Sunday, September 13, 2015

Popeye Picnic Festival

We have not seen everything here in southern Illinois!  When we heard that there was to be a Popeye festival in Chester this past week-end, we knew we had to be there.  Our curiosity got the better of us- will the festival celebrate Popeye or spinach?  Maybe there will be some new culinary delight like fried spinach on a stick?
First, a little information on Chester.  It is a small river town, Mark Twain stopped here when he was a riverboat captain on the Mississippi.  John and I have driven through it occasionally on our way to St.Louis.  During the week it is a busy town with coal barges plying there way downriver, grain and delivery trucks passing through the main street of town.  The Gilster Mary Lee Corporation is pictured above.  It is a food manufacturing company of 8,000 different items under nearly 500 different private labels.  Daily they have fleets of trucks driving out of Chester to all parts of the nation.  Chester is also the birthplace of Elzie Crisler Segar (1868-1947).  He created the cartoon character Popeye.  We got to Chester about an hour before the Popeye Picnic Parade, so we had time to check out the Popeye Souvenir Store and Museum.
The cartoon strip started out under the name of Thimble Theater in 1929, it was later changed to Popeye.  Pictured above are some of the other characters which debuted at other times.  The rest are pictured below.
You may notice the can of spinach above, it was something which Popeye claimed gave him muscles.  During the 1930s there was an increased intake of spinach!  And by the way, the character of Popeye reportedly was likened to a citizen  of Chester who apparently was good with his fists.
As we walked around downtown Chester we saw a few statues of the characters of the Popeye cartoon.  Pictured above is Bluto, he and Popeye were often exchanging blows.
It was a good parade, as small town parades go.  All the local schools and their bands were represented, as well as the two political parties.  Speaking of the latter, one school float promoted Olive Oyl as First Lady.  Popeye is representing the Green Party.  He has promised a can of spinach in every cabinet.  Really, we can not do much worse than him, considering the candidates who are currently promoting themselves for president in 2016! 
Our grandson Nathan thoroughly enjoyed the parade, he was all eyes anxiously awaiting to see what would be coming down the street next.  And he made out like a bandit with a wide array of goodies tossed to him- besides candy he got stuffed animals and balls.  The other highlight for him was the petting zoo, where he met an alpaca for the first time.   If you are ever in southern Illinois about this time in September next year, do check out the Popeye Picnic Festival in Chester!  And no, I never did find any spinach delicacy at the picnic.

No comments:

Post a Comment