Memories of fall festivals in the East Tennessee Mountains

There is no place like Tennessee in the fall. A festival happens somewhere in the Knoxville area every weekend and corn mazes are open daily. Of course, an afternoon drive through the Smoky Mountains is a great way to get away from the office. Why stay inside when fall foliage and cool temperatures of the Appalachian Mountains are just outside your door?

Cades Cove fall foliage in the Great Smoky Mountains 2011
I love that the mountains are close enough to Knoxville that getting ready is a snap. Throw one of those lightweight women's sweaters in the car next to a picnic cooler and you're almost ready. Toss in folding chairs or a large quilt and you are on the way. I just love it. If I can catch a fall festival then the trip is even better.

My husband got me hooked on fall festivals when he was working in Jefferson County. Three of his country churches each held one in October. These were always complete with auctions, crafts and always homemade treats to take home.

Fall leaves in the Great Smoky Mountains 2011
People came from all over to these festivals but the crowds were smaller than at Dollywood. The crafts and food items were just as good or better than those in a large festival. This was proved by one of the churches.

Homemade apple butter cooked the old fashioned way is a huge draw for this church. Despite the cool weather the butter was cooked outdoors in a huge cast iron pot. The hot apple butter was carefully ladled into jars and allowed to cool.

The jars were sold during the afternoon auction. Those who were able to purchase were envied by the rest of us. Apple butter cooked this way has an unbeatable flavor. There isn't anything in the grocery store that comes close to the taste.

I haven't see it cooked that way before or since. The benefit of a smaller crowd meant actually getting to watch the full process. This remains one of my fondest memories of fall in Tennessee. What is your favorite memory? Let us know by leaving a comment.