Today’s weather pretty much exemplified autumn, so I went on a little fall extravaganza in Westmoreland County. I figured this would be a good way to cross Westmoreland off of the 15 in ’15 Surrounding Counties list, and I would also get a chance to spend most of the day outdoors. Win-win.
My first stop was at the Delmont Apple ‘n Arts Festival. I was absolutely shocked at the amount of people there, and I think the organizers were surprised as well – they ran out of parking! I had to park at a church about a half mile away in order to get there. No big deal for me, but I imagine older folks probably weren’t fond of that. The festival was so packed that it was difficult to move, so I made a [relatively] quick pass through and then found the food stands (of course).
The longest line was for homemade pierogies, so I jumped in that line. I got one spinach & ricotta and two potato & cheese pierogies, but I didn’t eat them until after I got home. Instead, I carted them around in a to-go box and headed for my next target – the apple barn and cider press. They were making fresh cider from the apples on-site. I had to stand in line for a while, but it was worth it – they were literally filling up gallons and dropping them straight into people’s hands. I think the only other time I’ve had cider this fresh was when we got a tour of a local farm when I was in girl scouts… so yeah, a really really long time ago.
With my cider in one hand and my pierogies in the other, I made one last stop before heading back to my car – the beignet stand. I wasn’t going to get anything, but then I saw that they were selling apple cider beignets, so of course I had to get some. You can’t say you see those every day, right? I ate one of them (delicious!) and then kept the rest for later. I have a feeling they’ll make a nice breakfast tomorrow and Tuesday, even if they will have to be reheated.
My next stop was Hanna’s Town. I hadn’t heard of Hanna’s Town until I started doing research for the Westmoreland leg of the Surrounding Counties series, but once I read about it, I was intrigued. It’s the site of a reconstructed 1700s village that was attacked and burned to the ground by Native Americans and the British in 1782, as part of the Revolutionary War. Before it was attacked, it was the first seat of Westmoreland County, and home to the first English court west of the Allegheny Mountains. I don’t know what I was expecting to see at the site, but I was a little lost. There really wasn’t much there. I visited the gift shop and saw a guillotine outside of the Hanna Tavern/Courthouse, and then saw the fort, blockhouse, and wagon shed, but there really wasn’t much to do there. It looks really cool, though, and maybe that’s the point. While I was there, I tried to imagine what it would be like in the late 1700s, without the paved road going through it. It was difficult, but do-able. I like that it made me imagine what life would have been like back then, without such modern “conveniences” as iphones, computers, internet, etc. Then again, I never would have found the place without those same conveniences, so you know, some things have changed for the better.
After Hanna’s Town, I stopped at the Bushy Run Battlefield. I ended up going on a little hike around the grounds, and ended up in complete solitude. Wasn’t expecting that, but it was cool. The grounds are gorgeous now, but they probably weren’t so pretty back in 1763 when a battle was fought there. The battle was part of Pontiac’s War, which I’d honestly never heard of until today. Apparently the Battle at Bushy Run was a big victory for the British, which allowed them to take control of the Ohio River Valley and the Northwest Territory. All of that, and it’s pretty much in my backyard, and I never even knew. Learning things like this is part of the reason why I wanted to do this Surrounding Counties series in the first place. 🙂
After I’d spent about an hour on the battlefield, I decided to make one more stop before heading home – Schramm Farms. Schramm’s isn’t a new-to-me place; in fact, I usually end up going there a couple times a year. It’s my quintessential “fall” place. I know that most people geek out about autumn and all that it brings (pumpkins, apples, lattes, boots, sweaters), but I’m not really one of those people. Fall is fine, but it’s a constant reminder to me that the next several months are going to be a nightmare of cold/wet/ice/snow/misery. I just don’t get all that jazzed about it. Sand, heat, and humidity are my things. However, when I go to Schramm’s, I’m instantly at peace with the idea of fall. It’s my version of the pumpkin spice latte – I don’t truly believe it’s fall until I’ve been on the grounds, surveyed the pumpkins, and grabbed a bushel of apples for applesauce. It was insane today, as Schramm is officially celebrating Fall Fest (now through the end of October), and it looked like everyone within a 30 mile radius got the memo. Maybe they just wanted to see the baled hay dressed up as Minions? I skipped the apples for now and instead headed straight for the bakery part of the market, where I bought myself a ‘whiskey and tobacco’ scented candle and an apple dumpling to take home. Tobacco-scented candles are my favorite these days – they remind me of one of my grandpas that passed away when I was five, and it’s an oddly “clean” scent, while it’s also a “warm” scent. (Tobacco in this case means pipe tobacco and not cigarettes. No way I’d have cigarette-scented candles. Gross.) And the apple dumpling? Well, between that, the beignets, and the gallon of cider, I plan on having diabetes by the time this week is through.
I didn’t get to see all of Westmoreland County today, but I did get to see some new-to-me sights, got to enjoy some local festivities and food, and even learned a few things. I’m considering this tour to be a success!