The highlight of the summer in Hammond is undeniably Pierogifest. All Vt-ers need to visit Pierogifest at least once in their lives. All it's important to understand the distinction between and among the various pierogi venders. That's why I'd recommend that if you go, make sure you have a local expert with you who can steer you toward the pierogis with the best dough, and the most generous portions of meat, cheese, or fruit.
Someone like Dabs, in fact.
But pierogifest is more than just pierogis. It's also a celebration of the Eastern European heritage of the peoples who made Hammond their home. One of the highlights for me were the ethnic dancers who entertained the crowds on this hot July afternoon. (Let me tell you how hot it was: it was so hot that if a pierogi fell onto the sidewalk, it would melt in ten seconds.)
But looking at these dancers, you would think it was a crisp autumn day. Kudos to them! Most of the dance groups came from either Chicagoland or Toronto.
The author, Jean Shepard, was a local Hammond boy. Hohman Indiana, which appears in his books, is actually supposed to represent Hammond.
Jean Shepard's most well known work is the movie "Christmas Story" which was adapted from his collection of short stories "In God we Trust, All Others Pay Cash". Jean Shepard provides the narration in the movie and also appears in a cameo. Some of the short stories originally appeared in Playboy magazine.
In the 19+ years that I have lived in Indiana, the 2008 Presidential primary in May and the general election in November were the 1st time that I actually had a chance to cast a meaningful vote in a Presidential election. There are two major flaws, in my opinion, with the way that we elect the President of our country. The 1st is the primary election that determines the Democratic and Republican nominees for President. Instead of allowing states to have their primaries earlier on some kind of rotating basis, certain states such as Indiana have theirs so late in the process that usually the nominee has already been chosen as candidates drop out of the contest.
The 2nd is the electoral college. When we vote in the general election, all of the state's votes go to the candidate with the most votes so a President can be elected that did not win the popular vote and it did happen in 2000 when Gore had the popular vote but Bush had more electoral college votes. Indiana always votes Republican so anyone voting for a Democrat, well, their vote really doesn't count. Well, that is until 2008, the 1st time that Indiana voted for a democrat since 1964. And the 1st time that I had to wait in line to vote, this election really stirred people up.
The Democratic primary race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama lasted until after Indiana voted, they both made multiple appearances appearances across the state and we all felt that Indiana might actually have a say in this thing. Hillary Clinton was supposed to make an appearance in Gary, IN but at the last minute the venue was switched to the Civic Center in Hammond so we headed over to see the 1st Presidential candidate to pass through Indiana in all the years I've lived here. A couple of weeks later her husband, former President Bill Clinton, made an appearance in Whiting and I got VIP access thanks to a relative of mine.
In the end Indiana came out in favor of Hillary Clinton but it wasn't enough to overtake Barack Obama who went on to be the democratic nominee and eventually the 44th President of the United States. Our county, Lake County, blundered a bit by either withholding our votes to make it look like we put Obama to victory over Clinton or not counting them very fast (I think it's the former) with the Mayor of Hammond and Gary duking it out on CNN.
Every year on the darkest evening of the year (the winter solistice, December 21st), my husband leads a band of "Frosties" over the golf course and through the woods for a reading of the Robert Frost poem "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening". In 2010, Chicago Tribune columnist Barbara Brotman joined us and here is a link to the article she wrote that appeared on January 6, 2011
"Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" By Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.