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Friday, November 23, 2012

Strawberry Banke's Fallfest

In the northeast there are a lot of fairs and events that take place in the fall.  You have the Rochester Fair which is...well...a white trash festival.   You have the Deerfield fair which is an old school country fair.  You also have a bunch of fairs in Maine where are for the redneck in all of us.

Fallfest is the anti-fair.  It's not really a fair.  It's a combo of the normal Strawberry Banke experience, a chili festival, and farming  / craft demos.

Who wants to shear a sheep?
First up are the demos.  For anyone who didn't grow up on a farm these are enjoyable.  There are a number of different demos.  Fireplace cooking, sheep shearing, and basket making are just a few examples of what you get to see.

Looking to the right; would you want to cook using only what you see?  In the upper left is your oven.  It's just a hole.  You can put an iron pot over the fire  or use the dutch oven in the bottom left.  Now do this with a huge dress on.  Have fun!

Now here is another fun thing I bet you never thought about.  How did they make those baskets back before they had the tools we have today?

1. Fine a nice log.

2. Grab yourself a hammer.

3. Beat the log over and over until the wood starts to fluff off in strips.

I cannot imagine how much effort it takes to make a basket like this.   You can see on the ground that this lady has some strips but not enough to make the basket.  She's also been doing this for about thirty minutes.

Next comes the chili fest. This is the main draw of the festival.  Restaurants from all over the Portsmouth, NH area come out and offer up their best chili.  For a flat price you can eat as much chili as you can hold.  You also get to vote on which one was your favorite.  This is a great deal.  You can eat until you bust and even if you don't like chili you'll find something you'll like. That's because the chili ranges from what you think as chili to more like stewed beef.  There is also vegetarian chili, lamb chili,  and curry chili.

One thing that stands out about this event is the gardens.  In New England you normally think about the changing trees not gardens this time of year.  However the Gardens at Strawberry display a vast number of late season flowers that can be found in New England.

Just one example of the late seasons flowers you'll find at Strawberry Banke.

Overall Fallfest is a great event.  It's not on the level of Vintage and Vine but it is a better event for families.   While it's more expensive than a normal fair it doesn't have the negative elements of a normal fair.  On the downside the normal fair is days long while Fallfest is only one day.  Don't miss it!

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