Saturday, September 6, 2008

Festivals Warm My Heart

There are many things I love about Fall. It is my favorite season, just barely edging out those first few warm weeks of Spring when you are going a little nutty from all of the cold weather. Officially, in my heart, Fall is mid-October. Yes, I know it starts at the end of September, but I never notice that crisp chilly air or changing leaves until mid-October, when my soul starts to sing...literally, it has some little ditty about Autumn that feels like it is going to burst out of me like a kid bursting through a pile of fallen leaves. Wow, how's that for an Autumn simile? My English major skillz have not failed me yet.

I love the turnover of clothes, from summer shorts to jeans and long-sleeves. I love that first day you feel like you may need a jacket, because it's a tad chilly. I love wanting a cup of coffee in the morning, not because I need the a.m. jolt, but because I'm cold and want to be warmed up from the inside out. I love seeing Abigail in new Fall duds, because nothing is quite as exhilarating as seeing your little precious toddler in an entirely new wardrobe. Even if they are 90% hand-me-downs from cousins and friends, you are a little jealous that every three months they get all new clothes and don't have to wear the same bunch from last year. And the last ten years. I love gearing up for the holidays. It's a fine don't want to jump into winter too soon, because in this neck of the woods, winter is LONG. But you start thinking about what your kid's Halloween costume will be, and then where Thanksgiving will be held, and my dad's fried turkey (it are heavenly), and how much fun December is.

But I'll slow that dance down, because we're gabbin' about Fall here.

Oh, and I love pumpkin ANYTHING. Pie, ice cream, bread, butter, Pumpkin Pie Crunch. This blog isn't really about PPC, and my friend Elizabeth at Little Woman, Big Family is more than ready to share all of our personal demon of addiction to Pumpkin Pie Crunch. So I won't go there.

Festivals, though, are really where my heart is in the Autumn months. I absolutely, wholeheartedly adore festivals. There is something about festivals and fall that together make an unstoppable duo. So, I will outline a few of my favorites.

1. The Greek Fest. This one is not "local" to us state-liners, but our fam attended Indianapolis' Greek Fest last night. We went a couple of years ago, as it is always the weekend nearest my brother's birthday. He and Adrienne invited us last time, for Jason's 30th birthday, and invited us last night to celebrate his 32nd. They have people in authentic Greek garb, doing authentic Greek dances, playing authentic Greek music. We ate, from anything I know of Greek food, authentic Greek food. Hummus, pita bread, dolmas, tzatziki sauce, gyros, lamb, some other stuff I don't know the name of, baklava and other varieties of perfect Greek pastries. Abigail danced in circles with the Greekest of the Greeks, and we had a wonderful time. The air was chilly and perfect last night. Opa!

2. Marshall Autumn Fest. This is our local little festival, and last year was our first one after moving here. I love this festival. It helps that we live a block and a half from the town square, so all of the yummiest foods are a short walk away, and we can hear the evening shows playing from the bandstand through our bedroom window. It's almost like the festival follows us home. Last year, I had a turkey leg, a ribeye sandwich, ice cream, lemon shake-up, and not all in one sitting. There is a parade on Saturday morning, and we get to line up our chairs in front of the church and wave to people we really know on almost every float. It is small town at it's finest.

3. The Honeybee Festival. I had to give this one a shout-out even though I haven't been to it in over ten years. The Honeybee Festival is in Paris, where I grew up, and is only about fifteen minutes up the road from where we live now. So I do hope to make it back at some point. It includes all of the yummy food goodness of the Autumn Fest, and has the parade, too. People used to say that the town actually released thousands of honeybees just for the festival. I believed that when I was little, but now I picture the entire town of Paris walking around with their Epi-pens in their pockets and purses, ready to fend off anaphylactic shock. I think the City of Paris would have been sued over medical bills right now if that were really the case. But the festival did bring out the little suckers, that's for sure.

4. The Covered Bridge Festival. This is the granddaddy of all festivals. It is the behemoth. The festival to stomp all others. It is a TEN-DAY long festival in Indiana, just north of Terre Haute. It is in three different tiny towns, Mansfield, Bridgeton, and Rockville, and it brings a cool million visitors every year. I worked with my dad at the Rockville festival for a couple of years a few years back. We worked for a guy who had a booth that made spiral-cut fried potatoes and pork rinds. It was really hard work, but who could complain when this was your full day...
Breakfast: Biscuits and gravy or cinnamon roll from one booth.
Mid-morning snack: Corn Fritters with honey butter or a fried potato.
Lunch: Cheddar Broccoli soup in a bread bowl or ham and beans with cornbread.
Afternoon snack: Pumpkin ice cream cone or pumpkin roll.
Dinner: Take home five turkey legs from the guy's booth next to ours. They were free because we bartered with our fried potatoes.
The food alone was worth working that festival, but getting paid about 100 bucks a day wasn't bad either. Plus, there were some guys from Ecuador behind us that had a booth that sold that reedy-flute music that they play and these cute fuzzy scarves. And I bartered....two fuzzy scarves for a turkey leg and a plate of potatoes. Not a bad deal.

As you can see, the food of the festivals is my main attraction. Whose isn't? But I love just going to them. Seeing the people. Seeing the people's dogs who are always along for the ride. Seeing the high school marching band in the parade. Seeing crafts that you never see in a store. Seeing celebrations of things, like honeybees or blueberries or pigs (yes, I went to the Tipton Pork Festival once, too), that you just don't see celebrated on a regular basis.

The countdown is on, my friends. Greek Fest down, at least three more to go.


debra said...

If you love festivals... you HAVE to make it to Evansville at some point for the West Side Nut Club's fall festival. It is the second largest street fair after... Mardis Gras (believe it or not). Talk about some good eats :) I really love trying new foods there and the rides and games and atmosphere is fantastic. If you wanted it not to be too busy... during the middle of a weekday is the best day to go. You can easily spend the whole time trying to figure out what to eat.

nickmal said...

Thaaaannk youuu Debra! I've got the dates penciled in on my calendar now...Oct 4-9.
Fall fests are the best!! I enjoy the people more than anything, but the food is right up there.
And for the fav is the Blues at the Crossroads -- this weekend on the downtown streets of Terre Haute. This year there are eighteen performers..Whoo

Anonymous said...

You are so right about fall. I think I may have said it before but just in case I haven't I LOVE it! I never thought about the clothes thing before-I want new too! Have a good one and praying for you and your hubby.