Facebook status updates from Manton, USA

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By Jesse Osbourne


If you asked my wife if I am addicted to my cell phone, she would shout “yes” before the question ventured past your teeth.

With that comes an incessant need to check social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
A lot of times I like to try to craft witty Facebook status updates. I didn’t say I was witty, I just said I like to try.
So the other day when I pulled up to the Manton Music Jam, the cobwebs in the part of my brain in charge of Facebook status updates slowly broke loose.
My initial reaction at seeing hundreds of cars parked in the normally sleepy town was that of surprise.
I’ve driven through Manton a time or two. I’ve never seen that many cars there. It looked like one of those field parties all my high school classmates used to talk about (see what I did there?).
After I parked, I did try to update my Facebook status. I had planned on writing this: “Manton is alive with the sound of bluegrass music.”
Get it? It’s a play on “the hills are alive with the sound of music.” Remember, I said I tried to be witty on Facebook.
Sadly, my cellphone didn’t have enough service to send my thoughts into cyberspace. I would be operating without my precious phone for the duration of my assignment.
I have to admit, I was a little bit intimidated by all the people. I’m not really a big crowd type of person. And it was my first Manton Music Jam experience.
I’ve heard my parents talk about it, but I’ve never gone. This year was different, though. An appearance had to be made.
After I waded through the people, I came upon a gigantic American flag hanging from a tree. It was gorgeous and set the scene really well.
It wasn’t long after that that I heard someone say, “Hooray, the Springfield Sun is here,” or something to that effect. It isn’t often that you hear those words, even in sarcasm. This might be my kind of scene.
The next person I encountered told me that I was late, which, in fact, I was.  
Long story short, I forgot to tell my wife I had to work, so other plans had already been made.
Lucky for me, it was an all-day event, so I still had plenty of time to spare.
As I loafed around and listened to the music, I learned that this year’s festival crowd was the biggest ever. It gets bigger every year, apparently.
I also learned that a special stage, used almost exclusively for this one day in July, was built last year.
I found out that the stage was built two weeks prior to last year’s event, put together in record time. Quite impressive, especially if you can see how well it’s constructed.
Before the stage was built, everyone sang and played on wagons.
One of the next things I noticed was the abundance of children dancing in front of the stage. It wasn’t choreographed, but these kiddos were having fun. I saw a lot of impromptu ballet moves out there.
I wanted to try it, but wasn’t sure if my health insurance would cover a pirouette-inspired back injury.
It wasn’t long after the kids were dancing that the adults jumped in, too.
What made my day was the sight of Tommy Kidwell and his cousin, Agnes Wimsatt, dancing and laughing to the music. Kidwell said he attends almost every year.
Then, a thing happened that made me want to update my Facebook status again.
“I just saw half of my family tree at the Manton Music Jam.”
It’s true. I couldn’t have thrown a banjo in Manton without hitting a Graves.
It was nice, because most of the people I saw I hadn’t seen much since spending summers in the tobacco patch.
I’ve run into them all occasionally, but I know most of these folks from the week or two a year I used to tag along with my dad to help haul in tobacco. Back-breaking work, but good memories, indeed.
After catching up and shooting the breeze a little, I waded back through the crowd. Dazed and a little confused, I went back to the truck.
“What just happened?” I thought. I had a good time is what happened. And, it was without Facebook or cell phone service, to boot. Amazing.
Then, as soon as I had cell phone service, I stopped to text my wife that I saw half my family tree in Manton.
What? You didn’t think I could go that long without technology, did you?