More Than Fair

The McLeod County Fair came and went once again in our fair city. It was my “office” for the week. Many have asked, “how did the fair go?” Oh, let me tell you!

McLeod County FairCommunity

45 (or so) River of Hope folks showed up in shifts to scoop ice cream or smile at people or help them play the game, or hand them materials about River of Hope. We zinged coasters like Frisbees and handed out book marks with a flourish (Jill Springer, especially).

Root Beer Floats

Hope floats, indeed. We gave away well over 5000 rootbeer floats. Most of them in cups bearing our name. Sticky hands, sweaty foreheads, smiling teeth accompanied the handing out. Reactions ranged from suspicious to incredulous to thankful. A few people even remarked, “this has really added something special to the fair this year.”

McLeod County FairConversations

As an introverted extrovert (extroverted introvert?), I had a blast but would sneak off and find a quiet spot and not talk to anyone periodically, refueling for conversations to come. The quality of conversation I had this year was incredible, from confessional litanies of the fair food eaten to matters of the heart and the stuff of life. It was an honor to listen. It was incredible to give something (root beer floats, my time, a smile) away for nothing. It was fun to assure people entering the drawing that we would not call them or email them unless they specifically wanted us to do that. (“You don’t have to want to join our church to win.”) It’s amazing how quickly people suspect and anticipate their information being misused. Let’s not be part of that, ok people? By the way, 30 people (30 people!) checked “yes, call me (maybe)” on the drawing slip.

Front Page News

I was temporarily nervous when the Hutchinson Leader editor introduced himself to me on Friday night of the fair, saying,“You’re on the front page.” Gulp, what? Long story short, they took an interview I did with the Litchfield paper and edited it for the Leader. (As one who doesn’t like to be edited, I’d love to say more about the article, but ah well. Let’s not digress. We’re trying to love God’s people, gay or not.) I wondered if we’d get folks confronting us at our booth. Instead, I got people coming up to me and saying, “thank you for saying this – thank you to your church for being leaders in our community around the issue of homosexuality.”

McLeod County FairRibbons

By the end of the fair, the root beer floats we were handing out were “award winning” as we were awarded 2 purple ribbons. “Friendliest booth” and “Best Over-All.” Kinda fun and completely unexpected.

To summarize? The fair was exhausting. It was worth every penny and every ounce of energy. God is not held captive in the sanctuary but has been set loose at the county fair.

Special Thank-You’s

Thank you if you spent time at the booth scooping floats, helping kids play the game, smiling at people, telling them why this matters to you. Thank you for your time, your commitment, your faith and your love.

Thank you if you stopped by to talk or get a root beer float. I hope you felt treated well instead of like you were being recruited or Saved! by us (ha!).

Brian Tillmann counted straws and spoons and root beer and ice cream, being sure we were well stocked. He schlepped and purchased and planned. He scouted and scoped and sleuthed to find deals on all this stuff. He and Jenny, Loraina and Erika filled in the empty spots. When I felt weary, they always arrived with a spring in their step, faithfulness running out in front of them. Thank you.

Terry and Warren Kempfert labored over the giant root beer float – imagining and constructing and painting, hefting and loading and unloading. It’s beautiful and, I think, sea worthy. 😉 And it is a 3-dimensional representation of how we are called to push the lines we draw further and further out to realize God’s love shatters our mere boundaries. Thank you for helping us to communicate this in 3D!

Sara Pollmann put together a schedule and called and called and facebooked and emailed until most of the slots had willing (mostly. ahem) folks to be at the booth at the fair. Asking is hard. Thank you for doing this hard thing, Sara.

Zella’s Restaurant donated 24 gallons of ice cream to our hope floats. Thank you, Tiffany Haag and Blake Barnard and Zella’s for your generosity and thoughtfulness and contribution to building community.