Autumn has long been my favorite season of the year. Trees and bushes show their glorious fall foliage. Once they fall to the ground they make a crunching sound under my feet as I walk along the street.
When my son was a toddler, we would head for Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg where we would collect leaves. He would squeal gleefully as he darted about looking for different colors and shapes. We would take our treasures home, wrap them in saran, and place them carefully in one of my heaviest cookbooks to preserve them. I actually saved that one cookbook with the last leaves we collected and it’s hidden beneath some photo albums in a bin stored at my son’s house. A beautiful memory.
Two years ago I spent a couple of days in Toronto. My friend Deborah lived by the lake and I recall our wonderful walk among the colorful trees in the neighborhood. I hadn’t experienced fall in a while as Mexico has a totally different climate and vegetation.
Last summer I discovered Washington state and I returned again this year to enjoy the summer and fall. Busloads of tourists come to Leavenworth to admire the amazing display of color at this time of year. The Autumn Leaf Festival held two weekends ago attracted hundreds of tourists. The Salmon Festival also happened recently. But we are now in the midst of three weekends of Oktoberfest, which means thousands of people flocking to Leavenworth.
Oktoberfest! This quaint Bavarian village is synonymous with the Oktoberfest celebration. Lederhosen and dirndls are worn by many. Entertainment abounds at three different venues. Bratwurst on a bun is just one of the many items on the menu. And of course there are numerous types of beer to choose from. Hotels and campgrounds are booked solid. Driving through town is more like a congested parking lot.
This weekend Apple Days was held at the Pioneer Museum in Cashmere. Yours truly got caught up in the spirit and volunteered in the vintage railroad ticket station. Entertainment varied from gymnasts to mariachi and more. Shoot outs were held on the hour. And of course an apple pie baking contest was featured. This gentleman was serving up sarsaparilla in the bar.
A wind blew in yesterday and a shower of pine needles has covered the ground. The aroma is heavenly. And my favorite tree in Cashmere has begun to change color.
Fall has arrived and the annual Autumn Leaf Festival took place on the weekend. This is the longest running festival in Leavenworth and celebrates the turning colors of the autumn leaves. It originated in 1964 when the town adopted the Bavarian theme. The parade is a highlight where floats as well as bands come from all over Washington state as well as British Columbia. Hundreds of people crowd the streets to view this spectacle and Highway 2 is closed down for several hours. Restaurants and shops are filled to overflowing, and parking spaces are at a premium. Indeed Icicle Road has become a parking lot all the way down to the golf course.
This has been a busy weekend. It’s both Homecoming Week and Autumn Leaf Festival. For a Canadian living here now, these have been exciting events for me. Homecoming Week was non-existent where I grew up. And the Autumn Leaf Festival is unique to Leavenworth.
On Friday night we drove out to Peshastin. The high school football stadium is located at the Dryden Elementary School located there. Our local team, Cascade Kodiaks, were playing the Sultan Turks. The first quarter saw our team down 40-7, but they rallied and the final score was 48-41, although not in our favor.
The stands were packed. It seemed like the whole town was there. A great many people there, like us, didn’t have kids in high school but had come out to support and cheer on the team. The enthusiasm was contagious, and every time a touchdown was scored and the fireworks went off, I was right in there with the crowd. A friend was sitting nearby, and his son was one of the star players on the team, so that added to the football fever around us.
At half-time, the lights were dimmed and a makeshift stage was bathed in floodlights where the homecoming royalty were introduced. I thoroughly enjoyed the speeches the students made, and wondered why we never had anything like this back when I was a teenager in Winnipeg. Homecoming Week is definitely a huge celebration down here.
When this part of the program ended, there was a spectacular fireworks display. In all honesty, it put Winnipeg’s Canada Day celebrations to shame. And this is only a high school football game! I was so totally mesmerized by the display that I only took a handful of pictures, very unusual for me.
Vendors in the stands came around with hot dogs, popcorn and candy. I opted for the hot chocolate, as up here in the mountains the temperature drops quickly once the sun sets. I had dressed for the occasion in a long-sleeve turtleneck, a sweatshirt and a fleece jacket on top. Of course I had also brought along a blanket.
Saturday dawned clear and sunny. The temperatures were rising and we headed downtown to watch the Autumn Leaf Festival parade. I was completely overwhelmed by the number of floats and the incredibly huge marching bands. The parade went on for an hour and a half. There were floats and bands from all over the state of Washington. Canadians were also represented by floats from Kelowna, Penticton and White Rock in British Columbia. I took 348 photos, but I will share only a few here.
After the parade we headed downtown to Front Street. Blocked off to traffic, the streets were crowded with pedestrians. The shops, restaurants and bars were all packed. Some of the people were dressed up in traditional leiderhausen. Different bands provided entertainment at the gazebo.
We were able to find a table at Munchausen and enjoyed a cold and refreshing beer. Afterwards we were treated to a gymnastics display a little further down the street.
Our final stop was at King Ludwig’s, a popular German restaurant that has become my favorite. A great band serenaded us with lively tunes as we ate dinner. Pictured below is a house specialty of sauerbraten.
Of course all the locals are amused by my excitement over these events and keep telling me to just wait for Octoberfest next month. That happens for THREE weekends!!!!!