Festival of Bourdeilles, France



Hotdogs, hamburgers, tractors, marching bands and local color were key ingredients for a celebration in Vermont and most any small community in the U. S of A.

The annual Festival of Bourdeilles, (yes, yet another festival !), has all the key ingredients of a village celebration, lots of similarities, but with some pretty big twists.

Here are ten points of comparison:

Our little burg of Williston , VT (pop. 8000) had enough various fire trucks to extinguish Dante’s hell. In our even littler burg of Bourdeilles (pop. 500), I have never seen a fire engine in the two years that we have lived here. So our parade is very, very short. This lack of fire trucks either has something to do with stone houses or the fact that, unlike their Vermont counterparts, the firemen don’t come to every minor traffic accident.  In which case we would see them all the time.

Second, no self respecting French person could ever confesses to liking hamburgers or hotdogs. So instead they serve up two choices of dinner: barrels of mussels soaked in garlic and oil, or a fine slab of beef with no soaking, or sauce of any kind. Of course these are accompanied by french fries served with mustard or mayonnaise. Ketchup can not be consumed in public. (Think of opium dens with, instead, Americans passing red bottles, the smell of vinegar in the air...)
Did I forget to mention wine instead of beer?


Third, the French do not exercise so there will be no local Jazzercise, or Zumba dancing group in the parade. This year instead we had male majorettes, decked out in skirts, wigs and some outrageously stuffed bras. Funny, the loud pulsing music is just the same as our bouncing jazzersizers. Except for an electronic version of Frere Jacque,Frere Jacque, Are you Sleeping? And everyone in the crowd was happy to make fun of their hardworking friends, but really glad it wasn’t them showing off their hairy legs, hairy faces, and beautiful smiles.


Fourth, the closest Bourdeilles has to a town band is a few ex-hippies playing guitars and a wheeze of accordions at the local bar on a Friday night, so if you are looking for a marching band you need to hire one.  Which Bourdeilles did!  There were only about ten members, but they played like heros. I wonder about next year.. maybe the money that went to the hired guns could go toward the purchase of 500 kazoos, tambourines, and whistles. 

Fifth, there are not enough neighborhoods to make floats, we are only about 300 full time villagers, so there is one committee that does all the preparation for the floats. During the winter this small group spends hundreds of hours twisting crepe paper into flowers (10,000 flowers!) and then for the last few weeks has stuffed the flowers into metal forms. They were beautiful.  If you were on your knees looking up you could even say that they were monumental. God forbid that it rains on parade day or the gutters would run with a rainbow of crepe paper colors.

Sixth, the National Guard flies so low on their daily maneuvers that if they were to do a “fly by” up the parade route it would be like having Jedi warrior spacecrafts threading the narrow passage of buildings. The shock waves would surely bring the chateau down on all of us. We do have a local ultralight flier who eventually passed over.  

Seventh, insisting upon fairness to the fair sex has seen the disappearance of parade queens in much of the US. But not in Bourdeilles! Every year Bourdeilles has a beautiful queen and her court.  Barring any change up or down in population growth, the two runner-ups will be crowned queen in their turn in the next two years.

Eighth, a tractor is a tractor is a tractor no matter where you live. And the older the better for the local parade.

Ninth, thankfully it is universally accepted that a vital part of growing up is the physical and mental conditioning that only comes with a whirl on a rickety fair ride, spending some time upside down, and taking a few neck cracking rounds on a bumper car. 



10th no matter where you are a parade will bring a twinkle to your eye.