Even though I live just 2 hours away, spending time in my parents’ home town of Preston, Idaho is still quite an experience. Preston is a dingy quadranted burg with a total of two stop lights and can’t sustain a McDonalds, but it also boasts That Famous Preston Night Rodeo. In a place where the usual entertainment is gossip, the town bursts alive for three days every July when the population quadruples for the reunions, parades, sidewalk sales, carnival rides, and all the mutton bustin and rodeo queens you can handle. It might just look like riding a bunch of animals, catching a bunch of saltwater taffy, and buying a bunch of ziploc’d cookies from the old ladies’ clubs. But this is as good as it gets in Preston, and when you embrace that it can be tons of fun.
Maybe it’s just nostalgia for the events we experienced as kids when visiting from California. Grandma and Grandpa’s house, the house my family currently lives in, is right on the parade route: heaven for collecting parade candy. Or maybe it’s the novelty of rural cowboy life that was as far away as possible from how we grew up. The people-watching is a nonstop treat, from squeamishing at the dirties to trying to guess the locals from the visitors. But relatives and old friends are sure to stop by just in time for parade, and we’re always sad when the weekend’s over and Preston’s next big thing is a 362 days way.
Here’s an example of one of Preston’s quirks. In the local video store, you must seek out your selection according to the actors it stars rather than the genre. Makes for weird browsing, and no forgetting the name of that one guy.
This year we tried something a bit different. The parade entrants seemed to be a bit lacking the first two nights, so with two hours until the last parade of the weekend, my brother, sister, and I created this giant cotton candy out of our mom’s 4-wheeler, which two of my little cousins rode on to toss candy to the crowd. It’s not precisely what I envisioned, but considering we didn’t even leave Preston for supplies, I was pretty happy with it.