“Ohmigosh, Ohmigosh, Ohmigosh! Toad the Wet Sprocket are going to be at O’Fallon’s Heritage and Freedom Fest,” I says.
“That’s nice,” she says.
“Remember last year when The BoDeans were going to be there and you got all excited and then we didn’t go?”
“That’s because I later learned that one of the two main BoDeans was no longer with the band. I didn’t want to go just for The BoDean.”
“Are you sure you want to go? There will be people there. Lots and lots of people.”
“It’s O’Fallon. How crowded can it be?”
And so it was that Independence Day afternoon we took the back road to the high school parking lot where we would board the shuttle that would take us to the Ozzie Smith Sports Complex, home of O’Fallon’s July 4th extravaganza. I assumed, from looking at the map, that the stage setup was in the outfield and there would be plenty of room for us to sit on the bleachers so we didn’t bother with lawn chairs or coolers. Who wants to drag stuff like that around if you don’t need it?
After waiting for the shuttle and not getting on the first shuttle and getting on the second shuttle and stopping for a drop-off a few feet down the road, we concluded that we’d be better off walking back to our car after the show.
The shuttle let us out at T.R. Hughes Ballpark but no one would let us in. Turns out the festival wasn’t at the ballpark, it was at the sports complex, which were two different things. I did not know that. There were no bleacher seats at the sports complex. Sigh.
Upon entering the fair grounds our first sight was a booth with a giant Confederate flag that had a truck driving through the middle of it. What?
Ah well, America.
The entertainment schedule was Tonic, followed by Toad, followed by Smashmouth, followed by fireworks. We got there in time to hear Tonic sing their one hit and that was all i wanted to hear out of them so that worked out. We walked around the carnival rides and the games and the food booths. It was crowded but not horribly so. We found a nice, fairly secluded spot with bleachers and a picnic table away from the maddening crowd.
Toad took the stage promptly at 6:45 p.m. and we got as close as we could and stood there for their one-hour set. Long enough for them to get in their five hits and several other tunes. Just long enough for me to be able to stand in one spot and not collapse. They didn’t sing “Nanci,” which made me sad, but still a good show and worth the admission price.
Afterwards we noticed it had gotten a lot more crowded. We made our way back to our spot and I went and got two burgers, two Cokes and a hot dog from the AmVets. While Lar went to get her food Andrew ate his hot dog and half of my second hamburger. When Lar got back I got Andrew another hot dog but sadly they were out of hamburgers. All the other lines were way too long to bother with.
By the time we were done eating we could hear Smashmouth had taken the stage. We could hear them fine from where we were so we just stayed put. I wasn’t all that crazy about seeing Smashmouth — I’ve seen the originals sing “I’m a Believer,” after all — but I must admit they put on a very good, high energy show. We finally got up to catch the drum solo and a couple of Kinks covers, then we left to find a spot to watch the fireworks.
Kudos, by the way, to whoever runs the O’Fallon Heritage and Freedom Fest because everything ran right on time. The fireworks went off shortly after “All Star” and it was quite a spectacle.
It was a long walk back to the car, though.