Hoosier Mama | Fall is Fabulous in Southern Indiana

By Farrah Alexander

As soon as we flip our calendars to October and there’s a slight crispness in the air, people around Southern Indiana happily pull their Ugg boots over their leggings, anxiously wait in line at Heine Brothers for their pumpkin spice lattes and finally break out their coziest sweaters. It doesn’t matter if it’s still approaching 90 degrees, they’ll don their crocheted scarves as if they’re protesting summer. These lovers of fall and all things pumpkin spice are completely predictable.

I am one of those people.

Yes, I want to pick a pumpkin. Yes, I want whip and a sprinkle of nutmeg on my pumpkin spice latte. (What kind of question is that?) Yes, I love fall. There’s no shame in my pumpkin-spiced game.

The entire season is one of the biggest perks of living in this area. The winter is barren and depressing. The spring solidifies our standing as one of the worst areas for allergy sufferers. The summer is naturally so blazing hot and humid, it’s too miserable to go outside half the time. But fall? Imagine me spinning around like Julie Andrews surrounded by rust-colored trees. The hills are alive with the sound of fallen leaves blowing in the breeze, and I love it.

I have five family-friendly suggestions for you to get the most out of our most fabulous season. By November, you’ll be snuggling next to a fire, baking pumpkin bread and just basking in your newfound love for fall. I just know it.

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Go outside. No, really. Clifty Falls and Charlestown state parks are fantastic places to admire all the gorgeous tones of autumn and leisurely traverse a nature trail. But really you can go anywhere and it will be so much more enjoyable with the cool, crisp air. If shopping is your cardio, go browse the boutiques in downtown New Albany and enjoy a day of brunch and window shopping. Go hunt for fossils in the Falls of the Ohio State Park. Spend a date night walking hand-in-hand across the Big Four Bridge or dining on the patio at Gospel Bird. Take a little day trip and explore nearby historic cities like Madison, Corydon and French Lick. Just get out there! It’s the best time of the year to explore.

Go to Harvest Homecoming. It’s the quintessential Midwest experience. As far as we’re concerned, the parade rivals Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the chicken and dumplings are the best in the world. Browse the booths featuring local shops and adorable crafts. Stand in the absurdly long line for a donut because it’s worth it. Let your kids ride all the rides until they threaten to puke (or actually puke). Stay late, grab a beer and listen to some of the great music. The festival boasts many kid-friendly events, including the baby crawl, the big wheel race, children’s tractor pull, costume contest, dog show and more. Harvest Homecoming begins Oct. 1 and ends Oct. 9.

Trick or Treat! I know “trunk or treats” are all the rage, but I’m old school when it comes to Halloween, and I love trick or treating. I love making a big pot of chili and inviting the grandparents over to see the kids in their goofy costumes. I love passing out candy to all the little kids in the neighborhood. I love chopping up leftover candy and throwing them in a batch of cookies for a once-a-year treat (because I’m sure your risk of contracting diabetes increases tenfold if you eat them more often than that). If you fear the sugar rush that follows an indulgent Halloween night, consider donating your remaining Halloween candy to troops serving overseas. Check out operationgratitude.com for more information.

Peruse St. James Art Fair. Although it requires crossing the river, one of the nation’s best art fairs is practically in our own backyard. You’re sure to find a unique gift, something for yourself you couldn’t live without or just enjoy browsing. You can grab something delicious from one of the many food vendors and relax in beautiful, shady Central Park between admiring the artists’ booths that line several streets in old Louisville. Sculpture, paint, glass, fiber, wood, photography – they have it all, and it’s all incredible. The festival runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

Pick a pumpkin. If Norman Rockwell were to paint fall, it would probably be a depiction of you and your family happily taking a hay ride to Huber’s pumpkin patch. The entire month of October, you can pick your own pumpkin at Joe Huber’s Family Farm in Starlight. While you’re there, you can grab a scoop of pumpkin ice cream at the soda pop shoppe, sample a piece of pumpkin bread at the farm market or just enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie after a meal at the restaurant.

Fall is here. Grab your favorite oversized sweater and embrace it. I’ll see you at Heine Brothers.

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