Last day of Alumapalooza

It’s a wrap!  Alumapalooza 2011 is all done except for a little cleanup.

We had such a fabulous week of weather that nobody could complain when a tiny 10-minute rainshower sprinkled us in the morning on Saturday during the Swap Meet.  We called it “dust control.”  Brett and I were out in the Gator (a little utility truck, kind of like a 6-wheel golf cart) moving around some stuff when the rain hit.  Unfortunately, the throttle cable on the Gator broke around the same time and we ended up having to make a field repair and nurse the thing back to home in the rain.  It didn’t matter much, because at that point the rain was actually kind of refreshing.

The Swap Meet was much larger than last year.  We probably had twenty tables going, with all kinds of stuff, so that was a big hit.  I’m hoping for even more next year.  I saw a few bargains pop up on everything from back issues of Airstream Life magazine to carnivorous plants.

That was all just warm-up for the first big event of the day: the Rivet Masters Competition.  We brought twenty teams of two over to the Service Center.  Dave, Dan, and Rick of Airstream demonstrated correct buck riveting technique and then we let each team take a shot at bucking as many rivets as they could in one minute.  This was hilarious.  One person runs the air-powered rivet gun and the other person holds the bucking bar.  It really does take two people who can coordinate to do this well.  I was initially concerned that we might get a pair of ringers in the competition (perhaps professional restorers) but it immediately became apparent that I needn’t have worried, so I spent my time with the microphone making jibes at the contestants and adding color commentary.

The photo shows sKY and slaDE (known as “The Flying Riveteenees” for the purpose of this contest) working on their rivets.  They managed to buck 10 rivets.  The rule was that improperly bucked rivets would be disqualified, so it really was a matter of quality over quantity.  Too short, too long, marred, or any other defect meant that those rivets didn’t count.  The ultimate winner, announced later at Happy Hour, was Team Doxie, with 11 rivets bucked, and a 100% success rate.  They won a pair of Zip-Dee chairs.

The second big event of the day was Eleanor’s cooking demo.  The one earlier this week was just a fill-in for a speaker who had to cancel.  This one was the biggie — a full “seduction meal” consisting of pork medallions in a port wine sauce, lemon-zested rice, roasted green beans, and a salad with homemade citrus dressing.

She made everything, including the salad dressing, on an actual Airstream galley on stage in about 45 minutes while the audience watched on a big screen where her work surface was shown by a video camera.

Eleanor was assisted by myself (again doing color commentary during the quiet moments) and Brett, who acted as Sous Chef and general kitchen assistant.  Alex Kensington took all of the pictures you see here, and he did a marvelous job.

We chose four people to come up to the table by the stage and eat Eleanor’s meal.  They were picked randomly — we turned our backs and threw tomatoes into the audience, like tossing a bridal bouquet at a wedding.  The tomatoes didn’t survive well, but the people who caught them were thrilled.  After dinner, they also got Eleanor’s latest dessert creation: lemon sorbet with mint syrup, blackberries, and chocolate pizzelles.  Eleanor discovered that they fly like frisbees so she spun a few out to the crowd at the end.  The extra pork medallions were cut up into samples, and plated with a little rice and salad, so that a dozen or more people in the audience could taste the meal too.

The final surprise was when she was done cooking.  She stripped off her chef whites and presented herself as ready to share the meal she’d made.  It was, in every way, a huge success and we are going to do it again next year with a completely new meal.

During the day we’d had Open House, and David Winick roamed the grounds to select a winner for “Best Open House Presentation.” He ultimately chose Hunter Hampton’s trailer, so she is now the (very) proud owner of an Airstream Life “Wally” award.  She told me:  “It doesn’t go with my decor at all, but I’m hanging it in the trailer anyway!”

Since Saturday was our final night, we planned the traditional blow-out evening.  First we had a fully catered dinner which was great, then Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours took the stage.  Everything was going great for about half an hour …until at about 8:30 our good weather luck ran out and a line of nasty thunderstorms came through.  Things got a little dicey for a few minutes with strong wind and lots of lightning, so we suspended the show and sent everyone home to wait it out.

Problem was, the thunderstorms kept popping up.  We had given the band members a walkie-talkie so they could stay in touch (some of them were in their van, and some stayed in the tent).  They kept us entertained telling jokes and making odd comments on the radio for a while, until the crowd started to wander back despite the intermittent rain and lightning.  At that point the guys couldn’t stand it any more — they’d come all the way from Tennessee to play for us tonight, and so around 10:10 p.m. they took the stage again and the show kicked off.  They played until 12:15 a.m., and it was by all accounts a great time.  We want them back next year.

I guess it wouldn’t be Ohio in June without a little interesting weather.  The thunderstorms and the intense humidity today are a reminder of how changeable it is here.  But overall, this may be remembered as the best Alumapalooza (from a weather perspective) ever.  We had a great week.

And now it is Sunday, time to wrap up and go home.  We slept in until 7:30, and took our time getting ourselves ready to go, as the field cleared of Airstreams.  Around 8:30 friends began to arrive to say goodbye : Alison Turner, Kristiana Spaulding, David Winick, sKY and slaDE, Adam and Susan, Alice and Tim, Charon and Alex, “Laura The Lost” and others.  We took a few last minute photos and lingered for an hour, talking about past trips and future ones, because nobody really wanted to leave.  The end of an event like this is always bittersweet.

We are in the Terra Port now, plugged in to full hookups again and chilling out.  The morning was spent in cleaning up the field, running trash to the dumpster, packing up our storage trailer, and such.  Sweaty work on a day with such humidity and heat.  Now that it’s all done, we’re going out for dinner and writing the final checks to vendors.

But the treadmill never stops for us.  This week we opened online registration for next year and four trailers are already signed up.  We’re expecting a few dozen in the next month.  Time to design the t-shirts and logos …

About the Author

Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine