Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hot Date #9: Fall Festival Madness!

What, oh what, were we thinking when we decided to spend our Saturday carousing all over Upstate South Carolina?

The truth is, I really enjoy attending fairs and festivals. Probably more festivals than fairs, as I can’t imagine rides that are dismantled and re-assembled constantly being especially safe. Unfortunately, what with moving last year, we missed out on Festival Prime Time, which meant that this year we felt the need to make it all up. At once. Add to that the fact that there were two great festivals being held this weekend, in two cities we had yet to really explore…it was like one big conundrum.

So, armed with our trusty GPS unit and dressed in our fall best, we headed out early Saturday afternoon to partake in everything these Upstate South Carolina festivals had to offer. Our first stop: the Spartanburg International Festival at Barnet Park.

We had planned on arriving around 2:30, which would give us two full hours before heading on to our next festival. But we got a late start, and then we couldn’t find any sort of address to the Park—which led to us driving in circles around Spartanburg (knowing that the festival was in downtown, at least) until we saw the road blocks and found a parking garage. This left us with just enough time for food, a quick walk around the booths representing the many different countries, and some glances at the belly and South American folk dances on the two stages.

I’m disappointed that I wasn’t hungrier, anyway. Because the variety of food at this festival—especially for a festival in the Upstate, and even more especially for one in Spartanburg—was astounding. Everything from Indian to Dominican to Slovakian! Steve and I settled on lamb and falafel platters from the Sahara Mediterranean Grill, which were absolutely delicious. However, as previously mentioned, thanks to our unreliable GSP system (and the fact that our first stop was 30+ minutes from home, our second stop another 30 minutes from our first stop) our time at the International Festival was cut a bit short. No matter, though, as we were ready to make our way to the Greer Station Oktoberfest Festival for beer, German crafts, and live Oompah bands!
Although only five years old (a baby in the way of Oktoberfest celebrations around the world), the Greer Station Oktoberfest is hailed as one of the best small-town festivals in South Carolina…and after just a couple hours there, we could see why! The stores and bars lining the streets of “downtown” Greer had their doors swung open and their festival specials well advertised. Everywhere we looked there were guys and gals in lederhosen and dirndls. The authentic bands playing on stages at either end of the closed-off street were talented and fun. Spaten was one of the main sponsors, but I was also pleased to see that a local brewery, Thomas Creek, had a booth—I’m a big fan of their Stillwater Vanilla Cream Ale.

The only disappointment? Steve’s insistence that despite the many booths selling brats, pretzels, and German chocolate cake…he wanted shrimp and rice from the booth of a local Japanese restaurant. I insisted that this was some sort of mortal sin and refused to partake in his extremely non-Oktoberfest dish. Come on, about the only thing Germany and Japan have in common is World War II!

When the day was over, we were hot and tired and our feet hurt…plus we had another 25-minute drive home. However, that doesn’t mean that we didn’t enjoy ourselves! In fact, quite the opposite. Although by doing two festivals in one day, we limited our time at each of them, planning an afternoon like this was a great way for us to discover new places in our adopted home. A suggestion on our part would be to research festivals in your area and simply give them a chance! Guys, maybe even use this as a surprise date. Tell your lady to dress comfortably and pack a camera and spend a day visiting two or three of the festivals that you find…because this time of year, there are bound to be plenty of them to experience! Regardless of how you do it, with the fun food and the cold beers and the interesting things you’ll inevitably get to do and see, a fall fairs & festivals date rates another 8/10 in our book.

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