The Boonville Beer Festival
by Bruce McEwen, May 13, 2010
I e-mailed Turkey Vulture a suggestion for quote of the week: “They didn’t have to rescind the passports to get rid of the journalists, all they had to dowas close the bars.”
But I couldn’t remember (shame on me) who said it. My interest in making this suggestion was not purely selfish. But I confess I was looking for a roost a little closer to a watering hole. And I frankly thought the lofty old bird must see something refreshing on the horizon as he glides around on the cool spring updrafts. Why else would he be hanging over this one horse town, I thought? The bar is closed.
Clever birds, those buzzards, I reminded myself. So I’ll give this dry little burg another day. That afternoon I returned to the Boonville Brew Fest, which reminded me of my favorite bar ever, The Bacchanal on Mission Bay in San Diego.
As I arrived back in Boonville from Ukiah Friday afternoon, Boonville’s streets were already lined with BMWs (“The best engineered cars in the world,” according to Clint Eastwood) and CVPIs (white Crown Victoria Police Interceptors). Throngs of the handsomest young people you'll see strolled up and down 128. I got off the bus with several other people unlikely to model for GQ and fell in behind a party of friars in brown robes. But these guys weren’t old codgers in sackcloth; they were young chaps in brown silk dresses. They blended seamlessly into the parade of pricey eccentricities on display. Beautiful young women had magically appeared everywhere I looked. When I'd left town that morning, it was as if it had rained Beautiful People while I was gone. Usually, when you mix drinks with sex, you get more pricks than kicks. But this year’s beer-fueled debauchery was pretty sane, proving that this population, even when drunk, grows mellow not martial. Or maybe it was the weed. There was plenty of it going around too. It wasn't exactly beer drinking weather, being cool and grey mostly, but the no one seemed to miss the warm. The suds disappeared like it was a hundred in the shade.
Great pealing war whoops went up from time to time, echoing off the hills, hundreds of voices, perhaps a thousand at times. Locals barricaded their driveways and hunkered behind their doors, soothing their dogs and loading their pistols.
There were a couple of kicks though. Some fellow in an outrageous silver Spandex suit and ridiculous chapeau got on the roof of the pavilion and went into a frenzy. The police hailed him to desist and he went over the roof ridge and disappeared. Shortly, though, somebody out-did him by ascending the roof of the grandstand and parodying the first guy. This guy disappeared over the ridge, too, and pretty soon a medical team in a helicopter came to evacuate him to the E-Room in Santa Rosa.
The lines were long at the beer taps, but even longer at the other end of the line outside the restrooms as merrymakers jumped the fence to water the bushes. The food booths were doing a good business and I got favorable reports on the hard ciders. The crowd was enormous, perhaps as many as 7,000. The Fairgrounds was fairly teeming, and a perfect venue it is for this annual event, self-contained, fenced off.
Out on Highway 128, fleet of CHP vehicles cruised up and down and, as you can see from this week's Sheriff's Log, a month's worth of drunk drivers got themselves run in.
Local deputy Craig Walker pulled up. Fairgrounds director Jim Brown was with him. They had a duffle bag full of cash, the receipts from ticket sales, I presume, and were taking it away to a safe place.
It was a long night, the war drums beating into the early hours. Next morning, going for coffee, I felt like Saki “wandering through the star-scattered guests.” A few zombie-looking forms shuffled in the general direction of AV Market and Pik 'N Pay where the charming Irene told me Monday morning that 264 cups of coffee had been sold before 11am on Sunday morning.
By that afternoon, you'd never have known 7,000 beer beauties had been here.