I’m sure these boys were totally mortified, but hey, I feel their embarrassment.) The most head-scratching part were the Asian floats. It just seemed really strange to me to see middle-aged Caucasian women in traditional Chinese clothing and white girls in kimonos.
I was confused as to where the actual festival was taking place, but I had no need to worry. After the parade, I just followed the thousands of migrating people to Reaney Park where various booths (food, arts, kiddy, commercial) were set up. I overheard someone saying that there was nothing there and that they should just leave. I think this is only true if festivals are not your idea of fun. I had a hoot just wandering around. Ever tried chickpea snacks? Or even lentil brownies?
Let’s say you’re a trendy, big city person. And maybe your idea of a good time is bar hopping and clubbing. Then this is not for you. But if you enjoy the slightly quirky, the National Lentil Festival might be something to see if you’re in the area around August. And if you have younger kids, this is definitely an event to go to. It’s extremely kid-friendly–maybe a little overly so at times.