Price: Sherpa Mommy and the traveling circus

The small town I grew up in, like most small towns seem to do, plays host to a local craft fair once a year. In the case of little Smithsburg, Md., it’s the annual Steam Engine & Craft Show.

From the surrounding counties, states, and even farther, tractor and steam engine aficionados pile into the little town to show off their trusty rides. Local artisans and flea market vendors pile into the rows of craft booths. The proceeds, of course, benefit the local high school’s athletics boosters.

johnsmomworks by Jess Heid

by Jess Heid

It’s small town charm at its finest.

My dad still lives in Smithsburg, and he’s built a grand tradition around the Steam & Craft Show. His house, you see, sits right at the end of the parade route. On the last Saturday afternoon in September, hundreds of his colleagues and friends come from far and wide to celebrate Tractor Gras.

There’s more (excellent) food than you can envision. There may be a beer or two consumed on premises. My dad’s south Louisiana roots show through as the zydeco music blares over the outdoor PA system. There’s literally dancing in the streets, with people rushing to get out of the way as each tractor rides by.

And perhaps the best part is the throwing of the beads. At Tractor Gras, that tradition is turned on its head: the spectators throw beads to the excited parade participants.

A fine time is had by all.

*  *  *

For two years now, I’ve wanted to bring John to Tractor Gras. A few Fridays ago, I was feeling particularly blue about missing another year. My husband and I made a commitment to go in 2015, and I had all but resigned myself to missing the festivities.

But I checked airfare one last time, and found that the boys and I could fly to Baltimore, rent a car, and spend the weekend at my dad’s house for far less than I had expected. One week before the festival, I bought the tickets and we were off.  Daddy stayed home to hold down the fort – we decided to buy one less ticket to save a few bucks.

Have you ever traveled with two little boys? It’s an adventure. Two car seats. One suitcase packed with all of our stuff. A diaper bag and a backpack. Oh, and two little boys, who want to run in different directions and kick seats and throw things and need a drink and a snack and a nap. All at once.

I was nervous to say the least.

But the boys were amazing. They made this mama proud. And we worked out a system of pulling one car seat on its little strap-on wheels and the other in a backpack on my back. John held my hand and helped carry small things. I wore Charlie in a carrier strapped to my chest.

We were quite a sight, but we made it safe and sound.

And at Grandpa’s house, we enjoyed all that Tractor Gras had to offer.

*  *  *

A few days after we returned, I asked John what the best part of Tractor Gras was.

His first pick was the snowcone he had at the festival Saturday morning.

Second was the chance to meet one of his idols – Elet Hall from American Ninja Warrior. The Hall family is from the same small town I grew up in, and one of Elet’s older brothers was best friends with my younger brother. So John got to meet a “star champion” (his words) from one of his favorite shows on TV.

I thought he’d remember the steam engines, or the big tractors or the sawmill.

But one way or another, this Sherpa Mama helped make some memories with the wee fellows, so I’m happy as a clam.

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