Ruby Ann Boxcar is one of the bonafide stars of this year's Denver County Fair, which runs tomorrow through Sunday. Hailed as the Dame Edna of the Trailer Park, Boxcar is a performer, speaker, and the author of numerous cookbooks that celebrate the art of frugal, second-hand living. A big personality with hair to match, Boxcar will share some of her white-trash wisdom with fairgoers during several workshops and activities that explore everything from gastronomy to cheap-and-green crafting. We asked Boxcar, who visits Denver by way of her hometown of Panbgurm, Arkansas, to give us a taste of what she's cooking up this weekend.
Westword: You will be leading a workshop called "Tempting Trailer Treasures: Craftin' with a Conscious." What are the fundamentals of creating guilt-free goodies? Ruby Ann Boxcar: I've found there are only two rules to guilt-free craftin': 1. Recycle. Us trailer-park folks have been doin' this since the first time somebody thought to put wheels on a house. We recycle everything that we might be able to reuse again, from plastic containers that food items come in to other people ex-spouses. 2. If you can make it, you ain't got to buy it, which means you got extra cash for them Pay-Per-View roller derby shows.
Your workshop "Cut-Off Cooking: Meals You Can Make with no Electricity or Gas" will give folks ideas about how to keep their bellies full when the power gets shut off. How did you first learn this skill?
Growin' up in a trailer all my life, this type of food preparin' became more of a natural trait than an actual skill. You get a little breeze outside, and your power could go! You get some neighbor's devil kids with time on their hands and a hammer, and your power could go! You find a sale on plus size women's apparel at the thrift store, and your power could go...until you come up with enough money for your electric bill!
You seem like someone who would be good to know if, in fact, the apocalypse does come. You're handy, frugal and fun. What do you think is the most likely doomsday scenario -- zombies, solar flare, aliens, Rapture?
I've always felt that one person's doomsday could be another person's rapture. By that I mean if there's only one box of Little Debbie Snack Cakes left at the store, and you try to reach for 'em first, it's gonna be your doomsday. Then while I'm enjoyin' 'em with a gallon of milk, it'll be my rapture. But I think most folks would tell you that as long as you bring your own food and bingo money, I can be a good fun gal to have around, especially in a trailer durin' high winds.
You will be leading a cake walk. What are some safety tips for cake walkers?
When it comes to cake and competition, there ain't no safety tips. It's a dog-eat-dog event that folks like myself have trained for all our lives. Luckily for those involved durin' the ones I'm leadin', I won't be actively participatin', so it won't be as dangerous, but I'd still make sure all walkers have taken out insurance and got a will. But I will give you and your readers a tip that I've come to personally rely on when it comes to winnin' a calk walk: Stun gun!
What most excites you about the Denver County Fair?
My normal answer would be "fair food," but this year, I'm beyond excited to be able to use the words "indoor" and "fair food" together! And of course, as the jetsetter that I am, bein' able to say "Hickenlooper" without havin' it immediately followed by a polite "gesundheit" will be nice, as well.
The Denver County Fair runs August 10-12 at the National Western Complex.
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Visit www.denvercountyfair.org for the full schedule.