That time I won the wet tshirt contest at Carlton Landing

Internet, allow me to regale you with the Grand Tale of the 2017 Fourth of July in Carlton Landing.

But first, allow me to back up a few weeks when we were sitting around the table with friends, discussing the upcoming Independence Day holiday. First, it began by everyone agreeing that we should throw an epic water balloon fight, much like the dads did last year. Yes! This was a great plan.

And then it became apparent that nobody in CL was planning a big fireworks & dinner extravaganza like in years past (one of the best 4ths anyone had ever experienced in recent memory). So then it became obvious that clearly we must form a committee to plan a Freedom Fest to end all Freedom Fests. Barbecue catered dinner! Bounce houses! A beer bus! Face paint! YES! And it must all happen at the Carlton Landing overlook, high above the lake with a magnificent view. See? That’s the town proper, out in the far left of this photo below.

The thing about having the dinner at the overlook is that it’s one mile from town. It means everyone has to walk a significant way uphill, or take their vehicle up there. It’s not exactly the most convenient, but it is an absolutely stunningly dreamy view. Weeks were spent by the committee calling, organizing, fundraising, menu planning, bounce house sourcing, timeline-creating. Tickets were purchased, kids were excited – everything was coming together.  And then the weekend was upon us.  Poor Simon – he spent the first two days of the weekend prepping with the other committee members in the heat, getting it all done. And then Sunday, the forecast began to look more and more ominous.

Archer, not looking too sure about everything:



We began texting frantically back and forth and I looked into the possibility of moving everything down to the enclosed church building (it’s actually a giant tent!) as that would be the only covered area that would hold as many people as we’d need.

But then the decision was made – no! We would ride it out – it’d be fine. FINE, gosh darn it! And the clouds swirled ominously and lightning was off in the distance. I began to have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. Everybody arrived for dinner at 6pm, an hour earlier than we’d originally stated. And then, like a faucet was turned on, the rain began to POUR out of the sky. The wind picked up and suddenly small children were screaming. We scrambled to cover up all the food and put it onto the beer bus since it was covered. We were literally scooping up chafing dishes while people were serving themselves out of the buffet line and running in the rain.

It was every event planner’s worst nightmare, in short.

Did I mention I was out directing traffic in a white tshirt in the pouring rain which was now soaked? It’s the only time in my life I’ve ever been in a wet tshirt contest (I’m assuming that’s exactly what it’s like).

Then someone was shouting “Get the food onto the beer bus! We’re going to drive it down to the church!”  and then we all fell down dead because when do you ever have a Big Friendly Beer Bus at church? 😂


In the end, it was an entirely memorable event, and thankfully everybody was very understanding. We were anticipating angry patrons demanding their money back. But everybody had fun in the church tent and we were able to laugh about it the next day. And the weather cleared up, so we had Freedom Fest Round 2 the following night, complete with the fireworks that were really spectacular. In the end, everybody brought a picnic up and we were still able to eat under the stars at the overlook. Beer bus and all.

Internet, I don’t think I’ve ever referenced beer so many times in a post here at Pencil Shavings.

So, let me recap this: we started by planning a water balloon fight.  And it morphed into a catered BBQ dinner with custom cups for each attendee, babysitters for children, bounce houses, face paint, a beer bus, and fireworks overlooking the water that all devolved into a soggy bbq dinner in a church tent with attendees drinking beer while sitting on the church pews.

The end.

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