Try not to muck it up

Four legs good; two legs bad.

-Animal Farm

Contrary to rumor, I rarely lose my temper, but now that it's happened two weekends in a row at the Saturday Farmers' Market, it's time for a rant.

Every Saturday in the summer I volunteer at Lexington's Farmers' Market, helping out my dad and sometimes other assorted relatives (some we claim; some we don't).

I'm very blessed in that I've enlisted a couple of girlfriends who also contribute their Saturday mornings to the cause-in exchange for which, I provide everyone with a Sunday night dinner that incorporates whatever's fresh that week, plus HBO.

(My dad fondly introduces them as the daughters he never hadright in front of me.)

Arriving at the Market in the pre-dawn hours means that Friday nights are shot, and that the weekend time I might normally squander on laundry, cooking, or sleeping just doesn't exist until sometime after the first frost.

I bring that up only to illustrate the point that the tiny, miniscule, infinitesimal role I play in helping out is absolutely nothing-not even one millionth of one percent-of the sacrifices that the actual farmers make to be there. By the time I show up, ALL the real work has been done.

By and large, we have a great day. It's hot, sweaty work, but we get to see our friends; we make new ones (well, I don't, but the others do); and we enjoy ourselves. It reminds me quite a bit of the old country stores and county courthouse squares I grew up with.

Yeah, yeah. Farmers good. Sustainable agriculture good. Blah Blah. Ace has covered this before. Blah Blah.

Still, every year around this time the Ace readers vote-resoundingly and overwhelmingly-that the Farmers Market is the best thing to EVER happen to downtown Lexington (the Best of Lex Ballot is actually designed to assess the best new things of the last year [Summer Sounds, made a strong showing last year, for example] but the readers continue to doggedly vote for the market over and over).

So we know the city and the citizens really care about the Lexington Farmers' Market.

Making it all the more mysterious that this town would carelessly periodically take the occasional opportunity to screw it up just as badly as they possibly can.

Two weekends ago, a parade was held in the middle of a Saturday.

The streets were blocked off early in the morning (after the farmers got their trucks in, but long before most of the customer base could arrive) and stayed blocked well into the afternoon.

I'm sure the parade was for a good cause and it was organized by fine upstanding people. And so on. Blah blah. Whatever.

It's possible that whoever was in charge of scheduling actually thought that a midday parade would give Farmers' Market a little boost.

OK, whoever those possibly well-intentioned people were? They're stupid.

And here's why:

Farmers' Market DOES have a solid pedestrian base of shoppers who walk from surrounding neighborhoods, but the MAJORITY of the client base drives. Not because they're lazy, not because they're environmentally irresponsible-but because it is really difficult to negotiate kids, strollers, dogs AND heavy bags of produce for more than a block or two.

This is why God invented SUVs and Volvo station wagons, God bless 'em every one.

In an informal completely unscientific survey of the select farmers on that day's till, the general consensus was that most of 'em lost their shirt (and that's not the word they used either). For some, with close margins, one dismal day can destroy their entire season.

Anybody who has the slightest idea the backbreaking labor that goes into every piece of produce that's on those trucks should feel their hearts break any time they see them drive away at the end of the day, half full (and that's AFTER they've donated everything they can to the food banks).

Nobody's saying there should be a moratorium on downtown for the entire growing season-but if the purpose is to draw people there (as it presumably is), why not hold complementary activities LATER in the day? (Crazzzzy, you say? Well, it worked pretty well for Midsummer Night's Run. Downtown was packed from dawn till long past dusk.) It also conveniently helps avert sunstroke.

If the downtown streets are blockaded off on any summer Saturday morning, I'd better see French tanks rolling down Esplanade and Apaches conducting strafing runs over the KY Theatre because Chirac has suddenly grown a spine and INVADED us. Otherwise, leave the streets OPEN.

Stop me if this is getting too complicated, but downtown events that begin late Saturday afternoon/early evening encourage folks to come downtown, and stay there. Folks might even eat dinner. Go for drinks. See a band. Have coffee. Conceivably they could shop (if anything was open).

And for God's sake, why does it take a smoking ban for us to consider letting the bars stay open later?! We can't PAY half the retailers to stay open, and the bars are BEGGING to do it. Let 'em. Will it mean more drunks on the street later? Uhhhh, not likely. There's already plenty. Throw 'em all in jail before they take out some schoolbus full of children and pay the poor cops whatever overtime it takes for them to haul the drunks around. Pay 'em EXTRA whenever somebody throws up on 'em. Maybe eventually some enterprising soul will learn what a CAB STAND is.

When I started writing, I was angry about two things. The second involved some pinch-faced no-neck mouth-breather who had the nerve to complain about the price of everything at every stand last weekend. I had so many choice words for her at the time that I think I seriously frightened an innocent bystander in a Bank One polo. But I can't write any more about that, because the production guys are telling me to wind it up. I'm out of room.

I'll just leave it at this: anyone who has ever paid more than a buck for anything at a McDonald's drive-thru has forfeited the right to complain about the price of produce at a Farmers' Market.


Chicken Out

The folks at PETA staged a protest of Kentucky Fried Chicken's restaurant on Boardwalk Avenue earlier this week.

PETA is advocating more humane poultry slaughter; replacing crude and ineffective electric stunning and throat-slitting with gas killing; get rid of the forced rapid growth of chickens; add sheltered areas and perches; and use automated chicken-catching, a process that reduces the high incidence of bruising, broken bones, and stress associated with catching the birds by hand.

Fresh Air Festival

The Cumberland Chapter and Bluegrass Group Sierra Club are sponsoring an all-day music festival Saturday, August 23rd, in Versailles. The festival will feature bluegrass, folk, and celtic bands, as well as activities for the kids, and a silent auction. The proceeds from the event will benefit the Cumberland Chapter Clean Air Campaign. Tickets are $20 for adults, $2 for kids 6 -12, and free for kids 5 and under. Advance tickets can be purchased at Good Foods Co-Op, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, and other locations. Info, 895/ 299-5669, or check ww.kentucky.sierraclub.org.

Politics and BBQ

The Greater Lexington Apartment Association along with the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors and Home Builders Association of Lexington are hosting the Legislative Barbeque Tuesday, August 26, at the Donamire Farm (4151 Old Frankfort Pike). There will be live entertainment and food Prepared by: Billy's BBQ. Tickets are $20.00 per person. Registration deadline: August 22nd. Call 859/ 278.6540 for more info.

Recuse Me?!

After both sides on the water debate had deemed it okay for Judge Overstreet' to hear the case, the debate continues.

Circuit Judge Rebecca Overstreet has declined to recuse herself from the case. Overstreet's husband, Jerry Wright, is an attorney who represents the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, which is a member of a coalition that has publicly opposed a government takeover of the water company.

At press, Mayor Teresa Isaac had asked state Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Lambert to appoint a special judge to replace Overstreet.

Smoked Out

At local bars around town, you may notice collection jars, fliers, and organized concerts all in an effort to help raise some cash for a legal challenge against the smoking ban, which will go into effect September 29.

The plan is to follow the efforts in other cities, where ban opponents sue just prior to the law going into effect, in a bid to win a court injunction that would stop the enforcement of the ban until the courts can rule on its constitutionality.

There will also be a benefit concert September 7 at the Red Mile. The concert will have approximately 10 acts.

Mayor Teresa Isaac has scheduled a meeting for health board officials, bar, and restaurant owners, and smoking-ban advocates to meet to discuss how to implement the ordinance.

To submit an advocacy/activism activity or event for Quickies, email rkirkland@aceweekly.com, or editor@aceweekly.com.