Sunday, July 15, 2007

La Fête de Marquette 2007

In the industrial corridor east of the Capital is a 17 acre bare patch of land between the rail tracks. In the middle of our dry summer the grass is patchy brown and the fine dirt perfectly dusty. It’s a great spot for a party. This is the second year of La Fête de Marquette, the French themed festival of the Marquette Neighborhood Association. Lola and I recall the shade less afternoon heat of the inaugural event, so this year we wait till later in the day to catch the young kids of Feufollet and the legendary talents of C. J. Chenier.

Nothing quite says Madison like a guy in a New Orleans tee shirt that says: Make Levee Not War, standing in front of the Sierra Club booth as a fully loaded coal train rumbles immediately behind them. Something has to burn to make enough electricity to power those big stage speakers. Of course, irony is integral to the social fabric of Madison. Last year the goal was to raise funds to turn this piece of open ground in the middle of the city into a central park. This year the goal is to raise awareness of central park.

Awareness Not Funds for Central Park: Hundreds celebrated the French holiday "Bastille Day" on Madison's Near-Eastside tonight at the proposed site for what could become one of the city's largest parks. The second annual La Fete de Marquette was not raising funds for Central Park tonight, but rather awareness for the park's potential. Central Park needs a lot of money before it becomes a reality. This year, the money from the French festival will go towards the more immediate needs of the neighborhood.

There is a time tested way of achieving results in this city and it goes awareness first, tax levy second. Near the end of the evening another freight train rolls towards downtown with ten cars stacked with very large tubes of missile compatible diameters. Big plans are moving forward all over Capital City. As the sun goes down the music is incredible and dancing fills the evening.

In case the Marquette organizers stumble across this corner of cyberspace, I do appreciate two fiddlers on either side of an accordion, dredging up Louisiana swamp roots. So in honor of the French contribution to our national character, I nominate The Red Stick Ramblers for next year. Lâche pas la patate.