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Column: The season of funnel cakes, mountain trips and beautiful leaves
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

“I sure would like a funnel cake,” my wife said to me last weekend. 

This is the season that we enjoy those wonderful delicacies normally found only at a fair or festival. This is the year that most of the fairs and festivals have fallen victim to the coronavirus.

Part of the fun of walking around a fall fair or festival is having something in your hand that is good to eat. Maybe not good for you, but good nonetheless.

Often, you can find a perch that with a mere turn of your head will yield a whiff of something that soothes your palate. Kettle corn, funnel cakes, roasted corn on the cob, boiled peanuts and any number of sweet or savory things.

If it had rained and was miserable, the loss of festivals might have been a less bitter pill to swallow. But we’ve had some beautiful fall days with lots of sunshine and just the right amount of autumnal crispness in the air.

A few years ago, we spent an October weekend in New England. A friend of mine from New Hampshire lives in a house that was built in 1790. George was president. Washington, that is, not Bush. If you’ve never made that trek, I highly recommend it.

We had breakfast in Woodstock, New Hampshire, where a guy has a local eatery with great pancakes topped with that season’s maple syrup. It’s a wonderful taste, but takes a little getting used to.

When we’re at home, we tend to make a loop this time of year. We go up through Clayton into North Carolina. After meandering around, we come back down the other side, through either Dahlonega or Cleveland. Our leaves are pretty, but a far cry from those beautiful maples of New England.

Our goal in many of our travels is to find the unique local restaurant, not some chain outfit. It may be quaint and lovely, or it may be a hole in the wall, but we have found some fine places that we would like to visit again.

Sadly, many places are completely closed or offer only a to-go menu. It’s been a tough time for the restaurant business everywhere, and I pray they will recover.

The aforementioned festivals helped fill hotel rooms, sell gasoline and bring people and their spending money to many little towns. We have a lot of places in the mountains and on the coast that depend on tourism revenue to bolster their local economy. 

I hope that as things return to whatever normal will be, my friends and neighbors will plan a trip to one of our treasured Georgia towns and contribute to improving their economic health.

I’m glad that the trees and their beautiful leaves did not close for business. It’s still a most enjoyable adventure to take a drive to the mountains and look at the fall color spectacle. Take it as a prelude to next year, when things will hopefully improve, and we will see the personal and community health of our state on the mend.​

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the weekend Life page and on