That's just how we roll at the Crow

It's that most wonderful time of the year — at least in Rogue River.

Yep. My tiny little town is holding its 58th annual Rooster Crow celebration this weekend. "Time to Crow" is the theme. And 88-year-old mural maven Wanda Nesbit is this year's Grand Marshal for the downtown parade, which inevitably features wiener dog brigades, homemade floats and chests full of community spirit.

"You comin' to the Crow?" (We homies call it "the Crow." And we capitalize the "C". That's just the way we roll.)

"Wouldn't miss it," is the only correct response — even if you have no intention of attending. Why put anyone's beak out of joint?

Never been? Picture a tacky traveling carnival tumbling into a wacky Mayberry-esque town with strong poultry overtones. In addition to Saturday's parade and the myriad Foghorn Leghorns strutting their stuff, kids and adults are also flapping their appendages and cock-a-doodle-dooing. On Sunday one can also take in a classic car show, the (alleged) last year of the annual quilt display, and "Cal-Ore River Racers" will be roaring around the river under the Depot Street Bridge.

I'm not a fan of this latest revved-engine addition. I miss the logging exhibitions. And pie-eating contests. And a host of other cheesy country things. So I keep threatening to take over the whole gig. And the gals at City Hall keep threatening to let me.

Be afraid people. Be very afraid. One of these days ...

Five years ago the Honorable Dick Skevington sent a Crow invite to President Bush. I'll never forget the twinkle in the late mayor's eye when he shared the POTUS' response after a city council meeting.

"Unfortunately, we have had to make some difficult decisions regarding the President's schedule. It is with sincere regret that we must decline your invitation. I want to assure you, however, that your letter received every consideration," wrote La Rhonda M. Houston, deputy director of the office of appointments and scheduling.

I experienced my first Crow nearly a dozen years ago. Newly arrived in town, I was excited to participate in what I envisioned as Rogue River's answer to Calaveras County's Jumping Frog Jubilee.

Having spent the previous dozen years as a festival-attending art gypsy, I trotted down to City Hall and forked over a few bucks for a booth space in which to display my watercolor paintings.

I was only hours into the weekend event when I discovered the Crow's unwritten weather rule. Just as the sun is slated to shine on Pasadena's Rose Parade, Rooster Crow weekend is fated to be the harbinger of triple-digit heat. (Except for this weekend. Praise be.)

Outdoor art shows are all about adversity. And I'd endured some challenging summer art gigs in California, including wind, rain and unattended children. Once in Sierra Madre, we were nearly evacuated due to a wildfire. At a show in South Pasadena, my space assignment was mid-street, under the signal arm at a railroad crossing, and adjacent to a towering brick building, the day after a major earthquake.

But never had I experienced a weekend spent on asphalt that was melting under our feet. As the mercury continued to rise, the Umpqua Bank parking lot became increasingly molten. And so did I.

I cooled my fevered self by drinking copious amounts of soda and chowed down snow cones at the 2000 Crow.

Which brings me to the food. And my annual bellyache. The aromas wafting around the downtown festival come from a bizarre culinary mix. There's the obligatory bad carnie food — things like elephant ears, corndogs, spiral spuds and deep-fried Twinkies.

We've also got the typical Thai, Mexican and Hungarian ethnic offerings. Giant spiral sausage, anyone?

Top this off with some down-home BBQ featuring pulled pork, tri-tip and chicken wings. This year we added some surf to the turf, tossing halibut and prawns into the mix. Pepto, please.

The parade and the Crow are Saturday's memories. Cocks have been crowin' and cars are still showin' and I am completely stuffed to the gills.

But, assuming you're reading this Sunday, it's not too late to eat yourself into a coma. And for those of you who enjoy a little liquid libation, no less than three beer gardens signed up at city hall to get their permit to pour suds this year.

That should make life interesting for our city's finest. Have courage, guys. It will all be over soon.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail

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