Spammy Jammy, held every June at the Little Bar in Goodland, has something to do with Spam, pajamas, and warding off hurricanes. But it has more to do with an excuse for a party. After all, if you want to have a hurricane party, why wait for a hurricane?
Saturday night marked the 25th Annual Spammy Jammy, according to Little Bar co-owner and festival founder Ray Bozicnik, or perhaps the 26th; memories are a little fuzzy. After Sunday’s “Spamover” after-party, the Little Bar will close for the summer, said Bozicnik, and not reopen until October.
Revelers packed the restaurant, listening to live music by Kelly Halloran and Dan Signor, followed by the Raiford Starke Band, competing in toilet paper races, and admiring the Spam creations submitted for judging.
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. The philosophical and meteorological underpinnings of the event are thoroughly tongue in Spam-colored cheek.
There were dozens of contest entries, both Spam sculptures and food items featuring Spam, which were surprisingly tasty once one’s tastebuds had been sufficiently lubricated. Top honors went to John Aboud’s “Kentucky Spamgoo,” his own take on the classic burgoo, which included chicken and beef brisket along with the Spam, all smoked for 14 hours. A shoo-in for the (as yet unconstructed) Spam Cuisine Hall of Fame, Aboud was already a three-time grand champion Spam chef. Margi Fortune took second place for her “spicy hot” Spam creation, and third prize went to Chris Miller.
Sculpture entries included an orange-haired Donald Trump, and Kim Spamdashian proclaiming, “I sculpted my butt the natural way (by eating Spam). No implants here!” Jim Freeman and Sherri Morrison won first place for their “Spamsel” Adams homage “YoSpamite,” a mountain sculpted out of pork shoulder, with the famed photographer and his tripod-mounted view camera standing at the foot. Becky Cook’s “Spam-Marsh Mosquito” won second prize, and Tara O’Neill’s “Spamgipani,” with flowers, garden shears and glove all sculpted from Spam, won third place.
Over the years, sculptures have included Spammy Wynette proclaiming “Stand By Your Spam,” “Swine Flew,” a “Pink Spamingo,” “SpongeBob SpamPants,” and “Spammy the Cocker Spamial,” complete with a little pink “accident.”
Featured act Raiford Starke, the entertainer who took Florida’s state prisons for his name, has become a Spammy Jammy tradition along with his band, serving up sizzling hot southern rock. Somehow, they squeezed the four-piece ensemble into the tiny barroom, where one had to move carefully not to bang into a player’s guitar neck mid-song.
Opening with a cover of Dr. Hook’s “Cover of the Rolling Stone,” the band offered up tunes from Johnny Cash to the Allman Brothers and James Brown to trash-rock classic “Keep Your Hands to Yourself,” with both Starke and second lead guitarist Michael Bell – only Raiford calls him “Ape Face” – playing slide guitar using a beer bottle or mic stand as a slide, and Bell throwing in some lap steel.
The gaggle of golf carts parked in front of the Little Bar demonstrated this event was well-attended by the hometown Goodland folks, where the golf cart is the preferred mode of transportation, and the Marco Islanders and mainland residents who came left their city-slicker ways behind and got into the laidback, downhome, slightly bent spirit of the event. The atmosphere at Spammy Jammy seems miles away from the hard-charging, buttoned-down, businesslike face that Naples and Marco often present, with a hint of an artistic, counter-culture vibe. For anyone wondering what became of the Woodstock generation, the place to find them Saturday night was at the Little Bar, down the twisty, flood-prone road that separates Goodland from the real world.
With the Little Bar and Stan’s closed for the summer, and stone crab season over along with tourist season, Goodland is ready to indulge in a months-long nap, and hope that all that Spam really does keep hurricanes away.