Saint Louis Festival of Nations

On Sunday, Anne and I eschewed our planned forty mile death march and instead opted to repeat Saturday’s ride.  We rode again to Tower Grove Park, for the second day of the Festival of Nations, as the so called international festival is more formally known.  On this ride we detoured to the Science Center, Anne got to explore the new bike path and tunnel under the New I-64  and then we explored the empty campus of Saint Louis University High School.  We backtracked then and eventually crossed the highway again, this time on the new pedestrian bridge across from Barnes Hospital.  We wandered through neighborhood streets until we came to Tower Grove Avenue and joined the line of bicycles headed towards the festival.  Anne was so full of spunk, racing me and then beating me up most hills, that I wondered whether the forty miler was the way we should have gone.

Mexican Dancers

After we had “parked” our bikes we went directly to the main stage, sight of yesterday’s swirling skirts and toe tapping music.  This day started with an African dance group.  With their pounding drumbeat as a background the gyrating dancers had the whole park tapping their feet.  Afterwards, I bumped into these two lovely Mexican senoritas, who gladly assented to a photograph and instantly struck the above pose that makes it look like their skirts are almost sewed together.

The menu on this day started with an Iranian combination dish, chicken kabobs off the stick over lentil rice with more raisins then lentils and a delightful Shirazisalad, herbs, tomato, cucumber and red onions.  Later we had a Nigerian meat pie.  The shape, size and dough was basically like one of Jan’s pasty, the difference though is in the filling.  The sole ingredient was a very spicy hamburger filling.  Anne allowed me to entertain her, with my musing on Welsh-Nigerian miners.

Scottish Games - Caber Toss

Pictured above is a guy doing the caber toss.  According to Wiki:

A long tapered pine pole or log is stood upright and hoisted by the competitor who balances it vertically holding the smaller end in his hands.  Then the competitor runs forward attempting to toss it in such a way that it turns end over end with the upper (larger) end striking the ground first.  The smaller end that was originally held by the athlete then hits the ground in the 12 o’clock position measured relative to the direction of the run.  If successful, the athlete is said to have turned the caber.  Competitors are judged on how closely their throws approximate the ideal 12 o’clock toss on an imaginary clock.

Weight over the bar throw

Pictured above is a guy doing the weight over the bar event, also known as weight for height.  Again to Wiki:

The athletes attempt to toss a 56 pound (4 stone) weight with an attached handle over a horizontal bar using only one hand.  Each athlete is allowed three attempts at each height.  This guy explained that since he and his compatriots were expected to demonstrate these events for six hours, the weight that he was using were much less then the standard weights.  Successful clearance of the height allows the athlete to advance into the next round at a greater height.  The competition is determined by the highest successful toss with fewest misses being used to break tie scores.

I didn’t question him about what his right hand was doing where it was during his throw.  In the background, to the right is a guy in a blue shirt.  This is my friend Chris from work.  We was conducting a single malt whiskey tasting booth.  What with planning to ride back home partaking didn’t seem like such a good idea.  Chris did not particularly like the guy throwing iron shot in his direction.  The thrower’s joke that no one has ever complained about being hit by one of these shots.

Sheaf toss

The same guy as before is now demonstrating the sheaf toss.  

In the sheaf toss a bundle of straw (the sheaf) weighing 20 pounds (in this case only twelve) for the men and wrapped in a burlap bag is tossed vertically with a pitchfork over a raised bar much like that used in pole vaulting.  The progression and scoring of this event is similar to the weight over the bar event.  There is significant debate among athletes as to whether the sheaf toss is in fact an authentic Highland event.  Some argue it is actually a country fair event, but all agree that it is a great crowd pleaser. 

In both of the pictured throws from this guy, he cleared the bar.

Irish Dancers

After the Scottish games, we headed back towards our bikes.  Anne had made a three o’clock appointment with another teacher and we needed to book.  I snapped a few pics of the Irish dancers, pictured above.  I love their bouncing tresses.  We cruised home, back through the Park, stopping only for a few more Great Blue Heron photos.  We even hardly paused when in our own neighborhood, The King himself, Elvis, stepped out of his automobile and asked us, How ya doin‘? … We got eighteen miles.

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