Peggy Kiefer

What a week this California girl has had. I knew there was going to be a little culture shock to get over when I moved to Grove America, but …

Last Friday evening while people were driving home from work or coming to the lake a car misjudged a truck towing a horse trailer on Highway 59 and the truck hit her when she attempted to make a left, thus creating a traffic jam at Tom Cat Corner. What was amazing to me was how many drivers refused to follow the directions of the firefighters who were trying to direct traffic away from the accident.

Come on people! If you see a three-car accident, an ambulance, two state troopers, a county sheriff car, a city police car and four fire trucks, don’t you think you can go the half a mile or so out of the way to make sure that everyone is safe and that you are out of the way?

I counted 14 cars that refused to listen to the firefighters, who were not only wearing bunker gear or uniforms, but also had on green vests while they were attempting to direct traffic. Then a semi came flying down the road, not even slowing down.

According to Grove Police Chief Mark Morris, there are statutes in place for failure to obey an official driving traffic. “What a driver might not realize is they could be driving into serious situation. Not only can it be dangerous but drivers can also be ticketed,” he said.

Next time you drive by an scene such as this, try to remember that emergency responders are there for a reason. Responders are trying to help someone and/or protect the public. They aren’t trying to inconvenience you.

That was the beginning of my weekend. The next day, Saturday, I went to two grass fires, a Junior Rodeo at the Flying Cow Arena, then on to my great giggin’ adventure. I say giggin’ because Kim Self told me in Oklahoma you don’t say gigging you say giggin’.

I was warned by many (thank you Grove Fire) not to go by myself to cover this traditional Lake Eucha event. I even took the time to call the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office to verify that they would be there and I would be ok. The officer that answered the phone informed me that I would be fine, he was there the night before and yes there would be officers there.

As I drive down the lake road I turn into a clearing with hundreds of cars and people. Not just fishermen, but all types and all ages of people. I drive around and find a parking spot right next to a Sheriff’s car. At this point I am thinking “Ok, I can handle this.”

I get out and find the organizers selling T-shirts. I am then told to get the best pictures I should go out on that island, he points to an island where organizers will be to shoot the flare gun to start the competition. And then I am put into the care of the guy ferrying people over to this island with many names. At one point it was Crown Island and then became Silcone Island just to mention a couple of the names.

I was told all kinds of stories of Giggin Tournaments passed by Steve Wilson who competed for 32 years and won it nine years. He retired last year but those around us said he’ll be back. “Just like Brett Farve,” they said. “He’ll be back.”

“It was hard last night,” Wilson said about watching the tournament instead of competing.. He claimed he retired because he is getting old. Wilson was put in charge of the flare gun.

“A lot of us got together in 1973 and started this. It was mainly because the state wanted to shut us down. It was mainly to get people in this county down here to support gigging. We even went to Oklahoma City to support giging,” said Wilson.

“My grandfather used to gig, but they didn’t use boats,” he said.

“Money left over from entry fees and raffle ticket sales at the tournament are given to muscular dystrophy. The tournament is organized by Green Country Giggers Assocation” said Jay Price.

It’s nice to know that all those poor fish were speared for a good cause.

I’m not going to mention any other names, but just because I am from California, doesn’t mean I don’t know what it means to be nominated as “Giggin Queen” and no, I don’t want that honor thank you very much. And yes I heard that you were “going to get in the paper one way or another” but looks like that isn’t going to happen either.

I would love to tell you who won but I’m still waiting for those results. I did get a lot of pictures.

And for those of you who asked me to take my shirt off, well you know the answer to that. Thanks for the good stories though. My friends and family have really enjoyed them.