Monday, September 26, 2011

the fall festival circuit

It's finally Fall festival time.
I went to my first Fall festival 9 years ago. At least, that was the first fall festival that I remember. It seems that they should be part of my childhood memories growing up around here, but I'm not sure that I ever got to one before I was a grownup.
Joey and I had just graduated from college, and we had recently migrated to the Berkshires to be nearer to my family. We were 23, and I was pregnant. It was one of those in-between times--we were living at my parents, planning our wedding, and trying to figure out where we would live and what our life would look like. We took my sister Maia to the Apple Squeeze festival in Lenox, and Joey walked through the sidewalks lined with cider donuts and crafts of varied quality with wide eyes. Maia was four, still small enough that we could play family and try out the feel of parenthood. The next weekend was the Harvest Festival at Berkshire Botanical gardens, and the weather was in cahoots with the perfect bratwurst and the fantastic book sale. They all worked together, somewhere in the midst of that sparkly day, Joey said that he thought we should just stick around and move to the Berkshires for good.

A year later, we were at the Apple Squeeze again, this time with new friends. We had all met in birth class the previous winter, and one late pregnancy double date (greasy Chinese food works!) set off both of our labors in April. Sadie and Willow were born 12 hours apart, and at that point, sitting at the table on the sidewalk drinking cider, we could only fantasize about the girl's future together. Meagan and Todd were thinking about moving to Tennessee to start a Montessori school, and we were trying to keep our heartbreak quiet. But that day, while the girls played in our laps, they said that they were thinking they might actually stay here and start a school, crazy as it all sounded.

Yesterday, those girls ran around the Apple Squeeze festival, their little sisters running behind them, totally independent. I sat in the Montessori School information booth at the festival with Joey, and he talked about how new the school was--only in its sixth year.

I love these festivals most, because for me, they mark the passage of the time. More than any holiday, they are fixed in the girls memories, and they know everything they have eaten or made at every festival. We always eat too many sweets, and we come home exhausted. But these festivals always make us so happy to be here, and to be here right now.

 This weekend, we packed it in. Saturday, we went to the Harvest Festival at Hancock Shaker Village.  A friend had asked me if I would be willing to judge the food vendor competition, and I was excited to get to this festival for the first time. It was Apple Squeeze weekend too, but really- that's what we have a 2 day weekend for, right?

I wandered through the vendors, sampling shortbread and smelling lavender sachets. And Joey and the girls stayed put in the food tent, following along with the pie contest.

Each pie went to the judges first, and then slices went out for 2 bucks a pop. Joey bought every kind he could get to, and the girls sat like baby birds in the nest, waiting for bites.

They all agreed the apple was the best, and in the end, it won.

Next week is the Harvest Festival at the Botanical gardens.  That one is pony rides, and music, and pumpkins, and more bratwurst. I admit that I love it the most. But all through these weeks there are Fall Festivals all over this part of the world, and so I thought I might compile something of a list. If the Fall Festival is new to you, it is so worth your weekend. They take all different forms, but there is always cider, and people playing music, and the air tends to smell especially fantastic. I'll list a few that I know about here, but if you've got one where you are, pipe in and let us know.

October 1, 2
The Harvest Festival, Berkshire Botanical Gardens, Stockbridge, MA
North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival, Orange, MA
Conway Festival of the Hills, Conway, MA
Stone Barns Harvest Fest, Pocantico Hills, NY

October 8, 9
Ashfield Fall Festival, Ashfield, MA
Hawthorne Valley Fall Festival (just October 9), Ghent, NY

October 15, 16
Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival, Rhinebeck, NY


  1. Ooo, likes like a great day. I'll be at both the Garlic Arts and Rhinebeck this year. I could almost wish it was Autumn all year long :)

  2. LOVE!!!! (especially the baby bird reference!)

  3. What a feast! See in line for lamb soup at the Sheep and Wool Fair. xoxo S

  4. First thing I noticed was your first picture with the round barn in it! You DO NOT see those anymore.