GAYS MILLS - Late September. Crawford County. The 2019 Driftless Area Art Festival is in the rear view mirror and here comes the 2019 Gays Mills Apple Festival.
The Driftless Area Art Festival, held last weekend in Soldiers Grove, has become an important part of the fall calendar for the area. This was the 15th annual event and it is a much anticipated rite of fall. It was touch and go this year for a while whether the weather would cooperate to permit the show to go on. There was talk of moving the show, postponing, or (gasp!) cancelling. In the end, the festival was held under grey skies and actually very comfortable temperatures.
The Driftless Art Festival is a laid-back yet exciting event. It’s a party atmosphere with food, music, and dozens of talented artists showing their beautiful work in a wide variety of mediums. You drive to the show on winding roads through the very landscape that the show celebrates. You shift your focus from the scenic countryside to art that depicts the beauty surrounding you. It could be a painting, a photograph, a sculpture, a hand-thrown piece of pottery, or something made of wood, all of which have the probability of becoming an instant family heirloom.
The social aspect of the festival, any festival, is no small thing. Besides meeting the artists, to a person friendly and glad to see you, there is a reunion vibe at the art festival. You will meet new people, see people you haven’t seen for a while, meet their friends and relatives and make connections that you will look back kindly on through the coming winter and years to come. In our busy lives, festivals serve as a crossroads that have become too rare in modern go-go society. You don’t want to be in a hurry at a festival.
The 61st Gays Mills Apple Festival is on the docket for this coming weekend. There is a hustle and bustle in Gays Mills during Apple Festival that smacks of living in Wisconsin Dells or some other tourist Mecca. Like all local festivals Apple Festival celebrates what is important to us, what we’re known for. Thousands of people flock to the orchards and most of them stop in town to hob knob and mingle with other residents and visitors, see (and buy) arts and crafts, listen to some music, and treat the kids to the carnival.
For this one weekend, we have multiple choices of places to eat in town. The pancake breakfast is a great place to start. Lions Club chicken is practically a must-eat for lunch and there are many other options. A wide variety of sweet treats are on offer as well wherever you go. The Gays Mills Library Book Sale at 212 Main is always a big draw. It is a great deal for book buyers and a huge financial help to a local institution. An informed source tells me this will be a great sale. (Read: many books)
I try to never miss the Lions Flea Market at the fairgrounds during Apple Fest. I always find something to buy, be it a tool, an antique, a gag gift, or an entry in the annual “Name That Gadget” contest held among friends. And of course the Apple Festival Parade is the culmination of a busy weekend in the Apple Capitol of Wisconsin.
As much as anything, Apple Festival serves as a homecoming of people who have lived here and moved away. You never know who you’re going to run into and you need to be ready to share memories and stories with those you meet.