July had a few rapid-fire events thrown at me. Mid-July called for Festa Italiana - arguably Milwaukee's biggest ethnic summer festival. The Air & Water show flew into town on the 25th & 26th, leaving people dazed, confused, and deaf. Late July & early August had us at a few Timber Rattlers games in Appleton, an MS ride in Madison, followed by an afternoon in Bourbonnais, IL to watch the Chicago Bears training camp. Finally, my brief conclusion of late July & early August events ends with the Wisconsin State Fair from August 6th to the 16th. Thank god I only worked 3 days of that...
Festa Italiana - held down at Henry Maier Fairgrounds, was an astounding success for Pal ermo's. Somehow they got to be the ONLY pizza vendor on the site. How on earth? Friday the 17th was my first taste of Festa, as I got to bartend a private party for the CEO's friends. I opened wine bottles and poured Italian Peroni from the tap for about 6 hours and watched business-like people, grocery managers, and other people I'd never met go from sober to sauced in no time. Getting drunk at places you shouldn't get drunk at is always a good idea. I highly recommend it next time you're at a black tie event, or something of the like. Around dusk, a 'Pinnochio Parade' takes place, complete with creepy male flag-throwers dressed in their Magic the Gathering outfits and a wooden bicycle-riding beloved Pinnochio character. It was somewhat odd. Every night ends with a dazzling array of only the best Chinese fireworks, shot off a barge anchored in Lake Michigan. Saturday afternoon I put frozen pizzas in a triple layer conveyor oven. It left a lot to be desired. I was bored. Friday night was much more fun.
Oh, the Air & Water Show. A busier than expected weekend. The city was full of squinting skyward Wisconsinites, dying to get a glimpse of aviation goodness. Which, I must admit, was completely inspiring. People balancing on bi-planes, jets cruising what looked like INCHES next to each other, and the 'holy shit, i cant hear a thing' FA-18 Navy fighter planes which set off car alarms for hours. Note - when you arrive at your destination an hour before an event of this magnitude begins - you're an idiot. We showed up at Milwaukees Lakefront at 9am - to find that there was NO way in hell we were going to get our 22 foot by 9 foot machine in our designated spot. Lawn chairs, cars, trucks, dogs, people, veterans, airplanes - were just a few of the things standing in our way of setting up. We hopped the curb (seriously) in bumper to bumper traffic and parked our rig between some pine trees in an ill advised spot and immediately began to set up. It did work out though, as we were busy the entire day. A seriously hectic morning turned into a worthwhile day of pie making goodness. Sunday was the same story. We did get to our 'spot' earlier on this day. The Navy's F15 Strike Eagle and FA 18 Hornet scared the shit out of people left and right. Felt like Milwaukee was under attack. My eardrums weren't the same for 3 days. The spectacle was awesome though. I completely understand why EAA in Oshkosh is such a cool deal. Aviation is cooler than most things.
The next part of the trip definitely had it's ups and downs. Very hard to describe because we never really stayed in one spot. Almost 4 different hotels in 4 days. A small amount of downtime, but not too much. Very different events all 4 days. Some very busy, some ... lame as hell. On July 31st we drove from Milwaukee to Appleton for a Timber Rattlers game. This involves the team sampling pizza from our rig in a parking lot. This trip was Katie's first. She's a huge part of my Summer, as she's my high school friend who initially got me this job. I owe her a ton of thanks, as - if you can't tell - my Summer has been an absolute blast. Her husband is my boss, and we've had a ton of fun up to this point. She's heard about the fun goings-on, and wanted to experience it first hand. This was not to be had this evening. We pull up to the stadium parking lot, which is empty, and turn off the truck to go find someone in charge to tell us where to set up. A few minutes later, my boss Kevin comes back to right our vehicle. Click. The key turns, and the vehicle is unresponsive. Click. Click. Click. Nothing. We try to turn our vehicle ON for ten minutes, to no avail. Backstory - remember those transmission problems we had in Minnesota before block party? Well, in the morning, on THIS exact Friday, we installed a NEW transmission in the truck. A cool $3,500. 2 hours of accident-free driving into Appleton, and THIS is how the truck repays us? Fuck. FORD really does stand for 'found on road dead'. So we have a piece of shit truck that has an expensive machine hitched on the back...facing the complete wrong direction, a few feet away from port-o-pottys. Our lives suck at this point. Eventually after phone calls to Timber Rattlers office, tow truck companies, and body shops (5:30pm on a Friday - they were thrilled to work on our truck, I'm sure), we averted disaster and found a Rattler's staffer who had a truck, which got us in the right spot. I spent the event driving back and forth with an intern who's job it was to make sure we were taken care of. Nick the intern - be happy your internship is paid. After a stressful afternoon and a boring, lame event (EEA was happening this weekend in Oshkosh, so game turnout was low), we decided to treat ourselves. Lombardi's steakhouse in downtown Appleton was beckoning. Unfortunately, our nice evening was ruined by an individual named Robin. Robin had absolutely no desire to work at Lombardi's steakhouse this Friday evening. Not only was she unpleasant - she was incredibly rude and snotty. While our table talked about how nice the environment was, as the restaurant was basically empty, she turned around as she walked away and said, "WELL, it IS 9 oclock on a Friday night..." and huffed and puffed her way to the kitchen. This was within 4 minutes of being seated. What a cunt. It only got worse. Between her rolling eyes, impatient breaths, and inability to properly serve any of us - we actually laughed at how bad she was. A fitting end to a shitty day. Robin from Lombardi's - honestly - take a step back, and literally fuck your own face. An infamous person on the 'People we've met list' for the summer.
