There are probably a dozen reasons why fall is my favorite season. I love cool mornings and tolerable afternoons, baked goods with pumpkin, orange leaves, and, of course, my October birthday. “Herbst” in Germany isn’t quite like autumn where I’m from—goodbye Halloween, hello Oktoberfest—but a lot of things are more or less the same, and I’ve found a nice balance between old and new traditions.
Emma is a September baby. Shortly after her birth, Zach and I visited a pumpkin patch together for the first time. Wichita had several to choose from, and we especially enjoyed the one in Andover called Applejack. We continued to visit pumpkin patches with the kids until we moved, and it is genuinely one of things I miss the most about Kansas. The one in El Dorado had the best cheesecake. If I recall, they had pretty good pumpkin chili too.
While I imagine there are “pumpkin patches” to be found in Germany, I have yet to come across one. There is a massive pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg, but that’s awfully far from us, and we haven’t made it there yet. A much smaller festival takes place every September in a place called Massweiler, and that’s only around two hours away from us. The kids and I visited it last year with our friends, Rachel and Ellie, who have since moved back to the US. This year, our friends, Alicia, Landon, and Evie tagged along with us. Unfortunately, Zach has missed both years due to his work schedule.
The festival itself is held on what seems to be both a farm and a golf course called Hitscherhof. It includes a corn maize, plenty of vendors (selling everything from antiques to apples), beer (we are in Germany, after all), an outdoor market selling a variety of gourds, and most importantly, pumpkin soup. They sell pumpkin bratwursts and cold cuts, too, but the soup seems to be where it’s at. I question the authenticity of all these things because they aren’t tinged orange, but quickly remember that in America, canned pumpkin isn’t even pumpkin, it’s squash. It’s probably artificially dyed too.
The kids and I also shared a pumpkin waffle, and last year, I recall eating the pumpkin ice cream too. The festival was maybe slightly more organized this year with the introduction of food vouchers, but this meant waiting in line for ages to purchase tickets that could later be used to purchase food. I bought too many because I’m a poor planner, so the festival made an extra three or four dollars off me. I liked it better when I could pay at the counter, and dislike the voucher system which seems to be common at German festivals, especially for beverages. I like to be spontaneous. There’s too much planning involved in food vouchers.
After lunch, the kids each chose a pumpkin from the market. They were small and reasonably priced, setting us back by only a couple of Euro. We walked past the vendor booths and resisted the urge to buy everything, and my kids got their face painted by members of the German Red Cross before we decided to call it a day. The kids and I didn’t get back to our part of the Eifel until well after 6:30, and they promptly painted their pumpkins. All in all, it was a day well spent in beautiful weather with good company.
Maybe next year, Zach will finally be able to join us. The third time is a charm, right? I miss the Pumpkin Patches in America, but our fall traditions in Germany aren’t half bad.