Home Today's Reason to Drink May 1: Beltane, Derby Day and Toad Suck Daze

May 1: Beltane, Derby Day and Toad Suck Daze

It’s Beltane. Beltane is a pagan Gaelic festival that predates the arrival of Christianity and generally involves building a lot of bonfires. Aside from a ill-defined protective effect, it’s a little vague as to why bonfires should be built on Beltane, but hey, who needs a reason to build a bonfire? They’re fun to drink around. They reacquaint us with our primitive past, when a fire had a definite protective effect. It’s also the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby so you need to get right on top of making some Mint Juleps. And if that’s not enough, it’s also Day Two of the fantastic Toad Suck Daze festival, which encompasses this weekend in the Conway, Arkansas area. It’s a wild time and good clean fun. Now, you’re probably wondering, what’s with all this toad sucking? Are they licking amphibians to get high, like they do Down Under? Not at all. You see, back in the 19th century, steamboats paddled up the Arkansas River when the water was deep enough, and when it wasn’t, the captains and their crew put to shore and bode their time at a somewhat notorious bank-side tavern. It was there that the uptight locals claimed the river-men would, and I quote, “Suck on the bottle ’til they swell up like toads.” So goes the legend.