It's officially fall. Sure, the weather guys told us fall began on Sept. 21, but I know the season is here because the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival is going on this weekend. And next weekend the Apple Festival will be held in Wellsburg. On top of that is the mother of all festivals - Oglebayfest next weekend. The list goes on and on in communities big and small.
We are incredibly lucky around these parts to have so many different events throughout the autumn season. And why not? There aren't many other places in the world that can match the beauty of nature that comes along with cool nights and warm days of this season. It's fitting we celebrate it
We are rewarded for our patience of a long, hot summer with the spectacular colors of the autumn leaves, brilliant blue skies and clear but frosty nights appropriate for star gazing.
It feels good to pull on a sweater and crunch through the fallen leaves on the area's walking trails. The smell of chimney smoke is making its annual debut. Windows are open during the day but closed tight before night falls. Daylight is leaving us sooner every day, forcing us inside earlier than we like.
The mums with their orange and gold petals have replaced the impatiens in the flower pots. Cornstalks and pumpkins are decorating front porches and even some of the scary Halloween spiders and ghosts are beginning to show up in the neighborhood.
Our local fall festivals carry many traditions making them the perfect time for family reunions. If you've never walked the streets of Barnesville during Pumpkin Festival time you are cheating yourself out of a true taste of Americana. If you don't like pumpkin pie you might want to try the pumpkin ice cream or a delicious pumpkin doughnut. And, of course, fill the trunk with your Halloween jack 'o lanterns.
Visiting the Apple Festival gives us a good reason to think about getting out the pie pans and rolling pin. You can't leave Wellsburg without purchasing a poke full of delicious apples. It's just what you do.
Oglebayfest weekend is not for the faint of heart. You have to plan your time and travel through the busy roads of Oglebay to ensure you see and taste and experience everything this huge thank-you festival has to offer. Crafters come from many states to sell their wares at this event.
Half the fun of Oglebayfest is climbing aboard the school buses, riding from venue to venue. You can listen to the people around you compare their purchases or critique each site. It just isn't autumn until you buy that bag of kettle corn at Oglebayfest. You can probably make something similar in your microwave but it's not the same.
Wherever the autumn season takes you this year, take time to stop and smell the apple butter cooking over an outdoor fire and return home with a full belly and plenty of family memories.
Enjoy it now. The woolly worms are inching across the road telling us winter is not far behind.
Heather Ziegler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.