Embracing the fall

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Seems like at some point in our lives, we who are from Missouri -- and particularly the Southeast section of the state -- bemoan our uninfluential existence stuck in flyover country.

The national media always seem to ignore us. We're the butt of comedians' jokes, primarily comedians from either one of the coasts. And here we are, living our quaint little rural, backwoods lives in the cultural wastelands.

I used to think like they do. That was before I grew up.

You readers who also hail from Southeast Missouri can surely sympathize. When we're kids in school, it sometimes seems like Southeast Missouri is just so backward it hurts. We dream about what we'll do when we graduate high school -- "I'm going far, far away from here," I used to muse on fall afternoons like these in Bloomfield, Mo., county seat of Stoddard County, about an hour down the road on Highway 25 from Cape.

I couldn't see the forest for the trees (hopefully you can forgive that cliche, but it's rather appropriate here).

No longer.

This past weekend I did what any true Southeast Missouri resident is almost duty-bound to do this time of year. I got out of the apartment, packed up my gear and went out for a weekend of camping in the lovely woods of Southeast Missouri, this time at Sam A. Baker State Park. That's my kind of vacation, and I barely had to leave home.

Seems like these days, especially when those crisp fall evenings start making their presence known, I'm more and more content to live in Southeast Missouri -- a beautiful place with beautiful people and scenery.

So why do I tell you this? Why, as a reader of SE Live, do you care about Matt Sanders' complex and changing relationship with his homelands?

Because coming up this weekend, and on ensuing weekends as we progress into the best season of the year, towns, villages and counties all across Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois are stepping up to give you a good time. This is fall, and nothing epitomizes fall more than the small-town festival or county fair.

One of the best, most affordable and most authentic takes place this weekend, in the Perry County hills, in a little German village called Altenburg. Drive to Altenburg on Friday or Saturday and you'll see the East Perry County Fair, arguably the best example of a real country fair that still exists in the Southeast Missouri. By the way, the John D. Hale Band plays Friday night, and they're pretty good.

Meanwhile, Kaskaskia State Historic Site in Ellis Grove, Ill., will host its 18th annual Traditional Music Festival, where you can see Cape Girardeau native Liesl Schoenberger and others perform in the natural setting of the Mississippi River Hills.

Or check out a Civil War re-enactment in Iron County, Mo., at the Fort Davidson State Historic Site.

If you want to wait another week, you can check out the charms of Bollinger County, as Marble Hill, Mo., hosts the Bollinger County Fall Festival and Heritage Days.

Regardless of where you go, fall is here, and that means it's time to get outside. So go embrace the fall, and the culture that makes living in "flyover country" a better choice than that metropolitan lifestyle any day -- especially when autumn's in the air.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: