Tuesday, August 26, 2014

6 Reasons Why I Love Hobo Days

I’m going to veer off the topic of social media for this post and talk about Hobo Days. For those of you who have never heard of this celebration let me inform you. Hobo Days is an annual celebration held the second weekend of August in Britt, Iowa (my hometown). It is officially called the National Hobo Convention and was started in 1900 and as far as I know the only hobo celebration in the world. Other than Hobo Day at South Dakota State University, which is where students dress as hobos for their homecoming celebration to try and scare the opposing team. Never really understood that one, but they've been doing it since 1912.

What is a hobo? 
A hobo is a migratory worker, some with a special skill or trade, others ready to work at any task, but always willing to work to make his way.

The tramp is a traveling non-worker, moving from town to town, but never willing to work for the handouts that he begs for. A bum is the lowest class, too lazy to roam around and never works.

How did Hobo Days start? 

Before I tell you how hobo days started I have to give you some background information about Tourists Union No. 63. In the mid 1800’s several hobos found they were being repeatedly kicked out of towns and off train yards because they had no visible means of employment or any money. Law enforcement was becoming stricter on enforcing vagrancy laws, and there was nothing to help the migrant hobo worker. However, if one was the member of a Union then the unemployed person would not be persecuted for vagrancy while in any city attempting to gain even a few hours of employment.

And so these few hobos drew up articles of confederation for a Tourist Union for any hobo nationwide to join and avoid persecution for vagrancy. Finding that the hobos present numbered to 63 this Union was labeled Tourist Union #63. In August of each year Tourist Union #63 held a National Hobo Convention to renew friendships, collect annual dues, sign up new members, and honor the most deserving of their union to the temporary positions for King and Queen. The convention moved to different cities each year to appease the workers, but in 1887 the members voted to hold the 1888 convention in Chicago and it stayed there for 12 years.

In 1889 three Britt men named Thomas Way, T.A. Potter, and W.E. Bradford read a report in the Chicago paper that Tourist Union No. 63 has just elected new officers. They wrote to Charles F. Noe of Sycamore, Illinois and invited him to bring the Hobo Convention to Britt. Their desire was to gain some attention for the small town to “do something different to show the world that Britt was a lively little town capable of doing anything that larger cities could do.” Noe wrote back and said he would come out to Britt and see if the grounds were large enough. He must have liked what he saw, because he agreed to hold the convention in Britt August 22nd, 1900.

Next, check out the 61 things this man learned at Hobo Days

6 Reasons Why I Love Hobo Days:

1. Hobo Days is unique. Like I said earlier, there is no other type of celebration like this in the entire world that I know of. Sometimes the residents of Britt tend to forget this. You hear people say, “there is nothing to do in Britt” or “why would anyone want to come to Britt for Hobo Days?” I absolutely hate when someone complains about Britt or Hobo Days, because in the end you’re bashing yourself. Why do people travel hundreds of miles to learn about the hobos? Because it’s interesting. It’s unique. It’s weird. It’s different. It’s no different than the world’s largest strawberry in Strawberry Point or the National Hollerin' Contest held in North Carolina. People love weird and Britt residents need to embrace it.

2. Hobo Days brings the community together. Whether you own a business on Main Street, have a float in the parade, or just walked uptown to see the crafts you were involved in Hobo Days somehow. I almost can’t describe it, but it’s the feeling of belonging to something bigger. It’s the feeling that our town can gather once a year and rally behind this celebration. We’re celebrating the hobos obviously, but at the same time we’re celebrating Britt. What this town has accomplished in the past year, how far we've come in the past 100 years, and how bright our future looks.

3. Hobo Days is humbling. Even though nowadays some people choose to live the hobo lifestyle; the idea of living free and traveling where ever the road will take you. It’s important to remember that the hobo lifestyle didn't start out that way. Hobos first appeared on the railroads after the Civil War in the 1860’s. Many discharged veterans returning home began hopping freight trains looking for work. The number of hobos dramatically increased during the Great Depression when people, who had no work, decided to start traveling to find work. It’s not that people wanted to live this way, they were forced to. It’s important to remember that today, with all our technology and money, life as we know it could come crashing down someday. I’m not saying people will be forced to travel on the train to look for work, but there is always a possibility.

4. Hobo Days is hard work. Believe it or not, the carnival and vendors don’t just randomly show up the 2nd weekend of every August because they feel like it. It’s from many hours of volunteered time that Hobo Days is able to exist. With the help of the Hobo Days Association and countless other people in the community Hobo Days had one of its greatest years to date this year. It’s important that we thank these people for their hard work to put on this great event, but it’s also important to thank the hobos. I know that sounds strange, but without them attending every year what would we celebrate? It also goes back to this great quote from Linda Hughes, the Hobo Foundation President, “We celebrate what the American hobo did for this country. They built railroad systems, they built the courthouses, they worked the fields, they did any kind of job they could find, and we honor them, and we celebrate that lifestyle.”

