Flashback to June amidst a crowd of thousands of people in the blistering summer heat and there I am – black dress, black shoes, headed to work at Victoria’s Secret. The smell of typical street meat was enhanced and mixed with the smell of sweat and sewage. The sound of little children screaming as they slid down an inflatable and the blaring music from street vendors’ tents echoed in my ears.
At this time in my life, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. The mixture of diverse people all coming together in the middle of the street drinking, laughing and shouting was truly breathtaking. Not to mention the fact that incredible skyscrapers surrounded the scene, trying desperately to block out the blazing sun.
Oftentimes, I’d find a bench on the side of the street and just sit and watch the festival unfold around me. I’d watch couples hold hands and pick out Christmas gifts for relatives under the tents; I’d watch kids run between the feet of adults and get scolded for it; I’d watch friends laughing at each other while they all tried to gracefully shove whatever food they were eating into their mouths without dropping it.
At this time in my life, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Then I went to Oktoberfest in Ellicottville.
The drive there was something to marvel at in itself. The vibrant colors of red, auburn, yellow, gold and orange burned on the leaves of the trees. Driving between gigantic hills covered in these trees was like flipping through the pages of a children’s book, where the hills are colored in as different colored squares.
The hills not only looked as if they were on fire, but they smelled it as well. The car filled with the scent of a freshly struck match and the combination of sight, smell and sound of country music blaring was surreal. It was one of those moments where everything is so perfect that you know it’ll be a memory that will last forever.
The fall festival was a brilliant mix of flannel and plaid patterns. Men and women alike all donned a plaid, long-sleeved shirt, a puffy vest, a pair of jeans and boots. The smell of kettle corn filled the air and there were endless signs advertising apple cider. White tents lined the main street and all of the side streets. Music blared from tents serving beer and live bands competed for attention.
What amazes me the most about festivals is the amount of planning that must be done by all of the vendors. Almost all vendors at street fairs make their own products and the amount of time they must spend crafting each individual item astounds me. One woman had made forks into everything from rings to bracelets to hair barrettes. Another couple had hundreds of paintings showcased.
My favorite part about the festival though were the dogs. As a homesick college student, getting to go somewhere with an infinite amount of dogs is a dream come true.
Four hours of fur, fun and food later, the drive home featured the sun painting Cattarugus County stroke by stroke, from pink into red and red into orange.
Living in a city and living in the country are completely opposite experiences. Sometimes, they are so starkly different that it frustrates me to no end. I move at a city pace and I hate slowing down. Ellicottville cures that disease by making me stop and look around. Everyone needs a place or a person or an experience in their life that brings them back to reality and stops the world from spinning so quickly. For me, St. Bonaventure and Ellicottville are my speed bumps.