As all of you know, today is Labor Day. Most people see it as a holiday to celebrate the workers in America that have given so much to our country. It’s a day for families to get together, to have picnics, and celebrate one last outing before school gets back into full swing. However, for me, it means one more thing: fall is coming.
When I was still attending school at Wartburg College, Labor Day meant school was about to start for me. Quite often, I found myself moving in on Labor Day. The Fall Term started just a few days later. With school commencing, I always knew that all of my favorite fall activities were about to begin. Following is a list of the reasons fall is my favorite season.
1. Weather. There’s something about the cool, crisp air and gentle breezes of fall that is so calming. It’s the perfect time of year to be going on long, refreshing walks. Not to mention the fact that I love when I can wear sweatshirts again!
2. Leaves. The bright reds, oranges, and yellows adorning all of the trees throughout the month of October are simply beautiful. When I was growing up, my mom, dad, grandpa, grandma and I would take a weekend vacation during October where we would drive along the Mississippi River on the Great River Road to look at the leaves. We normally drove all the way up to Minnesota and Wisconsin, through Illinois, and finally back into Iowa. For anyone that has never had the opportunity to take a trip like that, I would highly recommend it. Now, we get the full benefit of seeing the leaves throughout Missouri on our way to Branson to see The Texas Tenors. There’s an area on Highway 65 between Springfield and Branson where you can see nothing but trees for miles on both sides of the road. It truly is breathtaking!
3. Corn mazes. One of the great things about living in Iowa is having the option of going to a corn maze every fall. There’s something about getting lost in a seemingly impossible maze for several hours with some of your friends that is so much fun. That is, until you’ve been going around in circles for hours, and the maze is ready to close. There was one year that my boyfriend at the time and I were in a maze and happened to be in that situation. We couldn’t for the life of us figure out how to get out of there! We knew what time the maze closed, and once it got to be that time, we decided we’d better start cutting through the corn to get out. When we finally reached the exit, everything was dark–including the building we paid in. The worst part? There was a fence around everything to keep people from sneaking in without paying, and apparently to keep people who were trapped in after hours from getting out. Fortunately, the owners were just leaving, so we yelled until they heard us. They felt so badly about it! My favorite corn maze to go to (not the one we were trapped in) is Dan-D Farms. That one always has a haunted maze around Halloween time, so you end up with people jumping out at you from the corn throughout the maze. It definitely adds to the atmosphere! This year, their maze is in the shape of the United States, presumably because of the election this year. I can’t wait to try it out!
4. Apples. Apples are one of my favorite fruits, and fortunately, they are in abundance during the fall. We always loved to stop at Kelly’s Apple Orchard in Galena, IL on our leaf trip. They have some of the best apples I’ve ever tasted, not to mention some amazing apple cider. Then, there’s the caramel apples! I am absolutely in love with those, but they have to be the ones without the nuts!
5. Pumpkins. I’ve never been a huge fan of pumpkin patches like some people. They just don’t interest me all that much. However, I love anything and everything pumpkin. My favorite: pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream! Yum!
6. Hayrack rides. Sadly, it’s been a long time since I’ve been on a hayrack ride. That doesn’t make me love them any less though! My church always used to have a hayrack ride on a parishioner’s farm each year while we were also having a weenie and marshmallow roast. I will never forget the last time we had an outing like that. I was sitting on top of a huge hay bale with a bunch of other kids from the church. For some reason, we got to singing “Who Stole the Cookie From the Cookie Jar” for the entire ride. What a strange memory to have!
7. Marching band competitions. When I was in high school, fall always meant it was marching band season. Football games, early morning and Saturday practices, and competitions. We always had four competitions: Davis County, the State competition, Valley Fest, and the Mid-Iowa Band Championship. Just about every Saturday in October was taken up with these competitions or with rehearsals. I loved the crowding on the bus, comraderie between band members as they were waiting for results, section chats, and huddling under blankets in the stands while clutching hot chocolates after marching. Also, Pella was (and is) extremely competitive. We were extremely disappointed if we didn’t win. I’d venture a guess that we are one of the best marching bands in the Midwest, but I am a bit biased. Even while I was going to school at Wartburg, I still made sure to come home for at least one of the competitions. Last year was the first year I was unable to make it. I really missed it, so hopefully this year, I can find a weekend to go. What can I say? I’m still extremely proud of the Marching Dutch!
8. Halloween. This is quite possibly my favorite holiday of the year. It’s so much fun! I love to decorate and dress up for this holiday. My freshman year at Wartburg, my roommate and I even bought a ghost that flew across our room while screaming anytime someone walked in the door. We named the ghost James Raoul Phantom, and we definitely had a blast with that. Oh, and let’s not forget my experience of Halloween in Las Vegas that I mentioned in my recent entry Memories! I went trick-or-treating through my senior year of high school. I probably would still be going if it weren’t so frowned upon. After all, who doesn’t like free candy?
9. Haunted houses. I had to make this a separate category because I love them so much! I’ve been to haunted houses all over the state. Some were really good, some were…not so good. Two years ago, my boyfriend and I even went haunted house hopping all over Omaha on All Hallow’s Eve. Talk about amazing! The last haunted house I went to was in Waterloo. I went with a group of frends from Wartburg, and it was actually decent. The best part was that several of my friends were chickens. There was a room in the house that was filled with clowns, and one of my friends happened to be scared to death of clowns. He screamed. Very loudly. I thought it was hilarious! I have yet to find a haunted house that actually scares me, but I’m not going to stop trying!
10. The Texas Tenors return to Branson! This is quite possibly one of the best reasons to love fall. This year, The Texas Tenors are in Branson consistently throughout the months of September, October, and November. Of course, I am planning on being there multiple weekends each month. Surprisingly, I’m not the only one. In fact, every weekend I’m planning on going, there’s a whole bunch of other fans going as well. This year, the huge fan event will be held October 12-14, and I can’t wait! There have been so many people working very hard to make this event a success. Besides having three concerts of The Texas Tenors that weekend, we also will be having a Meet & Greet for several hours with them, a decorated car caravan, a barbecue, a visit to the Tiger Sanctuary, and a mini golf tournament. It is going to be so much fun!
It’s almost to the point that Branson is a second home to me. I get to see my best friends when I’m there. I finally know my way around town (still working on the shortcuts). The staff at the Seven Gables Inn knows me, as do the staff at Starlite Theatre. Plus, I feel more comfortable and at home there than I do anywhere else. I absolutely love when The Texas Tenors are there and can’t wait to get back!