Saturday, October 14, 2006

Autumn Harvest (Another Festival)

Considering there are so many seasonal festivals that go on in the Richmond area in September and October, it's not surprising that I managed to attend two in three weekends. The first was the Carytown Wine Festival at the very end of September, which involved a small tasting glass and several local wineries giving tiny samples in the Carytown Court parking lot. I'm nowhere close to being an expert, but almost all of the wines I tasted were too sweet to appeal to me. The souvenier glass and the experience were worthwhile, although I'm not rushing out to buy any Virginia wines quite yet.

The second event I went to was in Syria, Virginia, about an hour and a half northwest of Richmond. My friend and I drove through miles of countryside to Graves' Mountain, to check out one of their two Apple Harvest Festival weekends. The Graves' Mountain Lodge and farm includes several acres of orchards, a restaurant, picnic pavilion, and other features that allow them to host entire festivals.

Compared to the small scale of the wine festival, the Apple Harvest Festival was enormous. With several arts and crafts vendors, huge outdoor and indoor seating areas, multiple activities for children and adults, and large bins filled with freshly picked apples, I had a hard time focusing my attention. Aside from the apples, my first priority was to try Brunswick Stew, and the cornbread, apple butter, cider, and applesauce that came with it.

I'm not a fan of lima beans, and avoided them to the best of my ability. The stew was otherwise quite tasty - it had a tomatoey base, potatoes, corn, and small pieces of pork. After I smeared apple butter on my cornbread, I finished it off with a spoon, and the other apple goodies were fine but not exceptional.

Somehow I managed to resist funnel cake and homemade apple butter donuts. I did however, listen to a bluegrass band, browse the tent crafts, and do a lot of walking around in perfect October weather. I spent the last half hour leaning deep into some wooden bins to hand pick Staymen, Fuji, Winesap, York, and Red Delicious apples. My friend and I ended up with a half bushel between the two of us, and we had a drowsy drive back to Richmond in the midst of colorful fall foliage. In my opinion, days like those are the most appropriate way to celebrate autumn.

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