Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Fall Festival Time

By: L.A. Kohl
September 10, 2006
(published in the September 20, 2006 edition of "The Bullseye")
I’m a person who likes things that are constant and unchanging. (Just ask my husband, whose inborn desire to rearrange furniture on a regular basis always bewilders me.) Many things in our lives continually change: children grow up, the economy goes up and down, “newer and better” versions of things come out, people get older, friends and acquaintances move on. For me, it’s just comforting to have a few stand-bys that vary little from year to year.

That’s part of the reason why I enjoy fall so much – its similarities each year are refreshing. You can always count on cooler weather, changing colors, and last but not least…fall festivals. Everywhere I look, I read about different towns celebrating something during this time of year. In Hatton, it’s pumpkins; in Boonville, it’s steam engines; in Hermann, it’s wine; in Marceline, it’s cartoonists; in the town where I grew up, it’s old settlers; and here in Sturgeon and Harrisburg this past weekend – it was just fall in general.

They can all call it something different and focus on varying themes…but basically they are all just a fun way for communities to celebrate fall. You’ll find many similarities at whichever festival you choose to attend…parades, carnivals, baby contests, queen contests, music and dancing, and loads of food, just to name a few.

The parade is always the highlight for my children – mostly because they like getting candy. My dad loves the antique cars, or in Harrisburg’s case, the ugly trucks. The candy and cars are okay, but what I really enjoy are the marching bands.

They bring back memories from my distant past (much more distant than I care to admit.) Who could forget all of that marching, over and over, putting in extra hours before and after school because there was so little time to practice between the beginning of school and the time of the first football game and the Old Settler’s Reunion?

Thus, I just can’t help myself; I have to intently study a band that marches by. Are their steps all in “left/right” sync, are they all “guiding right," and are they all getting their knees up? Problem is, most bands today don’t have to get their knees up…I think they waited until after my marching band days were over to change the rules on what “marching” really constituted. Ah well, the style may change, but as long as there are marching bands in the parade, I remain content.

And that’s what I like – the knowledge that there will be a marching band in a parade, in some fall festival somewhere. It’s not the specific band or parade itself; it’s the fact that it’s a constant in this ever changing, fast-paced world of ours.

So this fall, take some time to relax and celebrate the unchanging sameness of a local fall festival. Your parents and grandparents before you probably did, and your children and grandchildren after you undoubtedly will, why mess with tradition?!

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