Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Welcome to our ‘Neck’ of the woods

For the readers who don't live in Baytown, this is my (somewhat sarcastic) commentary on a current Baytown controversy:

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published April 06, 2005

Dear Out-of-Town Visitors to the Baytown Long Neck Festival:

First, let me welcome you to Baytown for the first-ever Long Neck Festival May 13-15. We’re glad you’re coming, and we hope you bring lots of friends with you. Second, there has been a bit of confusion over the festival’s name. Please don’t let it discourage you from attending.

I have to be honest. The first time I saw the name of the upcoming festival, I thought it said “Redneck Festival.” On the second try, I read “Long Neck” and instantly thought of beer. So my first impressions of this event were redneck and beer. But let me assure you that this festival of ours isn’t about rednecks or beer. It’s about birds. Birds with long necks. Get it?

I am aware that there are birds with short necks. I guess we don’t give a rip about them.

Anyway, some people have assumed this festival is about beer. And it didn’t help when city leaders decided to allow alcohol to be sold and consumed at the festival. That made the line distinguishing bird from beer a little fuzzy. But the festival really is about birds.

What do birds have to do with Baytown? Well, let me tell you. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, Baytown is one of the best birding regions in the United States. Located along the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, people come to the Baytown area from all over the world to observe the large variety of native birds here.

But please keep in mind that this festival is only celebrating the birds that have long necks. Such as egrets. And geese. And herons. If any short-necked mockingbirds or mourning doves show up, we’re shooting them.

That’s just a joke. But why isn’t this event called the “Baytown Bird Festival” or some such? I really don’t know. I didn’t plan it. I’m just trying to clear up some confusion.

I’m glad Baytown is having a festival. Winnie has been having its own festival for years — celebrating rice, of all things — and it’s high time Baytown got a festival of its own. Yes, the name can be misleading. Personally, “Long Neck” makes me think of a cold bottle of Bud with ice sliding down the sides. When I want to think of an egret, I think of the word “egret.”

But let me stress once again that this event really isn’t about beer. It’s about birds. Long-necked ones. But if you are still confused, that’s OK. The city rearranged some long-standing ordinances so that this festival, which is strictly about birds, can include alcoholic beverages. So I guess to some people, the Long Neck Festival can be about beer — if they want it to be. But keep in mind that part of this festival’s function is to build Baytown’s image, and we want that image to officially be birds and not beer. So if a friend asks you the inevitable question: Birds or beer? Please reply “Birds.” Even if, to you, the festival means beer.

Because remember, the Baytown Long Neck Festival is about birds. The kind with long necks. Really.

Looking forward to seeing you,

Deana Nall

Beertown, Texas


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