Ole! Ole! Fiestaware Begins Today!

They make white, too. Don't even.

When I was about 7 or 8, I went to Brownie Day Camp, where we were split into countries and had to learn to make crafts, food, costumes and a performance in the culture of our country. I was put into Mexico and we made red felt bolero vests and sang, “Ole! Ole! Fiesta begins today!” while we did a Russian kick dance. I don’t think the Brownie troop leaders knew the difference between Mexico, Spain and the Soviet Union. The one just wanted to braid all of our hair.

But we must’ve worked on the song and dance the entire week, because I still have the song securely in the front row of my memory, waiting to be sent in. (“Put me in coach! I still know all the words!”)

Ole! Ole! Fiesta begins today!
Ole! Ole! We’ll dance and we’ll sing and play!
Ole! Ole! Fiesta begins today!
Ole! Ole! We’ll dance and we’ll sing and play!
Oh what fun it is to go dancing,
With a swing and a sway and a swirl!
Every day is as light as a feather.
Oh what fun to go ‘round in a whirl!

This song comes running out to the field every time I use my Fiestaware dishes, which are my main and only dishes and which I see and use an average of almost every minute of every day. So, yeah, I’m pretty good on knowing all the words to The Mexican Hat Dance Song: Harding Park Brownie Version.

I got sucked into the Fiestaware cult by my husband’s family, which had been making trips to West Virginia to visit the factory and the adjacent store. In the “seconds room” of the factory store, you can get perfectly good dishes for dirt cheap. And by dirt cheap I mean you have to wipe the dirt off of them first to make sure they don’t have a big white bubble on the edge or some other flaw which got them sent to the Island of Misfit Fiesta Dishes in the first place.

As long as you’re willing to wear a big white tube sock on one of your hands, you can walk around wiping dishes and putting them in your plastic crate. When you get up to the check-out, your total, for a big box of dishes, might be $30.

It’s crazy. The first time I went to the factory store I went nuts. My sisters-in-law, who had been there before, picked out a color palette and bought sets of beautifully coordinated dishes in complementary pastel colors.  I acted like I was a 6-year-old at the circus on a cotton candy high, and I bought 12 of everything in the pastels, the bold primary colors, the traditional colors, and the tropical colors, including two different shades of orange.

So many colors! I started to fantasize about putting on theme dinners:  I could buy sets of the Pearl Gray and Scarlet and do an Ohio State dinner. I could buy Tangerine, Plum and Black for Halloween. I could get all the shades of blue and green and do an Under the Sea dinner party. What I ended up with was not enough of any color to do a theme, but a mishmash of everything. So every meal at my house is a Paint Store Explosion theme.

I think I’ve been to the Fiesta factory about four times now. Our drive down to Newell, West Virginia, became a regular part of our annual summer trips to Ohio. I watched the Fiestaware factory store shoppers go from people like me and my family to serious E-Bay moguls who walk around with their tube-sock paws, snatching up all the good stuff with an Eagle eye.

Lucky for the rest of us, there’s plenty to go around.  Can’t find a good lid to go with that Lemongrass sugar bowl? Here’s one in Cobalt Blue. It doesn’t match, but nothing matches in my kitchen, so give it here; I’ll take it.

I do try to make an effort, though. I avoid giving the pink plate to the guys. I leave the Shamrock plate on the bottom of the pile, because nothing looks appetizing on that. My husband prefers to eat food off of a dark plate (“for contrast”) and everyone wants the red plate. I try to assign it to whoever needs to feel special that day.

Other than that, setting the table is easy and fun. And there’s music.

Ole! Ole! Fiesta begins today!

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