5. Hobo Days is Tradition. Families have a lot of traditions. For my family our traditions include eating Grandma’s apple crisp on Christmas Eve, boating in Clear Lake over the 4th, and being in Britt the second weekend in August. Other than Christmas, Hobo Days is the only time of year my family is able to regularly get together. Friday nights we walk uptown to check out the crafts, Saturday morning I ride through the parade with Miller & Sons. In the afternoon we eat, talk, and drink a few beers and then head uptown to see everyone that came home. Its tradition and I love it.

6. My Grandma is a Hobo! Yes, she really is. She never rode the rails in her younger days, but she was "knighted" as a hobo by the Hobo Queens. Hobo Days 2010 my Grandma Bettie and I attended the Hobo Ladies tea. The Hobo ladies host it for the women of Britt every year. This particular year  was special because the hobo ladies were hosting a contest. Whoever attended the tea with the most decorated walking stick would win a prize. Well, of course, my Grandma won. The prize turned out to be that the winner would become an official hobo. So all the past and present Hobo Queens gathered around her and knighted her a hobo with their walking sticks. It was all very similar to how they do it in Britain I assume. So that's how Boxcar Bettie was born.

So now you know. Now you know what Hobo Days is, why it's important, and why I love it. Thanks for reading!

Sources: http://www.hobo.com/home.html 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Twitter: The Sarcastic Step-Child Nobody Wants to Take to Family Gatherings

What is Twitter?

Many people understand Facebook, or at least they think they do. But nowadays businesses can’t just be on Facebook. They have to tweet, pin something to a board, and create a Google+ and LinkedIn pages. It’s overwhelming. So let’s start slow.

What the hell is twitter and how do I use it? Twitter is an online social networking site. When you post something on Twitter it is considered microblogging. Instead of calling it a post like on Facebook, on Twitter you call it a “tweet.” The biggest difference between Facebook and Twitter is the size of your posts. On Facebook people can babble on forever and ever about their cat, job, or mother-in-law. I read that the character limit on Facebook is 63,206. I have never tested it out, nor should anyone. On Twitter though you are limited to 140 characters, which is why most Moms or adults could never have Twitter, because even their texts are three pages long. I almost wish my Mom did have a Twitter account though, because if she tweeted half the things that came out of her mouth she would be famous.

Linda Johnson 10:46 a.m. on 8/5/14 “Just told my co-worker I was going to open a can of whoop ass on him, and he knows I will. #SwearWord #OtherSwearWord"

Which brings me to my first and biggest point about Twitter:

1. Twitter is like the sarcastic step-child nobody wants to take to family gatherings. Why? Because people say things on Twitter they would never say on Facebook or any other social media platform. I’m not really sure why either. Maybe because of the illusions that since less people have Twitter, no one important will see it. There is also this feeling that people judge you more on Facebook versus Twitter. People are more willing to post pictures of a new boyfriend/girlfriend or a somewhat embarrassing photo of them drunk. It’s almost as if Twitter allows people to relax and be themselves without judgment.
2. Twitter is funnier. Hands down, no doubt about it, tweets are funnier than Facebook posts. Once again, I have no idea why, but Twitter is funnier. I think it goes back to this feeling of no judgment and being able to be yourself. If you don’t believe me read 21 of the most hilarious tweets of all time.
3. Because Twitter is laid-back and funnier, so are the businesses. I’ll be honest, the only time I follow a business on Twitter is because they’re funny, local, or giving out deals.

What does hashtag mean? A hashtag is a word or an unspaced phrase prefixed with the number sign ("#"). Hashtags make it possible to group such messages, since one can search for the hashtag and get the set of messages that contain it. A hashtag is only connected to a specific medium and can therefore not be linked and connected to pictures or messages from different platforms (Meaning just because you hash tagged something on Twitter doesn’t mean it will show up on Facebook).

The biggest times when hashtags come into play are events. Anytime you have an event like the #SuperBowl, #Grammys, or even TV shows like #TheVoice you will see that hashtag. Events, TV shows, movies, music artists, and anybody semi famous wants you to hashtag their name. By doing this you’re helping that event or TV show measure how many people are talking about or tweeting about them. It’s similar to word of mouth, except now you can actual measure it and collect data. The hashtag phenomenon is becoming very popular. Hashtags were mentioned in 57% of all the Super Bowl ads this year.

Twitter has had its struggles though. As of now Twitter has 271 million users, but this is nothing compared to Facebook’s 1.3 billion. For some reason, Twitter just has a hard time motivating people to actively participate. It could be the layout, the misunderstandings of “tweeting”, or maybe people just don’t have anything to say. Whatever the case may be, you will find that users of Twitter are more likely to engage with a business on Twitter versus Facebook. They are more likely to mention, retweet, or favorite brands than they are on Facebook. Why is this? For one, it is easier. To engage with a business you don’t have to go to their page, write on their wall, and then wait for feedback. With Twitter you can just tweet about a good or bad experience and the business will see it (If your tweets aren’t private). And second, I think it goes back to that judgment I was talking about earlier. If someone complains about a business on Facebook everyone will weigh in and either joins their complaint or stand up for the business and complains about the person who posted it originally. It can become very catty. With Twitter the conversation is usually between the business and the customer.

Next time, I’ll discuss the proper ways to tweet to increase engagement and all that good stuff. As for now, sign up for Twitter and start tweeting! Have fun!