Tag Archives: marching band

Caramel Apples, Corn Mazes, and The Texas Tenors: 10 Things I love About Fall

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!

My college roommate and me sporting our Wartburg sweatshirts

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!

The Pella High 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?

James Raoul Phantom

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!

The group that went to the haunted house in Waterloo

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!

Courtesy of Cheryl Stauffer


Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Music, Travel


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Well, it’s finally the weekend. As I look forward to the upcoming week, I also find myself looking back. It seems as though there have been a plethora of postings on Facebook lately with inspirational quotes and sayings meant to keep people looking toward the future and living in the present. For instance, I find myself dwelling on one such posting made by a friend of mine:

“Learn to appreciate what you have before time makes you appreciate what you had.” ~Anonymous

Today, I have spent a lot of time reminiscing about my high school marching band days. This could be due to the fact that I keep hearing people talk about marching band camp and looking forward to the upcoming season. Or it could be partially due to the picture I came across on Facebook that combines two of my interests: kittens and the Phantom of the Opera.

You see, during my sophomore year of high school, my high school marching band (The Pella Marching Dutch) performed Phantom of the Opera. Our performance, in my severely biased opinion, was nothing short of outstanding. I’ve always been extremely proud of my marching band days, but this performance takes the cake. For those of you that are interested, you can view our performance here:

My favorite part of the entire performance is right at the end (around the 8:00 mark in the video). Our band worked tirelessly to perfect that part, and we never quite got it right. Until that performance, when it was near perfect. It also happened to be the last competition for my band director as he decided to retire that year. Talk about amazing! It gives me goosebumps every time I watch it!

Ever since, I have been completely obsessed with Phantom of the Opera music. It definitely ranks up there in my all-time favorite music list. Aside from owning the CD (which my college roommate and I spent several roadtrips listening to–even meowing along with the songs at one point!) and movie, I’ve even been to several live performances of it, including one at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London.

Her Majesty’s Theatre during the day

A close-up

At night

Imagine my delight when I got to Planet Hollywood in October 2009 and heard Marcus Collins and Barbara Padilla sing “All I Ask of You” as a duet! Can you think of anything better? I can’t!

Marcus and Barbara, courtesy of

I had flown out to Vegas with my mom and Aunt Lynda, and my cousin Jeremiah came from Arizona to meet us there. It was Halloween, so we got the pleasure of seeing some people dressed up in very strange costumes…

People walking into our hotel

At the actual performance, we were fortunate enough to be seated at the tables up front. There were three runners jutting out from the stage: one on the left and right, and one in the center. I was sitting just to the left of the center one, so that when Marcus came out on it, I had to turn backward in my seat. I could have reached out and touched him if I wanted to! Could it possibly get any better than that?

The answer is: yes. Three years ago, I never could have imagined that I would eventually get to the point that I could call The Texas Tenors my friends. In fact, I never expected I would see them again. How ironic is it that the first (and last) time I see the show America’s Got Talent, I fall in love with a group that becomes such a major part of my life? Just imagine if I hadn’t happened to tune into the show at that point! Would I have ever discovered them? Who knows?!

I also could never have imagined that I would hear my new favorite group sing a song that brings back as many memories as “Music of the Night”. Those of you that watched the video I posted earlier know that my favorite part at the end was during “Music of the Night”, so that song definitely carries some heavy emotions with it for me. Therefore, it came as no surprise when I practically bawled the first time I heard The Texas Tenors’ arrangement. It was absolutely beautiful–much better than any of the other performances I’d ever heard!!!

A friend of mine (who also is a Tenor fan) texted me recently talking about how things have changed for her so much in the past year, and she can attribute her better state of mind partially to The Texas Tenors. I can’t even begin to explain how or why, but I know that is a true statement for many of their fans, including me. They say in their show that they are “on the ride of their life”. They are enjoying every moment and excited to see what the future has in store for them. I am determined to appreciate them for as long as they are around (which will hopefully be a very long time), and no matter what, I will always be grateful for the experiences I have had as a fan of The Texas Tenors.


Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Music


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