One of the highlights of my Fall is Harvest Fest in my home town of Stillwater, MN. Located right on the St. Croix river, Stillwater is as picturesque and charming as any East coast town. Every October the citizens of Stillwater and surrounding Twin Cities neighborhoods join in celebrating the traditions of Fall Harvest. Festivities include a pumpkin weigh-off, pumpkin paddle (think kayaking down a river in enormous carved out pumpkins), micro-brew and wine tastings, a chili cook-off contest, a pumpkin bake-off and a live outdoor music.
It’s fun for both kids (who are encouraged to don their Halloween costumes and petition local stores for candy) and adults (who find pleasure in tasty brews and good music).
The most remarkable occurrence this year was the record-setting pumpkin contest. As you can see from the photos, these contestants aren't messing around with puny pumpkins, these babies are HUGE. In fact, the winner of the Stillwater contest weighed in at approximately 1,812 pounds and set a world record!! Beyond admiring these steroid pumped fruits, local artists please the crowd by carving and molding each of these giants into fun (and spooky) Halloween renderings.
Go early. Parking becomes an obstacle as the day goes on. I recommend avoiding the the downtown main streets and looking for a spot further up the hill. Neighborhood parking is available and free.
You can avoid paying full price for the micro brew tasting if you enter around 1 pm. The tastings only go until 4 pm, so they charge you $15 instead of $25. And you'll still have plenty of time to sample the alcohol. Remember as long as you have a bracelet on (given to you when you enter the tent) you can go in and out of the tasting tent as much as you like.
Stick around for the pumpkin smash. It's usually around 4:30 pm and one of the large pumpkins is hoisted from a crane in the park and dropped in front of the crowd. It's quite a hit!
Bring your camera. The size of the pumpkins alone are worth a snapshot or two, but the rest of the festivities, the river and fall leave change make perfect polaroids.
While you're there, don't forget to check out the local shops! Stillwater has an abundance to offer in regards to gift boutiques, antique stores and fine dining.