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Fetes of Strength and Airing of Chiavettas - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Fetes of Strength and Airing of Chiavettas
Yes, summer is finally here in  Western New York. As recently as late last week, the heat was on in this house overnight, but we've switched to central air as of today fer sher, and I took my first late-afternoon post-mowing shower of the summer after working the front yard after 6 this evening.

Summer it is, despite Sol not officially Sticing for almost three more weeks. The biggest clues on the calendar, other than the temperature, are the sudden proliferation of the two local tailsmen of the season: Chiavettas, and lawn fetes. The former came home as part of dinner tonight; the latter is not part of our lives, but is definitely Out There for the rest of this sweet season.

Both involve Jesus. Let's discuss each in turn.


Chances are, if you're in Boston or Boise or Boola-Boola, your summer, like ours, is interspersed by chicken barbecues run by various churches, schools, fire halls and other worthy entities. While we wish you the best at them, we must sadly note that they are not Chiavettas. In these parts, this Top Rooster of the Poultry Circuit is the biggest name, and has even come close to becoming a verb among the local populace:

CHIAVETTA - barbecued chicken served at lawn fetes (see definition), named for the catering company that usually provides it. (sign ex.- "Our Lady of the Blessed Shroud Lawn Fete - Rides, Bands, Games, Chiavetta"). The word is quickly becoming a generic word for barbecued chicken - "Let's gota' Boston Chicken's and get some Chiavetta."

That website is over 15 years old now, and I have heard "chiavetting" used to describe the act of immersing oneself in The Experience. Around here, almost all of the Chiavettas barbecues are at houses of worship, and our church has held one of their barbecues for most, if not all, of our 19 early summers in this region.  The gig is always the same: their truck shows up in the early afternoon to begin grilling, a coop's worth of hennage unloading onto a grill space roughly the size of half our church lawn (which will bear the burned-grass stigmata of the event for the next several months); once the chickies are somewhere near "earth tones," church volunteers inevitably appear, to sell the dinners, add the home-baked desserts, wave signs at passing traffic, and generally contribute to the general aviacide.  The next day in church, the unsold portions get bagged and sold as yummy leftovers, minus the sides and desserts; I bought a three-pack of them, and they made up my lunch yesterday, and a major part of our dinner tonight, with the third leftover portion possibly heading to Rochester to feed the kids, a place where they've never  heard of Chiavettas even though Wegmans sells their barbecue sauce throughout the chain:

Is it just me, or do all three of those look like they're still alive and somehow plotting our deaths?


Chiavettas is ecumenical; in any given week, I'll see Methodists, Lutherans and even shuls joining our RC brethren in the sacramental slaying of the poultry. Lawn fetes, not so; these are unique to the Holy Mother Church, because of our Protestant sanctimony against the evils of the demon rum:

LAWN FETE - an outdoor carnival held at a Roman Catholic church, usually during the summer. (Protestant churches do not have lawn fetes, because there are very few of them in Buffalo and their congregations are much smaller than the massive Catholic patrishes.) See also CHIAVETTA.

Unspoken in that analysis is reference to the essential elements of lawn fetes (pronounced "fates") that Luther, Henry, Wesley and their descendants consider verboten: gambling and beer. You'll usually see signs for them on major roadways, especially in Buffalo's Southtowns, the temporary ones on wheels with the slid-in letters backlit for the week before the event:


"OLV" refers to the Catholic parish sponsoring the event; you are expected to know by osmosis where that is. "Beer tent" is rather self-explanatory. "Queen of Hearts" has nothing to do, at least directly, with the Blessed Virgin namesake of the parish, but refers to a game of chance sanctioned for fundraising by charities by the Great State of New York, and which is guided by an actual state regulation titled Guidelines For Operating The Search For The Queen of Hearts.   "Hit'n'Run" refers, not to the inevitable drunk-driving accidents after shutdown of the beer tent, but to a local party band famed for gigging at these events (and which proudly advertises its "Beer Tent Tour 2014"). "Games" can be anything from horseshoes to beer pong (I'm guessing on that last one, but since every other temperance commandment has been broken, why not?).

Sadly, due to our Methodist reformation, all of this except the band (and possibly some of the games) cannot be part of our own Chiavettas experience. We've never tried to push the ecclesiastical envelope to dip our Fete into the forbidden waters of gambling or strong drink. At the rate we're losing members, we may wind up with having to offer corn, barley and hops tents some year soon and see if Jesus can help connect the alcoholic dots for us.
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mac_arthur_park From: mac_arthur_park Date: June 3rd, 2014 02:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I loved this. It reminded me of the annual "Sausage Fests" (yes, really) held at my parish in college. The men would set up a hodge-podge of grills on the church lawn. One of the guys would visit his brother up in NYC every Memorial Day and bring back CASES of honest to goodness Italian sausage, both sweet and hot. Everyone made desserts and sides. There was an unspoken understanding that the church kitchen was the unofficial bar and a poker game would be scheduled after the wives took the sleepy kids home and the men stayed to break down the grills and clean up the mess.

That was one of the high points of summer for me. Espescially when I discovered I got free beer and to play poker if I helped clean up. ;)
ellettra From: ellettra Date: June 3rd, 2014 07:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't believe y'all are running your AC! I'm wearing a light sweater today. I'm ready for some warm sun.
liddle_oldman From: liddle_oldman Date: June 4th, 2014 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
To my great sorrow, here in Boston, I have never heard of this chicken-y source!
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