Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fall Calendar

Hoooo, doggies, it’s time to get out your calendar and make note of all the nifty things you want to do this autumn.

Here in Missouri, when the hot, sweaty summer starts to ease off into the drier, cooler days of fall, we all feel like rejoicing. It’s the traditional harvest time. It’s less buggy. And in addition to the changing leaves and the pretty purple asters, fruits and berries of all types color the trees, shrubs, and vines.

To help you figure out what to do this fall, here are some of my picks. Links are provided where available.

If you think I’ve left anything out, it was because I don’t recommend it as highly as these—or else I have simply forgotten it!

Sept. 7–13: Tour of Missouri, various locations
If you’ve never seen professional stage-race cyclists, I encourage you to watch some of this. This race is basically like a mini Tour de France, here in the Show-Me State. Once you see what these guys can do, you’ll start to understand why the Europeans get so excited when the Tour goes through their town, or why they take off of work to have a picnic and watch the racers go by. This year we get to see world-class cyclists George Hincapie (for years Lance Armstrong's "lieutenant," as it were), Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vandevelde, David Zabriskie, Mark Cavendish (the world's best sprinter), Thor Hushovd, Heinrich Haussler, and many more who are household names in Europe and who deserve greater recognition in the U.S.

Additionally, attending race events is a great opportunity to tour the state. When in Chillicothe, visit the "home of sliced bread" plaque and get some great BBQ at the old Wabash train station; when in St. James, by all means, head out to the winery. Or simply find a pretty spot along the route, have a picnic, and watch the race (and its amazing armada of support vehicles) zoom by.

Sept. 12: Mill Fest, Bonnots Mill, Mo.
Sponsored by this small town’s Community Betterment Association, this festival features a parade, poker run, pork steak, brats, baked beans, a quilt show in the old schoolhouse, official Bonnots Mill wines, arts and crafts booths, a pie auction, plus a street dance, music, and clogging. Also, if you’ve ever wanted to see inside the historic Dauphine Hotel, they’re leading tours from 1 to 6. Last year, by the way, was this community’s bicentennial. If you haven’t seen Bonnots Mill, you should go.

Sept. 19: Ozark Ham and Turkey Festival, California, Mo.
This is the 19th year for this festival, which highlights two of California’s major businesses (we are partial to Burgers’ Sausage—yum, yum, yum, yum). Live entertainment, food and craft booths galore, car show, antique tractors, diaper derby, washer tournament, poker run, barbecue contest, horse show, ham breakfast, and one of the world’s largest submarine sandwiches.

Sept. 23–26: Black Walnut Festival, Stockton, Mo.
Pies. Music. Terrapin races. Bluegrass. Pancakes. Crafts. Pet parade. The “First Annual Nut Run.” Baby contest. Queen contest (yes: there’s a Nut Queen). This is the 49th annual Black Walnut Festival, so they must know what they’re doing. Stockton is the home of Hammons Products Company, which I think is the world’s largest producer of black walnuts: Yummy, yummy black walnuts. This is the place to get black walnut products ranging from all types of baked goods to b.w. peach preserves to b.w. fudge to b.w. pancake mix to b.w. . . . nuts.

Sept. 23–27: Hermann Victory Celebration, Hermann, Mo.
Goodness, has it only been two thousand years since the Germanic warrior Hermann defeated three Roman legions in the Teutoburg Forest and stopped Roman expansion, changing the course of history? To mark the event, the town of Hermann commissioned a bronze statue of its namesake, and this celebration features its official dedication. . . . Plus lectures, a youth-orchestra concert from Hermann’s German sister city, a banquet, oompah music, winery tours, a Volksmarch, a BBQ and brats contest, and much more.

Sept. 26: Oktoberfest, sponsored by the Old Munichburg Association, Jefferson City, Mo.
German-themed entertainment and food, a beer garden, lots of vendors, a grape stomp, a car show, a wiener dog derby and costume contest . . . and this year there will be a strongman who performs feats of “teethlifting, bar bending, and car pulling.” The Old Munichburg Association is the group that promotes and works to improve the historic “Germantown” neighborhood of the capital city. (That I live in.)

Sept. 27: Our Lady of Help Parish Fall Supper, Frankenstein, Mo.
This is another church supper we like to attend—we think their homemade country sausage is tops, plus the church and its grounds are incredibly scenic, and the cemetery has some really old German tombstones in it. The drive to Frankenstein is pleasant, too. And anyway, don’t you want to be able to brag to your friends you “visited Frankenstein”?

1st Four Weekends in Oct.: Oktoberfest, Hermann, Mo.
Hermann is probably the best-known of all of Missouri’s German communities, and Hermann’s several wineries produce excellent, award-winning wines. Events happen throughout the town, but particularly at the wineries. (And the new brewpub!)

