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Having lived as both a local and as a weekend warrior in Door County, I can honestly say that one of my favorite seasons to spend time in Door County is fall. It might be the combination of a more relaxed schedule and less pressure to hurry up and relax during summer vacations, but there’s something about the brisk breeze and earlier sunsets that makes me reflect on the beauty of our four seasons. And as summer plans wane, I am able to invite more friends up more often to enjoy the change of seasons.
This past weekend I had three good friends join me for a fantastic fall weekend on the peninsula. It was truly the most perfect weather you could ask for, which allowed us to fit in all the fun things we had planned. The fall colors were beginning to show, but there was still plenty of green to be seen. I have heard predictions that peak fall color will be the weekend of October 21st, so there’s still time to plan a trip to see the colors in full splendor!
During the day on Saturday we ventured to the 33rd annual Egg Harbor Pumpkin Patch Fest, an event that celebrates the arrival of fall with food, drinks, music and plenty of fun kids activities. It’s perfect for the whole family, and best of all, it’s free admission! The Modern Day Drifters, a contemporary country band, were playing some low-key classic tunes to a smaller crowd when we arrived just before noon, but as the beer tents got busier so did the dance floor! After tapping our toes we navigated around downtown Egg Harbor to explore the many arts and crafts vendors, pet some alpacas and make a snack stop.
One kettle corn vendor was truly knocking it out of the park with their efforts – a real cowboy was handing out samples while another stirred the gigantic kettle, throwing out an entertaining “yeehaw!” now and then. We had to try a sample and we were not let down! The salty sweet popcorn went perfectly with our pumpkin beer from the local brewery Shipwrecked. In between vendors we listened to a few songs from a local acoustic group called Small Forest. They are an indie folk group with a mix of mellow and upbeat songs that seemed to be the perfect background music for a crowd of meandering fest goers.
With the clouds clearing and sun shining, we decided to hike the Sugarbush Trail, which is an often-overlooked loop that is part of Newport State Park. To get there, you must turn left on N. Newport Road instead of right to the main park entrance, an you will find a small parking lot next to the trail entrance. It’s a shady hike with lots of moss paths, rock walls and colorful fungi.
Before heading back south, we made a stop in Ellison Bay’s Island Orchard Cider tasting room. As always, the knowledgeable and friendly pourers took us through a free tasting to sample the selection of ciders. Our favorite was the oak-aged cider, which reminded us a bit of a fruitier chardonnay, followed closely by the ginger nitro cider, which is perfect for anyone who has an affinity for ginger. We learned that the tasting room was recently ranked in the top ten for cider tasting rooms in America by USA Today, and we can see why!
To end our evening, we caught the sunset in the Sister Bay Harbor before dropping by Door County Brewing Company for another round of free live music and few delicious craft brews. The space was packed wall-to-wall, busier than ever, which in part must have been because of the Pumpkin Patch Festival. The band, Dead Horses, is one I’ve heard previously in parts of the state and they have continued to grow in popularity. They are based in Milwaukee and have a folk bluegrass style that is truly a pleasure to hear. The frontwoman, Sarah Vos, has a captivating voice that you will want to hear more and more of. Songs were original and introspective, something ideal for a fall evening such as that one.
There is still plenty of time left to savor the season in Door County! This coming weekend is the famed Fall Fest in Sister Bay (see the music preview here!) and then the colorful leaves are estimated to hit their prime the following weekend. Check out the events calendar to plan your trip and the lodging section to book your stay. And don’t forget your camera!
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