A Swamp Yankee is a Rhode Islander who lives in a traditional Rhode Island way – fishing, farming, cutting wood, you get the idea. I have lived in Rhode Island for 15 years, but I had never checked out an annual festival known as “Swamp Yankee days.” It was high time I did.
I took myself down to the fairgrounds in the small, rural town of Richmond, paid my whopping $5 entrance fee, and parked in a field. I then spent some time strolling. It’s an interesting and fun celebration, perfect for families. (I made the photos extra big so you could drink in the atmosphere. )
I’m sure you are wondering what a real Swamp Yankee looks like. Here’s one, demonstrating an antique shingle mill:
Here’s another, a blacksmith:
And here’s a Swamp Yankee dog, demonstrating the old time skill of sleeping:
Now that you have an idea of the type of event this is, here are a few more pictures. It was a photographer’s delight!
This festival is a celebration of old time machines as well as traditional skills. I actually remember the old Evinrude from childhood summers at the lake. That’s how old I am.
Here’s a man operating an antique wood splitter. I should mention that all these machines were running – and backfiring a lot.
There was a little train that took kids around the grounds. Whee! All the festival activities, except the cow chip bingo, are free.
The cow chip bingo is one of the highlights of the festival. Please pay close attention to the following explanation of how it works: a grid is painted on a mowed field. Each square is numbered. Cattle are released into the field. If one poops in the square you bought, you win. The top prize is $500!
I watched, holding my breath, as the cattle entered the ring. Except these were not cows. They were calves. Male calves. No matter. They were darned cute, don’t you agree?
They were also frisky little devils, which just added to the suspense. The entire event took about 20 minutes. I guess they had to go.
This man and his little dog were enjoying the vibe…and the food.
This goat looked rather wise.
There were also some local crafts for sale. I thought these were cute, and very seasonally appropriate. Check out those ghosts.
If you’re ever in RI in October, you should check out this festival of wholesome and fun Swamp Yankee-ness. It’s another example of how this state is so much more than just beaches.
I will definitely have to check that out next year. Ashaway has a Swamp Yankees Day celebration as well, but it’s a much smaller affair. With no backfiring antique machinery.
Actually they stopped doing the Ashaway one, so the Richmond people took over.
Great pics, dn! Those little fairs are something else. Love the goats!
I love them too, CJ. I find it uplifting to go to things like this too. There’s something pure about them.
Thnx, had no idea… All the Swamp Yankees I’ve met are great neighbors and people…. loved the photos. that cow chip bingo is now on my to do list. So much fun!
You must try to go next year. It’s a blast. So glad I finally made it.
I love those Swamp Yankees, who prove that regional differences still exist in these times of homogeneity. Down here in Georgia, I’ve always appreciated the culture of some mountain folks, including language, food and music. Such distinctions are passing with time, alas.