GOODLAND — It really is a little bar. Although the public areas of the Little Bar in Goodland stretch through several dining areas and out to the patio, the barroom itself is tiny, and that’s where the action is when the band starts playing.
The band played all night Saturday, for this year’s edition of Spammy Jammy, the quintessentially Goodland festival that marks the summer closing of the Little Bar, and supposedly keeps Southwest Florida safe from storms.
The theory, if you can call it that, is that showing up at the Little Bar in pajamas, sculpting and consuming Spam, and imbibing alcohol in generous quantities will appease the gods specifically Laka Ulaulekeaha La’amaoma’a, sister of Pele, goddess of the volcano and keep the area safe from nature’s wrath in the form of hurricanes.
Saturday evening marked, perhaps, the 20th or 21st Spammy Jammy, although Ray Bozicnik, Mayor of Spamtown, co-owner of the Little Bar and Spammander in Chief, isn’t exactly sure how many times this makes.
“You expect me to keep track?” he asked rhetorically, while looking over the Spam contest entries, clad in an open, iridescent blue bathrobe that showed off his six-pack abs, somewhere under the keg, and a top hat that looked as though it had been discarded by a chimney sweep as just not presentable any more. Bozicnik did have other things to occupy his mind, and hands, as wellwishers greeted him and ladies came up to bestow smooches on him.
Ray’s sister and co-owner Nikki Bauer wore a basic black negligee, and Ray’s wife Amy was regal in a red satin bustier as she escorted her mother in to view the Spam sculptures and culinary entries. These included, on the artistic side, Miss Spam USA, which allowed participants to put their face behind the sash and the shells that discreetly covered the “spammary” glands, “Super Spam, the Man of Steel,” and the blue “Spammerhead” shark that eventually won the nod from the judges. The topical “ripped from the headlines” and Hollywood entries featured “Abraspam Lincoln,” a “It’s Huge-Jah” TV commercial tribute, and Paula Deen’s blackened Spam with black beans and “homade blue cheese sauce.”
Other theoretically edible concoctions included “smamakopita,” and Goodland native Celeste Navara’s Thai Spam meatballs with coconut milk, rice and cilantro, dipped in egg white and coated with panko bread crumbs. They qualify as health food, because they’re made with Lite Spam. Last year’s culinary winners Joe Shannon and John Aboud created “El Spamo Caliente con Queso” for this year’s entry.
The craziness spilled out into the parking lot, where expectant mother Dana Fisher got her tummy painted with a (pot-bellied?) pig for the occasion. She’s due to have a girl, who will be named, she said, Spamantha.
If the bar weren’t crowded already, the previously three-piece Raiford Starke Band, the headline act, was augmented to five musicians, with lead guitarist Jeff Shawde and drummer Diane Ward joining frontman Raiford Starke those are the names of two Florida state penitentiaries, right? and bassist Stevie Grandmaison, along with, just for the evening, Marco favorite JRobert filling in and killing it on the fiddle.
But packed as the room was, it was possible at times, through negotiation, timing and a certain amount of body contact, to move across the room, which means the crowd was down from the last couple of years. And several Spammy-goers remarked the number of contest entries was down, as well. So make sure your hurricane preparations are in place, just in case.