Over the weekend, we spent a few hours in Leavenworth, Washington during their Autumn Leaf festival. Leavenworth is a small town in Eastern Washington State that was at the center of the local timber industry in decades past. When the industry changed, so did Leavenworth. Nestled in the foothills of the Cascade mountains the town took advantage of the fact that the local terrain looks much like the Alps of Germany and redecorated in a Bavarian theme.
For the last fifty years Leavenworth has attracted thousands of visitors from all over the world looking for a little taste of German beer, bratwurst, oompa music, strudel and lederhosen clad vendors. To ensure a steady stream of visitors throughout the year the town has adopted a series of regular events they label festivals. Oktoberfest is the big one but they also do a tree lighting fest at Christmas, Mayfest in the spring, Kinderfest (a festival for kids) and other pseudo fests. The warm up for Oktoberfest is in September with the Autumn Leaf festival. It is a little more family friendly than Oktoberfest with its Munich like tents packed full of thousands of beer drinkers. Autumn leaf has the usual collection of arts and crafts vendors in the main park and lots of live music in various venues and all the great food and drink but with about a fourth of the population density of Oktoberfest or Tree lighting weekends. In normal years, the town is adorned with trees showing their beautiful fall colors but not so much this year. Here in Central Washington it has been extremely hot and dry all summer and the leaves just kind of dried out rather than turned out their usual vibrant colors.
Amber and I visited a few of the mandatory sites such as our favorite brat haven, the goat herder statue, and of course the downtown gazebo which is the center of activity during a festival.
Amongst the costumed Leavenworthians there strode a traveling band of pirates brilliantly decked out in the appropriate garb. They were thoroughly obliged to pose for pictures. And the eye-patched pirate did not hesitate to snuggle up close to Amber despite her non-pirate apparel.
We patroned the Icicle Brewery which boasted a beer called Dark Persuasion, a “German chocolate cake ale!” How could I not try it? It was great! (Lee is a sucker for chocolate. Oh, and dark beer.) We scored seats on the upper level which overlooks the brewing floor.
The evening ended with us bouncing around town checking out shops, the various live music acts spread throughout and listening to the clip-clop of the horse drawn carriage that totes around visitors all year-long.