Tag Archives: competition

Antelope Valley Fair

Text: 

The Antelope Valley Fair in Lancaster, CA

Minor Genre: 

Festival; Celebration

Context: 

“One of the festivals we had growing up was the Antelope Valley Fair. I think these [fairs] go back to where every year, you grow a crop and all the farmers bring in their best livestock and crops and whatever and show off what they made. It’s a huge community coming together to have a celebration.

“In Lancaster, [the fair] was basically all of the kids who did FFA and 4H and would bring their show animals. Steers, pigs, and sheep were the main livestock. One year, I had a grand champion lamb that I showed. But [in addition to the livestock], you still had all the other arts and crafts and stuff and everything else. It always happened the last week of summer before school started.

“I was there every year, but probably when I was seven or eight was when I started 4H, and that was when we got really into it. But we probably went there just for fun my whole life. My dad’s older brothers did the haybaling competition; before everything was automated, guys would go out on trucks and have to lift these hay bales with pulleys and hay forks. They had tractor races, too –– basically anything associated with a farm. My uncles were haybaling champions for many years in the 1950s.”

Analysis:

Antelope Valley’s first main industry was agriculture, with farmers crowing crops such as alfalfa, various fruit, carrots, onions, lettuce, and potatoes. The city of Lancaster emerged as a bustling city with successful farming at the end of the 19th century, and in the 1980s, had a large increase in population due to the development of new housing tracts. The informant was born in 1974 and would have experienced the Antelope Valley Fair during the period of this population boom, which may have corresponded with a popularity increase in the county fair.

The informant’s memories of the Antelope Valley Fair suggests a heavy agricultural influence in both their personal life and in the city of Lancaster. He had a history of farmers in his family –– the informant’s father raised animals, and his uncles had experience baling hay –– which likely skewed his perception of the fair to lean more heavily on its agricultural experiences, particularly because the informant himself participated in 4H. Additionally, the farm-oriented activities such as competitive hay-baling suggest that success as a farmer was a highly valued trait in Antelope Valley during the time period.

Loggers Jamboree Folk Tradition

Nationality: American
Primary language: English
Age: 58
Occupation: Insurance salesman
Residence: Mercer Island, WA

Text

As a kid, MD’s grandpa took him to the Loggers’ Jamboree every year. His grandpa had been a logger for a long time, and this was a yearly tradition where local loggers got together to celebrate. There were tons of competitions, all of which MD’s grandpa participated in and usually won at. They had competitions where two men would get on a log with spiked shoes and they tried to roll each other off into the water. MD’s grandpa couldn’t swim, so it was kind of scary for MD to watch. There were also competitions where teams of two men competed to see who could chop down trees the fastest. They had old fashioned saws that had a handle for each man. They also had arm wrestling.

Context

MD’s grandpa took him to the Loggers’ Jamboree every year from when he was 4 to when he was 8. These memories bring him a lot of joy. It made him feel like his grandpa was like Superman because he always won. MD didn’t have much to say on the meaning of the tradition besides that it was a way for loggers to connect.

Analysis

Logging is both a niche profession and one that is traditionally associated with masculinity. As such, the Loggers’ Jamboree is a perfect way for this folk group to get together and share what they have in common. These competitions showcase that loggers value strength, persistence, and strategy, which are traits often tied to manhood. To be strong is often to be masculine, especially in folk groups full of traditionally masculine men. Whoever is strongest is the winner, further showcasing the importance of strength and persistence in the logging career. The tree-cutting competition seems to value cooperation and teamwork. After all, a long saw cannot be used by a single man–there must be two. Whichever team cuts the tree fastest is the winner, showcasing that speed and cooperation are equally important in logging. This seems to represent a value of brotherhood amongst loggers–they must be strong together. Since logging is a niche tradition, I would argue that the Loggers’ Jamboree is also a way to celebrate rare skills shared amongst a small folk group. Not everyone understand what it is to be a logger or the skills necessary to do the job, so celebrations of this field help reinforce the job’s value within the folk group. This is similar to the firefighters in Chapter 4 of Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: An Introduction (Oring, McCarl). This event wasn’t just closed to loggers, though–MD was invited, too. It seems that this logging celebration also celebrates the loved ones of loggers, inviting them to share in a niche culture and enjoy its games without its struggles.

