I’m a Fall junkie. I love the temperatures, the colors, and most of all the angle of the sun that in contrast with Spring whose high bright white light gives everything a bit of a washed out look, instead makes everything more vivid with clarity and richness. I chose to get married in the Fall to take advantage of all of these things (we’ll talk about how it rained that entire weekend another time), but even more telling of my affinity for Fall is the fact that pumpkin rivals chocolate in my list of favorite flavors. It might even usurp it for a couple of solid months.
When we left the Midwest, I was concerned that the Pacific Northwest with all of its evergreens would produce a lackluster Fall. My fears were unfounded. In fact, just as it is back east, Fall might just be the best season out here, too. Lately, we’ve been on a sunny stretch of seventy degree sapphire-blue sky days that are erasing any memory of the overcast start to our Summer. The leaves have begun to both turn and fall and the sweaters are making their way back to the top of the clothing piles.
Ah Harvest Fair…how do I love thee? First, allow me to declare it the hands-down winner in the unimportant contest of Amy’s favorite island events. To me, Harvest Fair in a single event encompasses everything good about living on our island. I would say that nostalgia plays a big role in my love for the fair, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate because we didn’t have an event like this where I grew up in Pennsylvania. Perhaps the nostalgic element is that the event conjures images and feelings of a conglomerate of disparate events from my youth. I’m sure I went on hayrides back then, picked apples and then drank pressed cider, listened to old-timey music and visited with all of my neighbors, but perhaps not all at the same time.
So what is it? It’s a bit of everything I just mentioned with farm animals, hay rides, big slides, apple picking and pie contests and more. It’s held at a gentleman’s farm, Johnson Farm, located in the center of Bainbridge Island. The farm was bequeathed to the community to be used as public farmland and there you’ll find a community garden as well as a lovely little apple orchard whose fruits not only make a charming and perfectly-suited backdrop to the event, but also serve as the main ingredient to that quintessential Fall staple – apple cider. On a suggestion from a friend, our little family of three visited the farm a couple weeks ago to help in cleaning up the fallen apples in preparation for the fair. We picked up fruit, helped trim low-hanging branches and the hubby even got his tractor-riding fix. (We won’t talk about how he almost rolled it going down a steep hill). The best part of helping out, other than seeing all of the little ones happily pitching in, was the farm-fresh lunch that was provided as thanks for helping out. Everything was homemade and much of it locally sourced. We left sun-kissed, sated and satisfied that we were able to help in our small way for this, our favorite event.
I’m still not totally getting at the event, so perhaps the photos will help. My in-house photographer happened to be back in the Midwest this weekend visiting with his parents, so my shots aren’t as good as what he usually captures. If anything looks less than magnificently wonderfully charmingly awesome, it’s because of the person behind the camera, not the event. I hope what I did get gives at least a little taste of why my Fall heart belongs to Harvest Fair:
This is our third fair and so far, the weather has always been great. I think this year’s was the winner, though.
The Land Slide:
I am too old to go on the Land Slide (per the sign), though I would very much like to take a turn.
Sweet sheep before:
During the shearing demo:
There are red, green and golden apples on the farm. The gold ones are the mushiest. I now know this from having to clean the fallen ones. If ever on an orchard assisting in apple cleanup, park yourself near the green apple tree. Trust me.
Cup of cider #1:
The cow (?), goat (?), sheep (?) who needed to be “milked”:
Big digger swing:
When I reviewed my photos, I realized I didn’t get any shots of the horse-drawn carriage, the hay bale jumping station, the tasty local food, the homemade pie contest, the best scarecrow contest and so much more. The hardest to chronicle (but perhaps the soul of the event) is the small community feel you get at these kinds of things. Even though my hometown is much smaller than Bainbridge Island (by almost 10,000 people), this island feels much more intimate. It is hard to go to an event like Harvest Fair and not recognize practically everyone there. In recounting the day’s doings to her daddy that night, The Bug listed off everyone she saw there – friends from kindergarten, friends from her old school, people we know from the grocery store, the hardware store, the library, church, swimming… you get the picture. Years ago, I might have thought this too small, but these days it fills me and reminds me why I love living here so much. It hearkens back to a time when communities were smaller (or maybe just seemed smaller) and people would notice whether you attended an event or not. They’d see you in the grocery store the next day and would ask: I didn’t see you this year at Harvest Fair – were you away? The longer I’m here, it’s the combination of this small-town community feel combined with the annual ritual of attending events like Harvest Fair that leave me feeling grateful that we found out about this island a few short years ago. Even if in years to come The Bug decides that she feels too old to go to Harvest Fair, you can bet that you’ll find me there, soaking up its Fall goodness and counting the days until the next one.