The whole Indian Summer experience turned out to be one of those rare moments in life when God aligns the stars just right and we as mere humans stand in amazement at His divine orchestration. The beautiful lakeside Henry Maier Festival Park and absolute perfect weather, combined with the many reflections of Native culture and stirring Brulé music brought a true sense of God’s handiwork as the festival unfolded.
I couldn't have asked for more in the way of a book launch. On one side stood Joaquin with his brand new book Michigan and Rookie: Guardians of the Night, and on the other side was Paul LaRoche and his biography Hidden Heritage: The Story of Paul LaRoche. It’s humbling as a writer to think the God of our great universe chose me to write Paul's and Joaquin's stories, which in turn led to this amazing intersection of people, stories, faith, and culture.
|Joaquin, Barbara, Paul|
Many of North America’s tribal nations were represented throughout the three-day event, from the nearby Ojibwe tribes of Minnesota and Wisconsin to the Aztec people of Indigenous Mexico.
Because of Brulé’s popularity our booth was located inside the main entrance, making us easy to spot. :)
Besides the steady stream of newcomers that we visited with, my niece Lisa, her husband Arlo and daughter Tammy, along with another niece Babette from Wisconsin drove over to say hello. We don’t get to see each too often, so it meant a lot to have them make the trip.
|Lisa, "Auntie" Barbara, Babette|
Also, daughter Karli’s boyfriend Cameron’s parents, Wes and Sue, drove down from Fond Du Lac to meet us for the first time. It ended up that they enjoyed the festival so much they decided to stay for the Brulé concert.
|You'll never guess which stage Brule' played...|
..how'd you ever guess-- Miller Stage!!!
And like the thousands of fans who showed up to see Brulé, they weren’t disappointed. Somewhere between 2,500 and 5,000 showed up for Saturday night’s show alone…and judging by the crowd’s contagious enthusiasm, no one walked away disappointed.
|Paul LaRoche, founder of Brule'/AIRO|
One lady couldn’t wait to begin reading Michigan & Rookie: Guardians of the Night and took a seat right behind our vendor tent...
Having fun with the Brulé gang...
|Stacey hard at work while Judi and Kim goof off |
|Judi promoting the books|
|Kathy, Paul, Vlasis|
John and Rookie sharing a hot-fudge sundae…
Moonrise over Lake Michigan…
Joaquin's parents, Jim and Lupe, enjoying a nice breeze off the lake…
Meeting lots of new people...
9/11 Honor Parade with veterans, first responders, and Joaquin and Rookie…
One of the most poignant moments of the whole festival happened on Saturday evening. Just like the previous night, many people were drawn to Rookie’s powerful presence and asked to pet him or have their picture taken with him. As a working service dog Joaquin always has to be careful in big crowds, making sure people approach Rookie only one or two at a time.
One woman asked Joaquin to have her picture taken with Rookie. It was apparent she had some physical limitations, yet she knelt down beside Rookie, ready to pose right next to this K9 hero. As her friend held up the camera to snap the picture, she reached up and removed her ball cap, exposing her nearly bald head. At the very same instant Rookie raised his face toward hers, gently “kissing” her cheek in soft, tender licks.
Joaquin later confided that Rookie never does that, but he had somehow sensed the woman’s illness and vulnerability. In an unscripted display of affection, Rookie touched the hearts of us all.
Of course all good things must come to an end and by Sunday evening it was time to close up shop. On behalf of our crew (John, Jim, Lupe, Rookie, and Lakota) a great big THANK YOU! goes out to Paul and Kathy for inviting Joaquin and I to join up with them at Indian Summer. Without a doubt, the book launch was an experience we'll never forget.