Korean Children’s Games

Text: Gong-gi is the name of a children’s game played in Korea

Context: One of my friends from Korea talked about a traditional children’s game that has been passed down. It is known as Gong-gi and she talked about how the game is “played with five stones and it’s very common to see stones on the floor” which is why she believes it’s passed down. She also mentioned that “usually in elementary school or before elementary school” is the age most people play this game “but [one] can still play as [they] grow up”. Overall, the game is played through 5 stages that are repeated. Essentially, “every time [people] start with 5 stones and every time [people] would spread out the stones on the floor”. For the first stage, players would grab throw 1 and grab 1 each. The second stage is similar except you grab 2 at the same time twice. In the third stage, 1 stone is thrown and 3 are grabbed at the same time and then 1 stone is thrown again and the last stone is grabbed. For the fourth stage, 1 stone is thrown while the other 4 are placed on the floor and the 1 falling from the sky is grabbed. The 1 that was falling is thrown again but this time the 4 stones on the ground are grabbed and the 1 tossed in the air a second time is caught again. The fifth and final stage has people flip their hands (palm side down) so the stones will rest on the back of the hand and all of the stones are thrown into the air from the back of one’s hand and one tries to catch all of the stones. My friend explained the process and how “each stone is a point…at stage five [one] gets the point”. When I asked if the most points determine the winner she said “usually [people] can just go forever or set a goal score”. She thinks it was her “grandma and [her] aunt that taught [her] this when [she] was young but [she] really got into this in fourth grade…during breaks homeroom teachers wanted students to play this”. She mentioned that originally this game was “thought of as a game for girls but because [they] made it into…[they] became very competitive so the guys started to master their skills too…every break time everyone in the class would be sitting on the floor playing this game…had tournaments every day”. Overall she thought that the game was “really good with brain-hand connection because [one] has to think strategically how [they] are gonna place the stones…how are they gonna spread the stones…[one] has to think quick…moving [one’s] fingers around. When asked why she thought the game was important, she said that “to her, it’s important because it’s a Korean traditional game…keeping the tradition going…also because it can be very competitive…good game to pass time and be competitive with friends”.

Analysis: After some research, it became apparent that this game is not only played in Korea. Other European countries play this game with slightly altered rules and or objects used to play the game. Overall, the simplicity of the game shows a little bit about the culture in Korea. People don’t need fancy new kid’s games to have fun. I think here in America young children today are not easily entertained, even with expensive toys. The many aspects of this game also show that the Korean culture emphasizes more stimulating games for kids as well as competition from a young age. This game focuses on motor skills (physical), strategy (mental), and competition (social). It also shows that tradition is important to Koreans as this game continues to be passed down through generations.

Christmas Eve Gift

Context: Informant has a sister, both have been celebrating the holiday Christmas since they were children together. The two sisters now live in separate states, but continue their Christmas traditions. Christmas Eve is the day before Christmas day, Christmas day is when presents from family, friends, and Santa are typically opened. Santa is a Christmas figure for children, who leaves presents on the night of Christmas Eve for the children to open on Christmas morning. Informant has passed down their Christmas traditions to their own children and family.

Tradition: “We would have this game, that on Christmas Eve, whoever said “Christmas Eve Gift” to the other person first, got to open the first present on Christmas Eve. We, my parents and us, we open the presents from friends and extended family on Christmas Eve, and we would open Santa’s presents and family presents on actual Christmas. So, if you wanted to open the first present at all ever, then you needed to win the game. So, we would get up really early and wake up everyone else by telling them Christmas Eve gift. We weren’t as crazy about it as my kids are now. They’re out here writing stuff on walls, and sleeping on the couch, and staying up till 12. We weren’t that, uh, we weren’t quite that dedicated. Me and my sister still play together too. Although, she lives an hour ahead of me, so she pretty much always wins. She just sends a text message.”

Background Information: Informant was born into a Christian family, and has been a Christian basically all their lives, and as such they have celebrated Christmas every year of their lives. The holiday holds a lot of meaning to them, and passing down their Christmas traditions to their children is very important to them. They have many other traditions associated with the holiday, such as specific foods, movies, activities, music, ect.. Christmas is definitely the biggest holiday of the year for them, and they were happy when talking about their traditions.

Thoughts: I think this is a wholesome tradition which unites family and gets everyone excited for the holiday. Furthermore, since the parents have to set up the gifts from ‘Santa’ while the children sleep, the tradition might have started as a way to tire the kids out the night before. Whether or not this is the humble origin story, the tradition has grown from there, and become a much bigger tradition. I think it makes sense that children would embrace it and lean into the competitive side of the tradition. It’s also a way to unite the family, and obviously it works, seeing as informant still practices the tradition with their sister despite living in different states. Family both physically present and not are able tp connect through this tradition.

Number Games and Familial Ties

“A game that my family has given meaning is we play a number guessing game, especially on road trips and it started out as a joke by my dad because my sister and I would always ask for things to do or things to play.  But it’s evolved into something that we unironically choose to do because we’ve given it such meaning. To me, it, it, it symbolizes … it’s hard to describe, it symbolizes, like, the nature of friendly competition and always loving to challenge each other to silly little things. It’s really a simple and rather stupid game.  You give them a range and you give them a certain number of tries to guess the number, and you tell them ‘higher or lower’ to see if they can guess the number.  and while it may seem like it’s sort of just luck, we’ve gotten to the point where we can make more informed guesses based on who came up with the number because we know each other so well. and then that way it also just symbolizes our connection…”

Background: The informant is a 19 year-old college student who went on road trips often with his family growing up.  The game shared with me was created by his father when he was 9 and has become a staple part of their traveling as a family in the years since.

Context: I was told about this game in USC’s Annenberg Hall during a quick interview.

It’s interesting how simple games can become a symbol of a family’s close connections to each other.  Shared activities like the number game can become a small group of people’s defining characteristic, and the informant was enthusiastic about how they could guess the patterns that each player used in the game as an indicator of how well they knew each other.