You know what the most awesomest part of Burlington is? The fact that on any given day in the three-and-a-half-week summer we enjoy, some kind of crazy-assness is going on. One day someone's building a microhouse in City Hall Park, and the next day pit bulls are tearing each other asunder in front of that little house. Whatever people say about Burlington — it's too provincial, it's too precious, it's too hippie, it's too commercial — they can never say it's boring. Well, they can, but they'd be wrong. Today proves my point.
As I was reading the paper this morning over my bowl of cardboard flakes and fake milk, I happened upon an ad touting the arrival of the Budweiser Clydesdale horses today at noon on Church Street. Glory be! This sure is my lucky day, I thought. There's nothing I love more than draft horses, unless it's a butterscotch-dipped creemee or karate, so I figured I had to carve out some time in my very busy schedule to go check them out.
Apparently the Clydes are in town from Merrimack, N.H., where they hang out and eat hay, for the Champlain Valley Fair, which starts Saturday. Nothing goes better with fried Oreos, cotton candy and turkey legs the size of a toddler than a huge helping of Clydesdale. Yum. At noon sharp, I ditched out of the top secret, off-site work location I call my bed and hustled over to see the Clydes. I found them at a staging area on St. Paul Street between Main and College streets. Three huge Budweiser tractor trailers that serve as the horses' luxe accommodation while on the road lined the street. I got there a little late and missed the animals getting all tacked up, but Manny — one of the equine grooms — told me it takes about an hour to get the eight horses all dolled up for the day. Dang, those nags are high-maintenance! Actually, they're not nags at all; they're all geldings who are at least four years old and stand six feet at the shoulder.
Once I sufficiently proved I was a "working journalist," I was given an all-access pass to the Clydes. And by "all access" I mean that I could move about a foot closer to them than the rest of the sorry crowd. I reached out to pet one of them, and Manny, who up to that point was engrossed in polishing up the harnesses for the 900th time, wheeled around and yelled at me not to touch the animals. Yeesh, you'd think they were made of tissue paper and my hands were soaking wet. So, rule one when hanging around the Clydes — no touching.
Rule two — no joking. After watching one of the team take an epic dumperoo on the pavement, I made a comment to the woman charged with shoveling the poo into a huge plastic bucket: "Looks like you drew the short straw today." No acknowledgement, not even a harrumph. I'm hoping she was hearing impaired.
Once all the important people had had their pics taken in front of the team, the wagon got moving, heading up College Street for a little tour of the city. The crowds followed, though not me. I had very important work to do. Like eating a three-hour lunch and sunning myself.