Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

February 20, 2014

Swing and a miss on PumpkinFest

Cooperstown Crier

---- — We must admit that we are probably not as caught up in sports as some people are. Granted we enjoy watching both professional and college football and are currently attempting to develop a like of college basketball. We have also watched some of the 2014 Olympics but we must admit that given the nature of some of the sports we tend to find ourselves watching various events holding our breath while waiting for the other ski to fall, as it were. Nonetheless, we took great notice of the fact that Yankees short stop Derek Jeter will retire at the end of 2014.

Normally we pay little attention to baseball news. However, over the years Derek Jeter has been brought to our attention more than once. Our first encounter with the short stop was in the form of a life size cutout of the famed short stop which was in the possession of our long time neighbor, Ann Rath. When we asked who the Yankees player gracing her room was, she showed great surprise as she explained it was Derek Jeter.

Now we can understand that as a long time Yankees fan, Ann would have been enamored with Jeter. However, when we attended a high school class reunion a number of years ago now, we were puzzled as to why some fellow classmates were excited to learn we lived in Cooperstown, announcing they fully intended to attend Derek Jeter’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Up until then, our experience with Michigan baseball fans when it came to the Yankees was less then positive.

When we asked why these fellow classmates would want to be in Cooperstown for Jeter’s induction, we were told, rather indignantly, that Jeter, like those of us at the reunion, had graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School. That was news to us. It was not something of which Ann Rath had informed us. But we certainly know it now.

We have since learned that Jeter was inducted into the Kalamazoo Central’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003. It also renamed its baseball field in his honor in 2011. So, when Jeter’s time comes to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, we suspect we might not be the only Kalamazooites in town.

We were somewhat surprised to read that the Cooperstown PumpkinFest will be no more. Unfortunately, it was one of those events we were always going to attend, but never did. And now it seems we won’t. However, from what we have read, it will be replaced by another event, “Fall into Cooperstown ... Where Pumpkins Fly,” which will transform Cooperstown into a “magical fall-inspired village.” It almost sounds like something out of the Magic Kingdom at Disney World.

It reminds of the time when we were planning the 1986 Cooperstown Bicentennial when a representative from I Love New York came to give us some pointers. And the one thing that we really remember was her advice concerning organic versus synthetic events. The organic events, which she felt tended to be more successful, grew naturally out of a community in that they were related somehow to the comings and goings of the community. Synthetic events were imposed on the community even though they had little, if anything, to do with the community. And thus we tend to use this explanation when judging various events.

And while we don’t think Cooperstown was known for its growing of large pumpkins, we always thought that at least the pumpkin growing spoke to our agricultural background, making it an organic event. And for us at least, it also reminded us of the rather unusual pumpkins which our late husband’s grandfather used to produce. Somehow, the man was able to write the he-we’s name on the pumpkin seed which would result in a pumpkin vine producing a pumpkin with the he-we’s name on it. And we understand this was done for other members of the family as well.

Thus, although there was talk of this new fall event increasing business in the village, we were encouraged to also learn that it includes other exciting pumpkin contests such as the longest line of carved pumpkins and the launching of pumpkins into the air. Doing so would at least tend to recognize the area’s agricultural underpinning, giving it a sense it was slightly organic in nature.

Not long ago we received an e-mail decrying the new design of the NBC News website. We were asked if we had seen it. We hadn’t but we decided we should perhaps take a peek at it. We were stunned. It had been transformed from a website featuring headlines for the various articles nicely arranged by topic. What we found almost seemed to be a rather random picture book for adults. Each article featured a picture and a headline. Clicking on a headline lead to a synopsis of the article. In order to read the entire article a second click was required. It seemed like way more work than it was worth. It also made us think the news was being reduced to 25 words or less. Plus we were unable to figure out how articles might be grouped by topic.

Perhaps, if we spent some time on it, we might be able to figure the website out. But we decided it was probably easier to simply move on to another news source which would tend to place more emphasis on the written word, not just on the pictures which might illustrate the written word. Of course, with all such redesigns, our fear is always that every other website will follow suit.

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