By Jillian Smith
Youngstown wears her seasons well. In the summer, the warm nights are accompanied by festival music and the sizzling of an incredible swath of ethnic foods being grilled or fried or broiled. In the winter, our Christmas parade and subsequent tree lighting would warm any “grinchy” heart. In the spring, Fellows Riverside Gardens bursts into life with stunning arrays of some of the world’s most carefully cultivated floral species. I contend, however, that Youngstown and her surrounding areas do no season better than fall. With the Autumnal Equinox being in one week, I present to you: The three major reasons why Youngstown is made for fall.
- We Are Beautiful
One view you must see this fall is the reflection of many brilliantly colored, orange, red and yellow leaves in a near perfect mirror image on Lake Glacier in Mill Creek Park. When paddling a kayak in the lake, seeing the waterfall and the fiery spires of trees in the crisp fall air is something downright majestic. If you can’t get enough of that view, and are up for some physical activity, run in the Peace Race, another famous fall tradition for the Valley. The Peace Race is the longest continuously held race in Youngstown. The event goes through some of the most breathtaking trails in Mill Creek Park just at that time that the bite of fall begins to give the park’s carpet of leaves its crisp, Oct. 23. The 10k race was started, and continues 46 years later, with the intent of bringing runners from around the world together as a symbol of unity and peace.
- We Are Delicious
Whitehouse Fruit Farm is the obvious first recommendation under the category of delicious fall experiences. Located slightly outside the city in Canfield, they offer the most delicious blueberry doughnuts, homemade fudge, make-your-own caramel apples, old fashioned candy and 10 cent apple cider. All this cements the place as a hands-down local fall favorite. Other delicious fall picks include the sauerkraut at Kraut Fest, hosted by Haus Orchard and Cider Mill on Sept. 24 and 25. Haus offers cider pressing all September, which you can make as you shop for locally grown cabbages, pumpkins or apples. To round off local fall sumptuousness, the Johnny Appleseed Festival, happening in Lisbon on Sept. 17 and 18 features anything made of apples you could imagine: dumplings, fritters, cider, butter and ice cream. While only the pies are judged officially, nearly all of the food could stand up to competition.
- We Are Artsy
Youngstown is a town of immense artistic talent. One of the great fall happenings in Youngstown that you may have never considered is the opera. If you think opera is only for hoity-toity fancy folks, think again! Tickets are as low as $20 for Opera Western Reserve’s production of Carmen happening on Nov. 11. If you aren’t sure you want to dive into opera all the way, head over to the Soap Gallery’s “An Evening in Spain.” The event, co-hosted by Mahoning Valley Young Professionals on Sept. 16, is a chance to hear some of the music being performed by the Young Artists of Opera Western Reserve while snacking on tapas, sangria and beer and getting a feel for what opera is all about. On the other end of the spectrum, is our plethora of Maker’s Markets open for the fall season. Head over to the Youngstown Flea on Sept. 24, the Boardman Rotary October Festival or the B&O Night Market.
Whether you are a Youngstown lifer or are just arriving on campus for the first time this semester, there are always new places to explore in our city and surrounding area that are full of hidden gems. While there are many such gems all year long, some of the best you’ll find if you follow this list happen in that magical little chunk of time between September and November.