It's fall festival time even though we have very few leaves turning, warm weather, and my lawn looks as it did in mid-summer.

It's fall festival time even though we have very few leaves turning, warm weather, and my lawn looks as it did in mid-summer.
Fall celebrations are a very old custom. For centuries, people around the world have celebrated the fall harvest. Most of these celebrations were based on the people's thanks for the harvest, especially if the harvest was big.
The most famous festival in America is Thanksgiving that was first celebrated by the Pilgrims and their Indian neighbors. They didn't call it a festival or even a thanksgiving event, but they were happy and grateful to make it through the summer and be somewhat prepared for the winter.
Today's Thanksgiving is very different from the one the Pilgrims hosted, but the basic reason for the festival remains the same.
Often a fall celebration honors a special crop. For example, grape growing regions usually celebrate that fruit and its product, usually wine. Such crops as corn, potatoes, oranges, peaches, apples, pecans, cotton and rice are celebrated. In other regions, the celebrations were for every crop as people produced a wide variety of crops.
In my hometown in Oklahoma, we honored the watermelon, and had a three-day festival. In my day, we had mostly Black Diamond watermelons. Other kinds, especially yellow-meated ones, were consider only fit for hogs.
Today, you can find every variety of melon at the annual August festival. What a time I had as a kid at the watermelon festival. A carnival set up on the festival grounds and there was plenty of free watermelon. We also had a watermelon seed spitting contest, a watermelon toss and a contest for the biggest watermelon.
Local farmers enjoy the contest and the winning melon sometimes weighed 150 pounds.
Many celebrations have gotten away from honoring the harvest, probably because fewer people live on working farms. Most festivals have become, or were formed in recent years, as arts and crafts events. I guess the Farmer's Markets that have cropped up in recent years has replaced the festivals that honored our fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
Speaking of nuts. The black walnut market will open on October 1. It looks like there will be a bumper crop. Almost any place you look you can find black walnuts and they are mostly giant sized.
I think people are already gathering them to sell.
Picking up black walnuts is a great group project for a Sunday School class, a scout troop or a family. I look forward to seeing people out gathering this great resource. It does my heart good to know the nuts are being gathered and the gathers are putting some jingle in their pockets.


Kay Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.