Houghton Lake, where I'm at for a few months, is a resort town. The population is only a few thousand for half the year when the snow covers the area, but this increases dramatically in summer when the holiday house owners come up for weekends and longer and open up their beautiful waterfront homes.
There are also a few annual events which swell the numbers of non residents and this weekend we're having one of them - The Bud Bash. They estimate 6,000 people will come for the weekend and over 400 water craft will be moored behind the Limberlost which hosts the event. This is it's 21st year but it's only in the last decade that the numbers have grown so much and that petty crime has been an issue.
If ever an event could be classed as unique, this is it. Well unique by my standards of reference anyway - as I'm sure there may be events like it all over America. But I certainly can't imagine many bar/restaurants which stage a beer 'festival' where more customers arrive by water than by land !
The bash, as it's called, goes on all over the weekend and at the end of my daily walk yesterday, I popped along to take in the atmosphere and snap a few pics. The front of the place looked pretty normal to the casual passer-by but one clue that something different was going on came from the bikini clad females and bare chested males who were in the car park as well as wandering along both sides of the main road and surrounding areas. Being a resort town, the sight of a few such individuals wouldn't be out of place but this weekend we're talking about them in their hundreds.
As you can see from the photo, Budweiser were, and always have been, the sponsers and so the Bud Bash has made it's way into the town's history. This link is to the local news site so it may not always be available for viewing.
Entry to the bash is not free and so the outsides of the bar were fenced off and customers had to gain entry via a sort of Checkpoint Charlie set up - where money was exchanged for a colourful wrist band so you could leave and return without having to pay again.
When I was there, everyone seemed to be 'happy' and there were no signs of any trouble at all. Now if this had been in the UK, the police would've been out in riot gear and there would have been fighting and rioting, certainly scenes of throwing up and probably unconscious bodies lying all over the place. We are the drunken louts of the Western World and sadly take our behaviour wherever we go. It appears that for a large proportion of our youth, a good night out or even a good holiday abroad involves downing copious volumes of alcohol, throwing up shortly afterwards and waking up the following morning in some gutter or on a beach or if a similarly intoxicated and willing female was found, then in a bed which may have more than two occupants ! Hang on, maybe that IS a good night out !!!
But getting off my soap box and getting back to the bash, I went down the side of the fencing to get some shots of the crowds on the water. I noticed the police were set up at the waters edge and when they saw me, they said I was on private property and needed to leave. I apologised and hearing my accent and learning I was from England, they said I could take a few photos before needing to leave ! So I did.
This first photo doesn't give a good impression of the crowds and the number of boats as the view is close to the shore line.
I should imagine that as the alcohol consumption goes up, individuals attempting to walk along this dock to their boats could very well end up in the water. I guess that's one reason why there was an ambulance on site !
Depending on your point of view, the gent on the dock who is too short for his skin should be either wearing a shirt to spare the eyes those of a sensitive nature or should be proud of his body and sod anyone who thinks otherwise. He's gone for the later.
The next photo shows off the water 'car' park much better - it looks more like an MTV party than a small town beer festival.
The gent in the black closest to the camera seems to be doing, or about to do, something that the police behind me would class as worthy of their attention.
Given that two ladies (??) are about to pass him by, then several other citations could be aimed at him !
I'm not sure if the two up on the tower have seen too many episodes of Baywatch but I don't think sharks have ever been sighted in Houghton Lake......or any other lake come to that. Maybe they have just lost their Buds.
I've discovered that when certain American types have a little too much alcohol, they don't bother with fighting or throwing up as I said the Brits do. No, they get all competitive and want to show off their athletic prowess. Near the entrance gate, I found these 2 in a challenge to try to outdo each other with push ups.
Actually I'm not sure if any counting was involved and they were just keeping in time with each other till one dropped out - I didn't care enough to stay around to find out.
The car park was full of trucks and cars of course but there were plenty of gleaming bikes as well - mostly Harleys which their owners had spent many hours keeping in showroom condition. I assume it's sacreligious to let a dollup of mud or a spot of grease tarnish a Harley as I've never seen one other than in showroom condition.
That was yesterday and today, Sunday, it's very quiet from the area of the bash. Maybe they're having a day of rest too ! Maybe they're all out on the lake !! Maybe the beer ran out !!! Last year there were 120 arrests so we'll be watching the local news with interest to see if that's one challenge that was' bettered' this year.
UPDATE : the bash is over and the news report claims about 130 arrests were made this year - so slightly up on 2005.