Friday evening was literate and loud at the 17th annual Saline Celtic Festival. With several instrumental and dance workshops still going on quietly, the Limerick Contest began with poems meeting its regulatory limits of “rude, a bit crude, or even a touch lewd,” adjudging works by city residents, county neighbors, and entrants from across the country.
The decisions were made by a highly literary trio of experts. Leslee Niethammer, the director of the Saline District Library; Nicola Rooney, proprietor of Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor’s premier independent book store; and amateur Celtic historian, longtime mayor of Saline, and founding Grand Chair of the Festival, Patrick Little, gave gravity and wisdom to the iambic deliberations.
The Master Class runners-up were John Dahlgren and Meadow Rose Snyder, both of Saline. The champion is Madeleine “MadKane” Kane, of Bayside, Queens, NY. Her “Limerick Ode to a Kilt-Wearing Man” was judged to have captured the refinements and the spirit of the art form the best:
A man who was very well built,
Was naked except for his kilt.
He was flouting the regs,
As he flaunted his legs,
And willed certain parts not to wilt.
In the Late Poets’ Society, the contestants who waited until the last minutes to submit their works, the best results were even more widespread. Ian Ferguson of Toledo and May Waggoner of Lafayette, LA, were the runners-up, while Ferguson also won the category with his Gaelic-tinged entry parodying Saturday’s headline musician, Eileen Ivers:
A beauty called Eileen Livers
Was known for nude bathing in rivers.
Ah remember those days
When she’d peel off her clais . . .
And, God, it still gives me the shivers.
The winners will receive prize packages filled with books from the Saline District Library, a book bag from the Saline Farmers Market, and financial support for the prizes from the Fellowship Baptist Church on Bemis Road. The awards also included a CD from the apparently dangerous musician who showed up in place of the evening’s featured Cajun performer, Beth Patterson. The Festival instead saw the Red Dragon stage dominated by a black leather clad, ill-intentioned woman called Bad Beth & Beyond.
Bad Beth cheerfully led the proceedings of the Mr. Pretty Legs in a Kilt contest, one which, she pointed out, completely objectified the men (wearing sheep masks along with their kilts) in the manly beauty contest. She often swung her whip for emphasis or to goad the contestants, and so was a definite improvement over the “bland blonde” hostess of the previous year, Beth Patterson, even though Bad Beth’s whipping was frequently off-tempo from the musical accompaniment provided by Road Kilt for the strutting studs on stage. Beth wore a rare smile when the cutest entrant, toddler Enzo Metcalf, grandson of Festival Performers' Chair Sheila Graziano, was brought onto the stage in a diaper-sized kilt.
Later in the evening, Bad Beth regaled her Pub Tent audience with various musical and parodical masterpieces, including an exceptionally erudite drinking song where she managed to incorporate the New Orleans phrase “Who Dat?” as an onomatopoetic element in vomiting. She ended her stint on stage with her fishnet-clad behind sitting down, telling edgy jokes to the crowd, testing them to see if they were forced to utter the "safe word," which she specified as "avocado." One fan soon said "guacamole," which pushed her down darker veins of humor, until another spectator uttered "avocado" and Bad Beth turned her wit a bit more toward puppies and kittens and rainbows in time for the Pub's last call.
(This story was submitted by Perry Plouff.)