Milwaukee Woman Attends First Fall Fest

by Amanda Bourbonais

After attending my first Fall Fest this past weekend, there’s one thing I can say for sure: y’all know how to throw a party. 

I rolled into Door County on a sunny Friday afternoon to visit my good friend (and your very own Peninsula Pulse Special Issues Editor) Grace Johnson. 

Grace has been trying to get me up to Door County since my last visit two years ago, which for some reason was in the middle of winter and very dreary, so I’ve been reluctant to make the drive up again. But this time, DC greeted me with its best fall colors and cozy sweater weather, and boy, am I glad I came. Thanks, Grace! 

Our Fall Fest experience started on Saturday morning, when we began the day at Analog Coffee. Once we were appropriately caffeinated, we headed over to the arts-and-crafts alley to begin perusing before the real crowds arrived. As a creative, artsy person, this was by far my favorite part of the fest: seeing the artisans and their lovely jewelry, clothing, woodworks, soaps and so on, right on down to the alpacas casually munching their hay and displaying the warm wool used to make scarves, blankets and hats. (That’s good advertising right there.) I’ve been to many arts-and-crafts fairs, including those at Summerfest and the state fair, and I have to say this was one of the most pleasant and interesting I’ve attended. Even on my limited budget, I walked away with several items and a plenty of creative inspiration to begin my own craft projects. 

By this time, the parade was set to begin, so we joined the crowds to watch the procession, which included a range of sights from classic fire trucks to, memorably, a conglomeration of bicycles complete with beverage-carrying riders. To anyone who was riding those, I’m suitably impressed by your coordination. You are stronger than I. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Amanda, it’s after 11 am, and you still don’t have a beer in your hand? Sadly, festivals can be challenging for a gluten-free, dairy-free person in this respect, but I did manage to find some kind of fruity, spiked sparkling water and a basket of crispy french fries to tide me over. If I had one request for Fall Fest, it would be more gluten-free and dairy-free options, but I recognize I’m in the minority there. Did it stop me from staring longingly at the pumpkin pie in a cup every time we walked past? No, it did not. Whoever came up with that portable piece of deliciousness, you’re a genius. 

For the rest of the afternoon, we wandered in and out of the many cute stores lining the blocked-off street, shopping and people-watching in equal measure. We picked up some cookies at the Go Bo! Foundation tent and rocked out with Glam Band. Finally, we departed in the late afternoon, exhausted from almost eight hours of festivities. 

Here’s the final count from my first Fall Fest: one new pair of earrings, two adorable feather barrettes, one all-natural peppermint lip balm, one cozy knit hat, 10 spooky-themed cookies, smiles from about 82 dogs spotted, and many memories from one perfect, crisp October day by the lake. Thanks to everyone who makes this festival possible; I definitely look forward to returning next year!