There is a lot to be said for fall in the Ozarks. I would go as far as to say that the Ozarks are never as beautiful as they are in the fall. It's already well established that fall is my favorite, but I think that many would agree that we hit the jackpot when fall comes to the Ozarks. Cool, crisp weather, bright blue skies, and a rush of color that hits you in the face and makes you hold your breath. Fall in the Ozarks is also full of lots and lots of fun activities and events. We've hit up a few of those already, including the Arkansas Apple Festival in Lincoln, Arkansas, and the Hollister Grape and Fall Festival in Hollister, MO.
This was our second year to attend the Arkansas Apple Festival, and this year we made it early enough to see the parade. Tractor after tractor caught Young Master Gray's eye, but the excitement wore him completely out! He didn't stay awake long enough to sit on one, but we took this photo to show him when he woke up. Just like last year, we made a stop at Apple Town on the way in to check out their selection of fresh apples, cider and canned jams, jellies, pickles and more. Last year the pumpkins were the draw for Young Master Gray, but this year he was taken by the large wheel that he could easily spin.
After we took in the festival, we drove around Washington County with Jeremy's mom as our guide, showing us different places relatives had lived, worked and played. Our drive eventually brought us to Siloam Springs where we had lunch at Sweetwater Tavern, the restaurant inside the Inn at the Springs. I ordered a bowl of vegetable soup which ended up being vegetable beef soup (heavy on the beef), but it was still pretty good.
The following weekend we made the trek up to Branson, MO to revisit the place where we had gathered five years earlier on the same day in celebration of Jeremy's late grandmother's 85th birthday. That day happened to be Jeremy's birthday as well. The day was bright and the company was splendid. We lunched at the Dobyn's Dining Room located in the Keeter Center on the College of the Ozarks campus, which boasts farm-to-table fare that is brought to you completely by students, from the food they grow on campus to the servers. I enjoyed the most amazing fall-appropriate salad topped with butternut squash and served with pumpkin vinagrette. The Keeter Center also boasts a lodge that was ranked in the top five of college-owned hotels by Travel+Leisure magazine.
Young Master Gray became a little bit confused when three of the four men he calls "papaw" were gathered around the same table! After lunch (and some photo ops and a good bit of visiting) we headed over to downtown Hollister for their Grape and Fall Festival. I had seen a sign for the festival on our way into Branson so we decided to check it out. If the theme of the Apple Festival was tractors, then the theme of this day was trucks. Young Master Gray was able to climb into the cab of two different fire engines, one old, one new. Even in a day where he got to see three "papaws" and a choo-choo, this was the highlight of the day.
We also saw a few animals including goats, rabbits, ducks, geese and a horse. Young Master Gray did NOT want out of his stroller when we got to the goat pin, but he did decide to get out to see the ducks and rabbits.
While we were walking through the festival, a train from the Branson Scenic Railway came rolling through.
It was an altogether lovely fall day (even if it did get hot in the afternoon), and I am glad we took the detour.
Next up on our tour de fall, we plan to visit the pumpkin patch and take a train ride on the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad to see some fall foliage. What fall adventures have you taken so far? What is on your bucket list for the season?