Lots of smiles, mud, at Redneck ‘Blank’ festival

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HEBRON — They raced on sand wearing swim flippers and carrying two greased watermelons while the song “Watermelon Crawl” blared.

They bobbed for pigs’ feet.

Two teams played tug-of-war over a mud pond to Waylon Jennings “Good Ol’ Boys.”

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They rolled barrels around a course. Men raced carrying wives or girlfriends.

They drove their trucks, Jeeps and ATVs through the mud, covering the vehicle and, often, people.

The friendly crowd talked and laughed. Some drinking happened.

Saturday was the fifth annual Redneck “Blank” festival on Harold Brooks’ land. Many camp there for all three days.

An estimated 2,000 attended Saturday, Brooks said. The partiers often wore bathing suits (women) or no shirts (men) and many wore smiles.

Del Bean of Buxton was the mud man. Wearing long pants, a brimmed hat, a shirt, tie and jacket, he was covered with brown. “You’ve got to look your best,” Bean mused. His favorite part of the Redneck festival is the mud pit, “and everything,” he said. “It’s so much fun.”

Saturday was the first time Jennifer Allen, 20, of Starks, attended. “I’m leaving in three weeks for college,” she said. “I already had a Jeep. I go mudding on my own.”

She saw a Dodge go through the mud run. “I don’t like Dodges,” she said. She joined in and did well. Standing next to her mud-covered Wrangler, she said, “I stuck it in four-low and kept my foot on the gas.”

John Decoteau of Minot has been to every Redneck festival. He works security. “It’s awesome,” he said. “These people ride around on their buggies, drink a few beers and have a good time.”

Most behave, he said. He does have to tell some to slow down.

Organizer Harold Brooks said the prelude days are Thursday and Friday. Saturday is the big day.

“It’s going good,” he said Saturday. He started the Redneck party five years ago to provide a venue for people to “come out and have fun.”

The event is affordable, he said, $50 for a weekend pass, $25 a day. People can bring their own food and drinks or buy them there. “We have very few rules.”

The term “redneck” carries different meanings to different people. To him, a redneck is someone “who doesn’t think they’re better than everybody else, who works for their money.” He considers himself a redneck and he doesn’t drink or have disabled cars in his yard. A general contractor, “I work hard,” he said.

After a sudden rain storm which lasted about a half hour subsided Saturday, an ATV full of mud-covered riders pulled up.

“We’ve been playing in the mud, skinny-dipping in the creek, we’ve been doing it all! We’re rednecking, dear!” said Mitchell Raubeson of the television show “Down East Dickering.” With him were Heather Harvey of Oxford and Steve Goodwin of Massachusetts.

At the grandstand, the wife-carrying contest was getting underway. Men can carry women, “or the wives can carry the husbands,” the master of ceremonies announced. “Some of these girls are pretty rugged.”

No men were carried. The gold medal winners were Dylan Huff, 18, of Harmony, who carried Ashley Pepin, 17, of Auburn.

Alyssa Groleau, 27, of Lewiston, was rednecking as she does every year, but this year it was special. She came in memory of her father, Stan Groleau of Hartford, a retired electrician who died in October.

Her father was devoted to the festival, she said. He always got the same camping spot. He came early and left late. He loved talking to friends, old and new. He pulled pranks, like “redneck fishing,” Groleau said. “He’d put a dollar on the end of a fishing line, cast it out. When the drunks walked by, he would reel it in.”

The Redneck festival is more than about getting drunk, Groleau said. It’s about making friends and memories.”

The festival ends Saturday night. Sunday is cleanup and go-home day, Brooks said.

HEBRON — The Confederate battle flag may have been banned from NASCAR and the South Carolina Statehouse, but there were plenty displayed from trucks, all-terrain vehicles and campsites at the Redneck “Blank” festival Saturday.

The flag has been shunned since a white supremacist killed nine black people who were attending a church service in Charleston, S.C., in June. The killer posted pictures of himself posing with the Confederate flag.

Those displaying the flag in Hebron said to them the flag has nothing to do with racism or slavery.

“I think of it as rebellion,” said Jennifer Allen, who had the flag displayed on her Jeep. “No matter how many times you go down, I’ll keep coming back up. I think of it as ‘Dukes of Hazard’ rebel.”

The flag is a redneck symbol, she said. “I’m a redneck.” A redneck is someone who keeps fighting, who is independent and knows “duct tape fixes everything.”

A woman wearing a Confederate flag bikini said to her, the red, white and blue is about patriotism.

Redneck festival organizer Harold Brooks said the Confederate flag “is not a huge symbol for me,” but many like displaying it.

He isn’t offended. The Confederate flag “has nothing to do with racism,” Brooks said. “When I look at that flag, I see a symbol of rebellion.” On the dollar bills are pyramids built by slaves. “The $1 bill is a bigger symbol than the flag.”

John Lupo, who runs Holligan Designs, was selling Confederate flags at the festival Saturday.

Since it’s been taken down from the South Carolina Statehouse and banned at NASCAR, business has picked up, Lupo said. He can no longer buy Confederate flags in the United States. He has to buy them from suppliers in other countries.

The flag is not about racism, he said. “What the flag symbolizes is the Civil War, the Southern states fighting for their freedom from the federal government telling them what to do.”

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