Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sucker Day


I’ve never visited the town of Wetumka in Oklahoma (USA). But I understand the folks there celebrate a day every year when they laugh at themselves. They call it Sucker Day and they plan a town festival on the last Saturday of September to commemorate it.

It all started in 1950 when a man calling himself F. Bam Morrison arrived in Wetumka and persuaded local residents to put up the money to bring a circus to town. They did not know F. Bam, but he was a nice enough fellow and they trusted his word.

Merchants bought plenty of food, beverages, and souvenirs in preparation for the crowds of people who were bound to attend. And Morrison sold advance tickets. The townspeople were ecstatic at the thought of a circus in their very own village. Children could hardly sleep at night.

On the day the circus parade was to march down the main street, ecstasy turned into dismay when nothing happened. F. Bam had slipped quietly away in the night with any money he had left. There would be no circus. The good folks of Wetumka had been swindled.

It didn’t take long for their disappointment to turn into amusement, however. Someone came up with the idea of holding a four-day celebration anyway. And why not? They had all the food and goodies. Calendars were cleared and, besides, everyone’s heart was set on having a good time.

They called their party The Sucker Festival. In a display of good-natured fun, people celebrated the fact that they’d been conned, snookered and hornswoggled. And now Sucker Day is an annual event Wetumka – a good excuse to come together, to laugh and to have some fun.

We’re going to be fooled sometimes. Especially if we easily place our confidence in people. But I’m not going to give up trusting just to avoid being had.

I’ve observed that some of the happiest people I know are far from being the most wary – in fact, they are quite often open and trusting. These contented folks share at least two traits.

The first is that they are trustworthy. They are known to be honest and true to their word.

And the second trait these happy and satisfied people share is that they easily trust others. Sometimes their trust is misplaced, but they’ve discovered that the benefits of trusting usually outweigh the risks of disappointment.

I expect I’ll get taken in plenty of times yet by friends and strangers I believed in. But I hope the next time I trusted when I should have been more cautious, I can learn from the good folks of Wetumka and laugh at myself.

Because I’d rather let others into my heart than shut them out. I’d rather be a sucker for a day than unhappy for a lifetime. And I’d rather believe there is goodness in most people, for that is the only way to find it.

-- Steve Goodier

8 comments:

FrugalityOnline.com said...

Ya know, I'm not 'that' far from Wetumka, maybe a little over an hour. I'm making a plan to see all the stuff locally that I can! I just added the sucker festival to my calendar for September.

THANKS
Judy

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Steve. We need that spirit where I am just at the moment.

Patsy said...

I do remember Sucker Day. I wasn't there for the original Sucker Day but attended for several years. The town had bought a lot of hay for animals. They put hay in stacks and stuffed money in them. There was a haystack for the larger kids and one for the smaller kids. What fun! There was a greased pig race, climbing the flag pole, parades with every known float in it. Indians paraded with their native dress, school bands, sheriffs and their horses. It was really fun. One time, someone tossed money out of the top floor of the hotel (which housed the Rexall Drug store on the first floor that made the best frozen cokes you ever tasted. One year they tracked down Mr. Bam. Sucker Day had become such a big day that they wanted him to come as guest of honor. However, he could not attend; he was serving time in an Arkansas prison for fraud!! When a circus finally came to town, they stopped Sucker Day. After several years, they started it again; however, now it is mainly an arts and crafts festival. I can attest for a fact that Sucker Day was absolutely the most wonderful day for families - especially the kids!
Patsy

April said...

I have been to Sucker Day about 20 years ago when I was in college. My grandparents lived in Wetumpka, OK. I loved Sucker Day. I have only been to one, wish I could go again and take my children! My grandparents have now moved to Wetumpka, AL. They are older and need our help and we live in Montgomery and Wetumpka. They choose Wetumpka to help keep memories of Wetumpka, OK alive. Now the town in OK is on its way of dying out! Hopefully it will make a comeback. It is a great little town!! Wonderful memories there!

Patsy said...

One additional comment about Sucker Day. My husband reminded me about the man who suckered the people. The people were so excited about the circus coming and all the money they would make, they did not charge him for his room, he got free meals, and free dry cleaning!

Anonymous said...

Sucker Day was a really great celebration for a lot of years. For some reason, however, the old excitement died out several years ago and the folks that put the festival together just can't seem to rekindle it. I think the town needs some new blood, fresh ideas, and more community support to get it back to the way it was. If anyone has any good ideas and/or experience, I urge you to contact the Chamber of Commerce!

crystal said...

I JUST FINISHED WITH "SUCKER DAY" 2010. IT WAS MOVED TO THEIR NEWLY CHRISTENED PARK.
I'VE LIVED HERE SINCE 1999 AND I THINK THIS WAS THE BEST ONE EVER! IN FACT IT'S 11:16 P.M. AS I WRITE THIS, AND THE STREET DANCE AND MUSIC IS STILL GOING ON!
JIM RAYBURN SINGING AND PLAYING GUITAR WITH HIS BAND, "THE OVER THE HILL GANG" WAS THE FIRST BAND TO PLAY TODAY ~ VERY GOOD MUSIC, FOOD AND SOUVENIR BOOTHS, AND VARIOUS OTHER BANDS INCLUDING COUNTRY AND ROCK, ALSO A CAR SHOW.EVERYONE HAD A GREAT TIME!! :) WE HAD LOVELY WEATHER, PERFECT IN FACT! IT IS UP AND RUNNING AGAIN & WITH GUSTO!

Mighty Mouse said...

Patsy, Bolt's Drug Store sold frozen Cokes not the Rexall Drug Store. Bolt's also sold frozen Snicker bars.