Oct. 10: Oktoberfest and Prairie Day, Cole Camp, Mo.
Cole Camp is another lovely, historic German town in mid-Missouri. Brats, kraut, crafts, antique bicycles, shopping, entertainment, etc. Cole Camp is very picturesque, and if you’re like me (and you’ve got “sauerkraut in the blood”), you should check this out. Simultaneously, the Mo. Prairie Foundation and Audubon Society are having meetings, talks, and prairie tours (bus shuttles will be available). Ethnic festival + natural history: What a great time!

Oct. 10–11: Heritage Craft Festival, Arrow Rock, Mo.
Loads of people, in costume, demonstrating and selling eighteenth-century arts and crafts, on the main street of a town changed surprisingly little since westering pioneers knew this area as the last outpost of civilization. This is the 41st year for the annual craft festival, and by now it and the village are ranked among the best heritage events/destinations in the nation. While there, you can see the A.R. State Historic Site (all over the downtown) including the visitors’ center and museum that explains the town’s importance as the beginning of the Santa Fe Trail.

Oct. 11: St. Louis Parish Fall Festival, Bonnots Mill, Mo.
This is one of my favorites because of the scenic quality of Bonnots Mill, which sits in a little hollow of rather steep hillsides, bounded on the north by the Osage River, right before it joins the Missouri. The parish’s fellowship hall is on a high bluff among hickory and oak trees, and the view of the river is mighty. And the food is good. And they usually have good, local musicians playing, too. You just cannot get this in any big city.

Oct. 17: Missouri Chestnut Roast, New Franklin, Mo.
Held by the University of Mo. Center for Agroforestry, this event lets you taste chestnuts, pecans, and black walnuts as well as other Missouri foods, such as mushrooms, goat cheese, honey, preserves, Missouri wines and beers . . . that kinda stuff. Plus there’s the historic 1819 Hickman House to see. Kid-friendly; held rain or shine.

Oct. 17–18: Deutsch Country Days, Marthasville, Mo.
Easily one of the best folklife festivals in the state as well as the nation, it focuses on the rural German immigrant lifestyle of the 1800s. (So—think Amish style as opposed to big-city-German lederhosen and dirndl style; zithers instead of accordions.) Tons of master craftsmen and artists, musicians, and many, many more gather to demonstrate candle dipping, hide tanning, iron working, kloppelei (lace weaving with bobbins), sorghum making, weaving, sausage stuffing, kraut making, steam-sawmilling . . . all on the lovely, rolling grounds of the Luxenhaus Farm.

Oct. 18 (?) [well, last year it was on 10/19...]: St. Joseph’s Parish Fall Festival, Westphalia, Mo.
Fall Festival: Sausage, turkey, all the other yummy country food and church-supper stuff. And Westphalia is a lovely town—relatively large compared to Bonnots Mill, Frankenstein, and Taos, but we love their 1848 Romanesque/Gothic church, made of that local tan “cottonstone,” that sits picturesquely on a hilltop, as well as the other historic buildings in the town.

Oct. 23–24: Wild Goose Festival, Sumner, Mo.
The 55th annual festival of the town famous as the Wild Goose Capital of the World and the home of Maxie, the World’s Largest Goose. Bring your camera as well as your camo! There’s a soup supper, gooseberry pie contest and auction, prince, princess, and queen contests, parade, petting zoo, clay pigeon shooting, horseshoes, a baby show, duck-calling contest, hay rack ride, bonfire, and hot dog roast. Of course, the reason for all these goosey activities is Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, which is one of the major stopover points for migrating Canada Geese, and a place to see all in itself.

Nov. 1: St. Francis Xavier Parish Harvest Festival, Taos, Mo.
“Our Harvest Festival is held the first Sunday of November. We have the most unique harvest festival menu. We serve roast turkey and ‘Taos Tasty Treat’ sausage along with trimmings of heritage dressing, sweet potatoes, fried Osage apples and much much more. We have available in the parish gym a country store, a Christmas craft booth, the large raffle, bingo and other games. This is also a time for all parishioners to work together for the good of the parish.” . . . This festival is a great warmup for Thanksgiving!

Nov. 21: Christbaumfest, Cole Camp, Mo.
It’s a craft show in two locations: the Lutheran School and the Jaycee Hall. Plus: lunch! Plus: all the town’s antique, craft, and gift shops will be open. As I have said, Cole Camp, a historic German settlement on the border of the Ozarks and the Prairies, is a lovely place to be.

[A note about my pictures: Just because a picture is positioned next to something, doesn't necessarily mean it's "of" that thing. That "fall supper" picture next to Frankenstein is actually a summer picnic at Wardsville. So, shoot me. I was trying to be illustrative, but not literal. Also, a big thank you to Susan Ferber for letting me use so many of her lovely photos, particularly of the Old Munichburg Oktoberfest, Deutsch Country Days, and of the Tour of Missouri 2007.]

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