As the October rolls around it is time to roll out the barrels… of fun! There are few functions we find more fantastic than a fabulous fall festival.
Over the years we have frequently found ourselves in the midst of many of these autumnal classics, usually by accidentally stumbling upon them in our travels. Other times because we did our research and used our points.
However we discovered them, here are five of our favorites, plus a perfect bonus celebration… the Pumpkin Fest!
Most likely the first thing that jumps to mind when we mention October and festival is the German tradition of beer-based festivities. The Hunter Mountain Oktoberfest in New York certainly is worthy of the name.
Hunter is a ski resort, so for a fantastic view of the fall foliage we started the day with a ride on the Kaatskill Flyer chairlift. The top of the mountain can get a little chilly this time of year high in the Catskills, so we were sure glad that we stuffed an extra layer of warm clothes into our trusty backpacks.
But beyond the scenic setting, the authentic food, music, and dancing had us believing we might be in Bavaria while the keg rolling, krug carrying, and the masskrugstemmen, which means beer-stein holding, contests kept us cracking up while we competed.
Speaking of competitions, the Annual Arkansas Bean Fest and Great Championship Outhouse Races could be the best of the bunch. You might say it’s a gas!
The festivities, as with every gathering in Mountain View, begin with live bluegrass and folk music. No wonder Mountain View is known as “The Folk Music Capital of The World.”
Then the events kick off with the Beanie Weenie Dog Show while the cooks set up their giant pots for the main event. Each cauldron is filled with water and fifty pounds of dry pinto beans to soak, then at the crack of dawn Saturday morning fires are lit under the pots and the cooking commences.
After the beans are served it’s off to the races. These aren’t your average outhouses, oh no, these are high performance porta-potties.
For a different kettle of fish, we found a fascinating annual phenomenon In the Seattle suburb of Issaquah. Each autumn thousands of salmon fight their way through the town in Issaquah Creek in an unstoppable trek to the hatchery where they were born. This event spawned the beloved Salmon Fest.
For over forty years, hundreds of thousands of people have come to celebrate the return of the salmon. Five stages scattered throughout downtown feature music, while we humans satisfy our urges through feeding frenzies at the food vendors.
Sheep & Wool
Another event that has been going strong for more than four decades is the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. Each year the Dutchess County Sheep & Wool Growers’ Association throws this baaaa-sh in October.
Folks come from all across the Hudson Valley to witness sheep shearing, yarn spinning, and parades of llamas, alpacas, and cashmere goats.
But for us it was the dogs that stole the show. While the canine frisbee demonstrations were impressive, we couldn’t get enough of the border collies doing what they do best, even better than catching plastic discs, herding. We couldn’t help but think of the movie Babe.
While crabs might not be the first thing we think of at this time of year, the Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival in Port Angeles had us rethinking that. On the northern coast of Washington, this is definitely the place to be for any decapod chowing seafood lover.
We tried our hands at crabbing in the Grab-A-Crab Derby, and were rewarded with the steamed outcome of our catch. For those who don’t want to fish for their supper there is also “The Famous Crab Feed” where a whole Dungeness Crab is served up with corn, coleslaw, music and beer.
Lastly, but certainly not least, for the ultimate October celebration we went to the source, North Central Illinois, and the Annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival. Eighty percent of those big orange squash come from this area.
We kicked off the merriment down to the courthouse for the Lions Club Giant Pumpkin weigh-in. Here the giants are measured and judged, as are the thousands of Jack-o’-lanterns that adorn the lawn.
Later we joined in the Pie Eating Contest and then ghost stories at the cemetery. The weekend culminates with the big Pumpkin Festival Parade.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
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