Salem Harvest Fest and Haunted Happenings

What an evening!  We went to the Salem Harvest Fest today, which takes place during Haunted Happenings in Salem, MA.  We were supposed to leave at 4pm, and I made sure that Chris knew this before he headed into the office to play catch-up/keep-ahead for the week.  So, 4 o’clock… no Chris… I gave him a call and found out that he had lost track of time.  I kind of expected this, so in hindsight I’m wondering why I didn’t give him a reminder call around 3:30pm.  I guess because I didn’t want to treat him like a baby – he is a professor, after all, and he should be able to remember something like what time to be home, right?  Especially since I’d told him only 6 1/2 hours earlier.  But then I remember that my lovable, goofy husband is constantly compared to the absent minded professor by myself, my family, his family, and our friends.  So, yes, I should have called to remind him at 3:30 – that’s what wives are for, right?

Anyway… we left around 4:20pm, hit Boston traffic (of course) and got there about 20 minutes late.  All in all, not too bad.  The trip was made even more enjoyable by the fact that I didn’t have to drive and was able to chat with my mom.  We talked all the way up to Ted Williams tunnel, where I lost service.  We got into Salem, found parking pretty easily, and started exploring.  It looked so promising!  Driving in on Essex Street there were street performers, actors walking around in period costumes, little children with caramel covered apples holding tightly to parents’ hands, and adorable doggies dressed up in Halloween costumes.  We walked past the Visitors Center and hung a right into the main square.  Lots of cute little booths and food stands were set up, with signs advertising for palm readings and spirit boxes right next to signs advertising hot dogs, fried onions, and fried dough.  Everything smelled wonderful, like a mix between cooking food, powdered sugar, and burning leaves.  Mmmmm 🙂  And the weather?  Perfect – cool, crisp, and sunny.

We got to the Harvest Fest, which was held inside The Gathering building.  This is where things started to go somewhat awry.  The building was jam packed, with a police officer standing right in the entryway.  Even though we had bought tickets in advance, we still had to stand in line like everyone else.  Once we got inside, I was literally walking around with my arms tucked up to my chest, bumping and brushing past complete strangers.  Chris was kind of moseying around, but I was wanting to get up to the booths and start tasting some of the wines!

After laboring for about 5 minutes, we arrived at the first booth, where a guy looked at me blankly and said “Whaddya want?”.  Needless to stay, we didn’t linger there for long.  We tasted one of the artisan beers, then hastily proceeded to another spot with a much more cheerful, albeit harried-looking woman.  We were served a great-tasting rose, but it was so loud in there that neither of us could hear what it was.  We proceeded to the next booth and were waiting in line when a girl decided to toss her appetizer plate into the garbage can next to me.  Cheese and crackers all over my shoes (at least it wasn’t the wine, right?).  Smiling, I picked it up and put it in the garbage.  To her credit, she was very sweet and apologetic, thanking me for the help.  I smiled at her again, told her it was fine, that it was really crowded inside, and that I didn’t mind one bit.  She agreed with me about the cramped quarters, then offered to let Chris and I squeeze ahead of her and her boyfriend.  This was really nice considering that they were only 1 person away from the booth.  So, we squeezed in, tasted a Zinfandel, and went across the room.

When I say that we went across the room, you’re probably imagining that we just walked across the room.  Huh uh.  It took us about 5 minutes to cross a room that was probably no more than 25 feet wide. We once again got in line for another booth.  Chris was really excited about this one, since they had a wine that he had been wanting to try.  We waited, and waited, and waited.  And waited.  People would get up to the booth and just park themselves there, having a chat with the server.  He was probably the nicest server we’d seen up to that point, which was actually a bad thing because it encouraged people to linger.

After about 10 minutes of waiting, the people in line with us were starting to get restless.  A slightly-past-middle-age brunette in a purple coat and her husband were being quite vocal, loudly complaining that people were being jerks and needed to move out of the booth.  Unfortunately, these people were right behind me and Chris.  Then, they were right beside us.  They, they were trying to squeeze in FRONT of us.  All this time, she and her husband had been loudly grumbling about how rude people were being and how they paid $40 and were going to get their money’s worth.  Then they dispay bad manners by trying to edge in front of us.  I just looked at this couple, then looked at Chris, and leaned over and whispered in his ear “Can you believe these people?”  He looked over at the woman and just shook his head.

Well apparently, the woman had bionic ears because she then turns to me and starts lecturing me, telling me how she is just trying to get some wine and she is going to get some and step in whenever or wherever she can.  Then, she kind of gives me this piggy-eyed look and says, “Fine, go ahead of me!  Please, just go!”  Her husband is simply glaring at me.  Of course, the entire area is standing room only, so there really isn’t any place for me to go.  I’m thinking to myself, “Hmm, lots of people + warm temperature + alcohol + bad attitude = ugliness about to erupt”.  I decided that the safest option was to ignore her, and within a few seconds Chris maneuvered things so that he was next to this woman and I was safely ensconced between him, a wine barrel, and the wall.  My knight in shining armor 🙂

We finally made it up to the booth, had a very brief drink of some sparkling blueberry-grapey wine stuff (again, not sure what it was – too loud to hear), and decided that we’d had enough.  Chris took my hand, and after asking him to lead the way, he “charged” through the crowd.  About 5 minutes later, we were on the street (thank goodness).  Keep in mind, this building was not large at all.  As we were getting our bearings, who comes walking out but the purple coat lady and her husband!  Gasp!  We did an about-face and started heading in the opposite direction.  I’d had enough of them for the night!

We were so glad to get out of that crowded space, and compared to it, the streets of Salem seemed almost deserted.  We meandered around for a bit, checking out some of the booths, stopping in at a pet boutique, and eventually ended up at a wine store on Church Street called Salem Wine Imports.  It was such a great store!  Doesn’t it look amazing?

photo from www.salemwineimports.com

The owner was really nice, conversational, and helpful.  And he didn’t make fun when he found out that I prefer sweet wines (usually when a wine store employee hears that I like sweet wines, they kind of switch from talking seriously and intelligently about wine to treating me like I’m a little girl).  He made some really great recommendations, and we ended up getting three bottles.  When we got home I did a search to see if they had a website and was excited to find that they do, along with a blog called “Salem Wine Talk”.  I will definitely be adding it to my list of blogs to check on a regular basis!

As for the wines we got, I can’t wait to try them.  I picked a bottle of 2007 Chateau de Lancyre Pic Saint-Loup Rose, a bottle of Nashoba Valley Winery Cranberry-Apple Wine (for some local Massachusetts flavor), and to top it off, a bottle of 1999 Chateau Pajzos Tokaji.  The owner highly recommended this Hungarian wine, and if I remember correctly, it scored a 95 out of 100 points.  Again, I can’t wait to try all of them!

To wrap up the evening, we decided to grab a bite to eat.  We asked the Salem Wine Imports owner for a recommendation, and he suggested the place directly across the street – Lyceum Bar & Grill.  Eager to try it out (and get some food!) we headed across Church Street.  Unfortunately, the wait was around 2 hours, and our stomachs were growling!  We walked around a bit more, eventually calling it a night and heading home.  Even though we had that rather negative experience with the purple-coated woman, all-in-all, we had a really fun time.  In the future, I think we will head to the street fair much earlier in the day, around 2pm.  And we definitely want to revisit Salem.  When we do, we’ll be sure to check out Salem Wine Imports again and try to get in lunch at the Lyceum 🙂  I’m already looking forward to it!

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