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Football, festivals and foliage

Starting last weekend, there has been a nip in the evening air and in the mornings when I go out to get the paper. The mums are ready to burst forth in brilliant displays of color and some leaves are starting to turn.

Happily this mean that means fall, my favorite time of year, will be here in just a few weeks.

For me, fall means football, fall foliage, festivals and more football! You can’t beat the smells and sounds of fall at a Friday night football game: the freshly cut grass, hot popcorn and the marching band. It doesn’t get much better. Well, maybe tailgating before a Saturday afternoon college game comes close.

I try to package a weekend family football getaway with multiple events. By combining a festival, historic tour, art show, walk in a state park and ball game you satisfy varied interests. How could I forget to add in a round of golf or two?

But if it is a family vacation, the clubs will stay at home.

There are plenty of activities and events within an easy day’s drive that allows you to craft a little mini vacation. I apply this same approach in the winter months but add a hotel with an indoor pool to the equation.

For an example, let’s head over to Parkersburg W.Va. on Sept. 18 to catch the Harvest Moon Arts & Crafts Festival and to tour the Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park.

That evening, head across the mighty Ohio River and attend a Division 3 Ohio Athletic Conference football game between Muskingum University and Marietta College. If you have never been to a D3 game, you are in for a treat. These are non-scholarship players that are playing for the love of the game.

The Parkersburg-Marietta region has a wealth of activities for all ages and members of your group.

Some selections that I’m including on my itinerary are the Fenton Art Glass Museum, the Ohio River Museum and the Campus Martius Museum.

Campus Martius, a civilian fortification, was built in 1788 by the Ohio Company of Associates. When the fort was disassembled, General Rufus Putnam left his blockhouse on the original fort site.

In 1931, Campus Martius Museum was erected over the Rufus Putnam House. The Ohio Company Land Office, the oldest known building in Ohio, was also moved to the museum site.

Today, the museum preserves the history of America’s migration west, its earliest native inhabitants and Marietta’s pioneers.

Time and routing permitting, we are planning on driving Washington County’s Quilt Barn Tour on Sunday morning as we work our way back to Ironton.

These self-driving quilt barn tours are increasing in popularity and appearing all across the country.

The area boasts two classic hotels, Parkersburg’s Blennerhassett Hotel and the Lafayette Hotel over in Marietta. You also have access to many national brands, locally owned hotels and quaint B & Bs so there’s a choice for any budget.

Designed in classic European style the Blennerhassett has been serving guests since 1889 and is a downtown landmark.

From its elegant rooms and fine dining to unprecedented hospitality and state-of-the-art technology, The Blennerhassett provides business and leisure travelers an excellent choice of accommodations and facilities.

Right across the Ohio River is one of the last riverboat-era hotels the Lafayette.

It opened on July 1, 1918, and was named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, who visited the city in 1825 at a site near the hotel.

With its distinctive triangular shape, the hotel offers guest rooms with views of either the Ohio or Muskingum Rivers, whose legendary flooding a half-century ago is indicated on benchmarks in the lobby.

To get your vacation planning started I suggest that you check with the state’s tourism office then work down to the desired area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and/or Chamber of Commerce’s tourism office for a schedule of events and activities.

These folks provide a wealth of free information and services so they are a great resource.

As the summer winds down have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend!