CONFETTI-STREWN WASTELAND – According to recent on-the-ground reports from Portage, Wisconsin, the town’s summer festival season has ended and its residents have miraculously survived to tell the tale. This year, Portage endured an unprecedented nine festivals in addition to other public events, which proved tough for even the most hardened residents.
Said resident Paul Winston, “I think we were really pushed to our limit this time around. We prepared for the usual apple festival in June but little did we know that City Planning had slipped in an art exhibition too. After that we couldn’t regroup in time for the Fox River sailboat regatta in July, and that was the crushing blow. We were totally defenseless against the County Fair.”
James Frazier, a recent arrival to Portage, did not fare as well. “The local bands. The horrible, horrible local bands. I still get flashbacks,” Frazier said, in reference to the annual breast cancer charity concert series that finally broke him. “It’s gotten to the point that I can’t even look at a soft pretzel without being reminded of the trauma.”
Cindy Lewinson, a local restaurant owner and veteran of 14 festival seasons, said, “The key to making it through this trying time is self-preservation. Once the first whiff of cotton candy hits it’s every man and woman for themselves. Personally I’m in favor of a zero-admittance barricade. Sometimes it can be hard standing my ground when the pleading eyes of people caught in the festival juggernaut are right at my restaurant window, but I just have to keep reminding myself that they’re already lost.”
The casualty toll in Portage this year has been high, with dozens of parade-related injuries and at least one confirmed death in a chocolate éclair-eating contest. Many residents are still too cautious to venture back into the deserted streets of downtown for fear that a fall barbecue rib cook-off might ambush them, like the infamous incident of 1986.
Mary Johnston, a survivor of the 1986 incident, said, “it’s been nearly three decades since it happened but the memories are as fresh as if it happened yesterday. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to scrub those images of half-eaten ribs and greasy fingers from my mind.”
For many in Portage, the outlook is grim. Larry Wilks, who barely escaped intact this year, fears that he may be too weak to outrun the Portage High School marching band anymore. Said Wilks, “I guess it’s just my time. Next year I’ll probably just peacefully walk into the street and let the festivals take me, no fuss. I trust that the younger generations will keep fighting the good fight for our fair city.”
At press time, Portage citizens are attempting to plant a mole in City Planning and learn their insidious 2015 summer tactics in advance.
Originally published: September 2014