How do Swedes roll?

Today we headed to Ithaca for the 10th Annual International Rutabaga Curling Championship. Honestly. You can read about it here in wikipedia. The rutabaga, I found out from loads of helpfully-placed signs decorating the Farmers' Market stalls this morning, is generally called a swede in the other English-speaking countries but here in the US, we use the word rotabagge, which is drawn from a Swedish dialect and means "root ram." (Yes, I know that sounds like a euphemism for something naughty.)

For some reason, there were alpacas at the event. I petted them. They were soft and nice, but they smelled like barn. After the parade of contestants, we huddled around the curling pitch to watch the first event, the Turnip Toss, which kids under 8 can enter. They tossed their little turnips towards the bullseye on the ground, but most overshot the mark or veered off to one side. A man on stilts, wearing "pants" made out of green-and-black shaggy leopard print material, interviewed the winner in a fake German accent. (Nope, no idea why.)

The actual rutabaga roll was a bit more interesting, if only because rutabagas can be anywhere from the size of a baseball to the size of a small basketball. They have to be able to roll in all directions and are inclined to roll at the spectators. This entails a lot of jumping out of the way, which does help keep you warm in the 35-with-a-windchill-of-25 cold. A couple standing near us tried to enlist us in the contest - they had signed up and even purchased a rutabaga but decided to leave early - but we didn't want to wait until their number (75) was called. Apparently if there is a foul on the play, one of the referees penalizes the tosser by holding the rutabaga aloft and going at it with a giant cheese grater. And the overseer of the whole event appeared to be an elderly man in a kilt (sans stockings, but with a flask in his knee-highs), whom the emcee kept calling Jacques Strap. (Maybe he originated the curling event. The Scots did bring the rutabaga from Sweden and introduce it to the rest of the world, after all.)

And that was my morning in upstate NY. At least I learned that swedes are heavy and wobbly.


Anonymous said…
Man, you live in a WEIRD place!

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