Monday, July 31, 2006

Palmer Rapids Twin Music Festivals

The 2006 Redneck Roadtrip landed in the rolling Madawaska Highlands of Renfrew County this weekend at the Palmer Rapids Twin Music Festivals. For three days, Al Schutt's back 40 were transformed into a Redneck Riviera rivalling the Emerald Coast itself. For the music fan, the twin country and bluegrass stages offer enough fiddle, steel, and banjo to keep your feet tapping all the way home on Sunday. For those who come just for the party, the tailgating has few equals.

Through a haze of smoke, we arrived on Friday night to a shanty town of airstreams, pick-ups, and tents. 10,000 fans were already picking and grinning around their camp fires or blasting rock and country from tricked-out Silverados. Palmer's devotees are among the friendliest you'll meet - lending a chopping block, re-supplying beer, and selflessly cautioning against a bloody nose from an impossible double back-flip off the tree. I enjoyed a lively chat with Timber Jack from "Marmra" (Marmora) who, from the comfort of his green Dodge, told of fighting and flirting at the gone, but never forgotten, Gatineau Clog and Ompah Stomp. Behind a thick beard and Earnhardt shades, Timber Jack would be a frightening woodsman were it not for his Hello Kitty porkpie hat.

The idea at Palmer is to do as you please. As long as you keep your fists to yourself and don't clink your glass bottles too loudly, nobody will tell you where to camp, to put out your fire, or to be careful in the Madawaska's current. If you and two hundred of your friends want to splash and grapple in a mud puddle, whether you're five or sixty-five, go right ahead - you're in Palmer.

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