Last Thursday was Delaware, Ohio’s big day. It was “Jug Day,” or the running of the Little Brown Jug Harness Race–one of the jewels of the Triple Crown of Harness Racing. Horses. Trotters or Pacers, which happens to be our high school mascot. The Delaware Hayes Pacers. (Rutherford B Hayes, our 19th president, was born and raised in Delaware.)
Every year in mid-to-late September everything in Delaware shuts down for the day. The kids get out of school. Most offices and restaurants close (at least for the day). And many of our town’s citizens can be found at ‘The Jug.’ We make it an annual event. An annual ADULTS ONLY event.
There is a grandstand and decent seating that people pay good money so that they can see the race. Not us, so far. My husband goes for the races the day before and sets up a tent and our chairs outside the fence at one of the turns. On Thursday he gets there early (around 9 or so), and I follow later, around 11 or noon. We sit by the same people every year. Everyone brings in their drink of choice (no glass allowed) and we sit back and watch the day unfold.
There is betting allowed, and I bet on one race (I’m not a huge gambler, but I pick one horse whose name I’m drawn to and go for it. Usually around $5). We have a card game we all play, with cards representing the horse’s number. You buy in ($1.00-$2.00) and pick a random card. If your horse wins, you get the pot.
The horses are beautiful, and the races are a lot of fun. But the best part of the day, for me, is people watching.
Where we sit is very democratic and open. We watch people stumble by. We see the young, the old, the properly and improperly dressed. We see all colors, shapes, and sizes. We meet people from all over the world (harness racing is big in many other countries, especially Canada). Watching people is the best part of the day.
It’s during the Delaware County Fair, so there is a midway and lots of really good, really bad-for-you foods. We eat mostly potatoes because the rest is all glutenish. I bring a box of wine and drink about 1/3 of it (if that). This year the weather was perfect; 70 degrees and sunny.
We sit with the same good friends every year, and other friends come and go. Many go on vacation (since the kids are out of school for Thursday and Friday), but we normally do not. Those that are around stop by or set up a chair.
The day is over by 6:00 or 7:00. We go home and talk about how much fun we had. And then we talk about next year.
I love ‘Jug Day’ and what it says about Delaware, Ohio. It’s a community, bringing together all walks of life. It accepts all comers, and, if you decide to stay for awhile, it will take you in as one of its own. We learned that when we moved here from Colorado, and we feel lucky that we chose Delaware to call home. Delaware is one of a kind, and Jug Day proves that.
Thank you Delaware, Ohio for making us one of yours. Thanks for letting us call you home
Emma Straub’s The Vacationers is all about that last chance vacation, and all the hope and magic it holds.
The Posts are the quintessential successful New York family — both parents are literary in nature and careers, the family does not own a car, and they are cosmopolitan in their thinking and their lives. And in their choice of vacations: Mallorca, a Spanish Island.
Franny Post is a food writer/critic who puts all her emotions into cooking and entertaining. Her husband, Jim, has just left his job at a high end men’s magazine under shady circumstances; he slept with an intern who happened to be the daughter of a board member. It seems that this hasn’t happened before and he is as shocked as anyone that it actually happened, but it may end his marriage nonetheless. Franny is seething, and their marriage is rocky, to put it lightly.
The Post children are also along on this vacation. Their older child, Bobby, is in his late 20’s and living with his older girlfriend, Carmen, a fitness guru in Miami. Bobby is experiencing financial problems, and knows nothing of his father’s recent career-ending affair.The two of them make the trip, along with their younger child, Sylvia, a recent high school grad on her way to Brown. She is DYING to get away from home and her high school friends, and Spain comes at a perfect time.
Added into the mix is Franny’s BFF Charles and his husband, Lawrence. The two having been trying to adopt a baby, which Charles is having some doubts about, although he hasn’t shared any of this with Lawrence. When they get the call, he must confront his doubts and come to terms with fatherhood.
This is a wonderful vacation book, the antithesis to Herman Koch’s Summer House with Swimming Pool, another family on vacation in the Mediterranean, but a much darker story that Straub’s. This is a little predictable with very well developed characters that I liked. I was cheering for them all to get their happy endings.
Fun and light, pick it up before your next trip to somewhere sunny. And have fun!