Retire Mechanical engineer. Student at California State university Channel Island studiyingAbout Me

July 25, 2015

4th of July

My wife and I enjoyed volunteering at the Ventura 4th of July Street Fair booth for the Ventura County American Turkish Association (VATAN), a non-profit organization to promote knowledge of Turkey and friendship among Turks and Americans.

The all-day street fair runs almost the entire length of Main Street in downtown Ventura and is visited by thousands of happy people.
Preceding us in volunteer time were VATAN members Hikmet and Berk, who set up the booth, and after us would be the Sankurs and the Hamsioglus.

The sole purpose of the booth is to introduce people to Turkey and all that it offers and our "job" as volunteers was to greet people and answer any questions they might have regarding Turkey.

Because parking is at a premium, we decided to leave home early, breakfast at Denny's and then head on up to Ventura. Luckily we found a parking spot close to the cross-street where the booth is located.

After checking in with Hikmet and Berk, we had an hour to enjoy walk up and down Main Street, checking out all the booths and do some people-watching.

We returned to the booth for our designated time, and were instructed on things to watch out for. Berk laughed and said that the Hershey chocolate would go fast, understandably a very popular item, but that there were plenty of Turkish cookies to refill the large cookie container.

The booth tables were filled with colorful brochures to hand out and a large map of Turkey, indicating historical places.

We started meeting and greeting and before I knew it the dish with the Hershey's was empty.

My wife gave me another box and I refilled the dish. I turned to pick up some brochures, turned back and the dish was nearly empty. My wife started laughing and I looked quizzically at her.

She whispered that a large family, in number and in size (yes, overweight) had grabbed most of the candy in one rush and then were gone in the blink of an eye. One of the children ran back to take more, but by then it was all gone.

At one point, I was totally lost.

The front of our booth was so crowded that other people stopped, curious as to what was going on and we were three-deep in people asking questions.

At the same time, there was chaos with the booth next to us.

They were shouting about 'save our hills' and 'buy a T-shirt!' with one of their volunteers standing right in front of our booth.

As the waves of people continued, some stopped to talk, others only to take cookies. Someone asked if there were any Hershey's left and I told them that I was sorry, but we ran out. Several people asked if the other cookies were for dogs. Huh?

Well, I know many people bring their dogs, but still… so I told them the cookies were for toddlers and they scooped up as many as they could.

Some people stopped by, proud to say they were Turk, or had a spouse who was a Turk, or a grandparent who was a Turk, or just proud to say they were dating a Turk.

Others were happy to tell us of their wonderful travels to Turkey and how they look forward to going back. Several asked if there were any Turkish restaurants close by; they missed the good food.

Still others stopped only for the cookies. Some asked for permission, but many did not say a word, not even a smile, just scooped up the cookies and were gone.  Here we were trying to advertise our country, but it seemed some people were not interested in knowing about Turkey, they were only interested in taking another cookie.

I found it fascinating that the people who were interested in Turkey rarely took a cookie.

As we watched the crowds pass by, it was amazing how many people wore some kind of clothing of the American Flag. Shirts, T-shirts, muscle-man T-shirts, shorts, overalls, skirts, dresses, some to the point of being obscene.

There were halter tops with women’s breasts literally hanging out of the sides, and yes, even underwear worn by an overweight woman sitting on the curb opposite us. I am sure she was not aware of how much she was exposing, only a couple of stripes covered her unmentionables.

Really, an eye patch would have covered more than her flag underwear.

I can understand those having the figure to wear a flag bikini, and it is pleasant to look at a beautiful figure and the flag, but someone who is over 200 pounds?

We were happy to see Vega and Haluk arrive. By that time, we were both tired and hungry, but spent a few minutes catching up and then off to Winchester's Bar and Grill for a well-deserved cold beer and hamburger (organic of course).