Saturday, the first day of August. 2 months and change of being on the road. Disc golfed at Kaukauna's Grignon Park in the afternoon. Immaculate front 9 - really impressive. Huge open hills paired with narrow dog-legged pins hidden in the woods. Katie read a book in the truck as bossman and I shot a round. The truck had no problems today, and the weather was beautiful, so it was looking up for us. Our event lasted 4 hours. It was mostly boring again today, and we had a hard time getting rid of pizza. Tailgaters usually bring food to tailgate with. That seems like the correct way to do it, right? Naturally people aren't chomping at the bit to stuff more food into their gullets. No time for fun though. 7pm our event conlcluded - and we had to drive 2 hours to get to Madison, as we had a bright & early date with the Alliant Energy Center. If you know Madison - there is a Sheraton hotel directly across said Energy Center. This is obviously where we were scheduled to stay. We book our reservations through Orbitz - usually months, or weeks in advance. Long story short - after we arrived at 9pm - we were told that this Sheraton was 'overbooked', and we had to find a different hotel. Why does life hate us? We were tired, ornery, and none too happy. So instead of being DIRECTLY across from our event for the next morning, the Sheraton decided to 'let us' stay at a Country Inn & Suites in Monona. I lived in Madison for a year and a half, so I do the driving to get us there, as the beast is not always easy to drive, with the wide turns and all. Again we're frustrated, so we quick shower and head to my favorite bar, and favorite ex-place to work for - Madison's best brewpub - the Great Dane. We unhitch our trailer and head to beer heaven. We fill our stomachs with glorious beer and deep fried food, and all is better again. Until we get back to the hotel. Upon arriving in our parking lot, we see that SOMEONE HAS PARKED US IN. Seriously. The lot is nowhere near full. Not a bit. And some moron in a white dodge literally parks next to our unhitched trailer, making it impossible for us to connect to it, and take it to another place. Our event happens to be around 8am Sunday morning. Kevin, Katie and I are furious, yet all we can do is laugh. Kev leaves a bitter note that reads "Car with license ###### must move by 8am. It is parking us in. Thank you." by the desk clerk, who's currently on the phone. We go to sleep.
Sunday. The sabbath day. An MS benefit bike ride ends at the Alliant Energy Center today. We put our matching Summer Tour Shirts on and head outside to drive the uneccessary 3 miles to our event. But we can't, cuz MORON ASSHOLE'S CAR IS STILL THERE. Who parks next to a giant trailer, obviously stopping said trailer from being moved since they are a few feet from the hitch? I wouldn't, would you? Boss goes back to the hotel clerk who calls the room of the moron. Minutes later, a skinny bitch in ripped jeans and a white tanktop comes out, clearly hungover. "Oh...I'm sorry", she says. As she pulls away to find a new spot, we notice bags of Qdoba garbage all over the ground underneath her car. This pisses us off even more. Kevin takes matters into his own hands, and brings the to-go Qdoba mess over to her car and gently hangs it on the mirrors. No one likes a litterer. We work on and off from 10 am to 6pm ish. We see a dirty baby fox playing in the mud in the morning, and dirty sweaty bicyclists in the afternoon. Once again though, we don't have time for anything - and we immediately pack up and head to Illinois. Bears training camp looms tomorrow. It takes us 4 hours to get to the middle of nowhere town called Bourbonnais. We meet a bald character named Bill outside of our hotel before checking in. He informs us that 9000 people went to watch the camp today. We're screwed tomorrow...
Monday morning comes and the putrid navy & orange colors fill our eyes with sorrow. Olivet Nazerene University is a beautiful location for the team though - great looking Christian college. Pal ermo's is an official sponsor of the Bears, and is being sold within Soldier Field this year. Cool. Fans had to walk by our location to get to the practice fields, so many fans took in a sausage piece straight to the face. That makes a bakers dozen there, Bob. We leave as soon as we are allowed to. The millions of orange construction barrels taunted us as we drove north home. A hectic 4 days to say the least.
Last but not least - the Wisconsin State Fair. OH the Wisconsin State Fair. No pizza trailer oven machine this time, as we had an actual booth in the Wisconsin Products Pavilion. By the powers that be - I was only scheduled to work THREE times during this fiasco. Three out of ten, or twelve or however many days the state fair went on was FINE by me. I passed the time by counting mullets (not my own), and playing a version of 'state fair bingo', made (somewhat) by yours truly. Pic to come later. Let's just say I found only one 'skullet' - shaved top of head with mullet features everywhere else. A new fav to say the least. As you can imagine, the people watching was epic. The owners son ran the event every day, so it was nice to get hooked up with a variety of Wisconsin products, as we bartered pizza for...well, whatever we wanted. Props to Cedar Crest Ice Cream next to us. Thank you sir may I have another. State Fair was boring, for the most part, even tho we were busy every minute of every day.
I think I've covered it all. Check out the pics. I love you.