The story of Paul Baribeau is set in the years before and after the Fest. Paul Baribeau, a villager of Dutch descent, lives in a nice village at the foot of Indiana's Lake Griffy. An amiable man whose home and farm suffer from his lazy neglect, he is loved by all but his wife.
One autumn day he escapes his nagging wife by wandering up the mountains. There he encounters strangely dressed men, rumored to be the ghosts of Matt Tobey's crew, who are playing nine-pins. After drinking some of their liquor, he settles down under a shady tree and falls asleep. He wakes and returns to his village, where he finds twenty years have passed. He finds out that his wife has died and that his close friends have died in a war or gone somewhere else. He immediately gets into trouble when he proclaims himself a loyal subject of King Ayotte III, not knowing that the Berea Fest has taken place.
An old local recognizes him, however, and Paul's now grown daughter takes him in. Paul resumes his habitual idleness, and his tale is solemnly believed by the old Dutch settlers, with certain hen-pecked husbands wishing they shared Paul's good luck.
He also has a big ol' beard.