So months ago Ms. Evil Overlord and I were at this poker night, at the home of a couple of friends, and we met this other couple. It was pretty obvious right off the bat that they're my people and we spent some time shooting the shit. They told us how much they love the Salt Spring Island Toy Run, which was perfect because I'd been wondering about it for years, but hadn't heard much firsthand. They officially put it on my radar, so I reached out. Very very glad I did. Now you can tell a lot about an event by the communication you have with the organizers in the months leading up to it and in this case I was talking with the lovely and charming Helena, who absolutely had her poop in a group. She assured us that camping with our gear wouldn't be an issue and was even able to arrange electrical, so we could accept debit and credit cards and run lights to stay open after dark, not to mention a space heater, which is always sweet.
On our way over, We stumbled across a couple of laid back, friendly dudes at the BC ferries terminal, who were heading to the run as well. They were just as pumped about it as the couple we'd met months before, and when we got to the site, after an easy-breezy twenty minute drive across Salt Spring Island, we knew why. The Salt Spring Island Farmer's Institute was absolutely one of the most beautiful venues we've set up in. No joke. I was a little kid in BC in the 70's and it felt like I'd stepped into a time warp. Apple trees, colorful wooden booths to camp in and a ton of open space. We hopped out of the Baby Dragon into the sunshine, hailed the first cluster of happy we saw, who were already putting back some cold ones, and they steered us in the general direction of some in-charge types with a smile. Turned out pretty much all the do-stuff types were in the dance hall, planning and plotting and doing stuff. Enter Helena's man Kevin. Now Kevin's one of those old school BC boys that I instantly feel like I grew up with. Friendly rockstar grin and just a total relaxed vibe. Second we met him I wanted to give him a big old bro hug. Then Helena pulled up in a truck with her own warm smile a few minutes later and I knew for a fact that these were good peeps. Rest of the weekend was gonna be awesome, no question. They had us squared away with a spot for our movable castle and some power in a jiff, pointed us at the stage and the beer garden for later, and left us to it. We set up our house of swag, gave a shy little lady her first bandana and taught her how to tie it, were pleasantly surprised with some early business, and then headed over to check out the refreshing beverages and entertainment.
Holy jumping Hell! Now I've worked and been to a ridiculous number of big name concerts over the years, but the opening night band, The Costners? These boys are the real deal. Just unbelievably fun and talented, wanted to murder my phone when I played the videos for this here write up just now and found out it made them sound like they were playing from the bottom of a tiny tin can. Do yourself a favor and find an excuse to check them out live sometime, you won't forget it. It was just icing on the cake that we were all out in an apple grove, under the stars, with some funky lighting and an appreciative crowd for that first night. Not to sound too artsy, but that shit was magical. Total bucket list material folks. After the beer garden closed and the band wrapped for the night, we were in for a nice surprise, folks were lining up to grab Mexican Saddle Roll Blankets, Kustom Baja Hoodies and Gremlin bells. Gets cold at night don'tcha know and you wanna be lucky right? The support was seriously awesome and deeply appreciated. After the crowd slowed down we wandered off to drink beers and shake paws with the rest of the early birds that would be camping out with us. Great crew of people, they welcomed us in with open arms and had us totally stoked for the weekend's shenanigans in no time flat.
Saturday was just about perfect. Woke up to fresh coffee and pulled pork and egg breakfast sammiches and the prettiest, sunniest day in a stunning apple orchard on a small not-so-far-away Island you could wish for. Everyone was having a blast, another Kevin got his Gremlin bell cherry popped in a big way, and we all got down to the serious business of having fun. Between customers, Helena and her Kevin asked us if we wanted to be in the balloon race. Not really my bag, but when we heard they were gonna have to cancel the event due to a lack of racers, we jumped in and took one for the team. Won that sucker too. lord knows how. I am one funny drunkie flip flop runner. We had offered to put up some prizes for the bike games, a Mexican Saddle Roll blanket, shirts, a Kustom Baja hoodie and some stainless steel rings, and it was a total hoot to dish 'em out and meet the winners. We happily donated some more prizes for the silent auction, another Kustom Baja Hoodie and one of our Purple Heather Ringer Tees for the girls, with bandanas for both, and headed up to the hall for the eats. Dinner was unbelievable. Slow rotisserie roasted beef with salads, (the local tomatoes were amazeballs) and tasty tasty potatoes. Down home fresh and delicious. If my food was a girl, and I wasn't already a happily taken little puppy, I'd have married it on the spot. The chef and her crew were pretty rad too. Happy Daze came charging in with some wayback rock to close out the show with a bit of dancing and the Ukey crew demonstrated one Hell of a commitment to having a good time. All in all, the weekend was one big ball of yup.
Thanks again for having us out Salt Spring, you showed how it's done and blew us away with your warmth and hospitality. We'll be seeing you again. All the feels!