When the leaves start showing off their colors and the pumpkins start appearing on porches, you know it’s time for a Branchlands Senior Living tradition: the Fall Festival! Held out in the warm sunshine in the space between the Manor House Independent Living and Linden House Assisted Living communities, the 2022 Fall Festival brought residents and families together for an afternoon of fun.
Music and a Shared Meal
On October 20th, as friends and family members greeted each other and chose their seats, Matthew O’Donnell, also known as the Blue Ridge Bard, stepped up to the microphone to start his set. Playing an assortment of Celtic folk music and switching between an accordion and a variety of stringed instruments, he gave a lively performance while Fall Festival attendees started their meals.
The staff had prepared a meal of delicious seasonal fare, laid out beside decorative multicolored corn and gourds. At a series of long tables, people enjoyed a communal meal full of toe tapping and lively conversation.
Best of all, family members visiting from near and far sat with their loved ones. Voices mingled with the music, sharing jokes and reminiscences and thoughts about the day.
“The music is great!” (Carol, Independent Living resident)
“They have a wonderful assortment of food. We started out with a chowder, and each got a plate of different desserts. And now an ice cream truck! I’m having a chocolate éclair right now, and it’s wonderful.” (Betty, Assisted Living resident)
A Pie Toss and a Cakewalk
It’s not a celebration without some festive activities, and so Scoot Stovall, Branchlands Director, found himself sitting behind a narrow table, with his head poking out from a protective plastic poncho while a resident strode steadily closer.
“Let’s go, Bill!” came a shout from the crowd. Then others took up the chant: “Go! Go!”
Bill, a long-time Branchlands resident, hefted the pie, testing its weight, then swung it forward. The crowd let out a cheer as the pie tin dropped away to reveal Scoot’s face, now layered with whipping cream.
While the next resident came forward to meet Scoot’s good-natured challenge (“Bring it on!”), a dozen others walked around a circle of numbered chairs to take part in the cakewalk. When the music stopped, they did, too, each hoping they might be the lucky one.
“This is for the pumpkin pie,” the woman running the cakewalk called out. “Is anyone at the 6? Oh, my goodness, Mrs. Davis…!”
A Good Excuse to Gather
Jon Waugh, Director of Business Development, explains that the Fall Festival is simply “a great opportunity for both communities to be together and have a great time. It’s also a great event to bring family members to visit and do something special with them.”
As the attendees mingled with family members, greeted old friends, and retold favorite stories, Lola, a black Lab and therapy dog, made her rounds, bringing delight wherever she went. She even added her pawprint to one of the Branchlands’ trees where residents had been adding leaves marked with their fingerprints.
Eventually, people began to disperse, heading on to the next activity or back home for a rest, and Scoot and Jon, along with the other Branchlands staff, began the cleanup for another successful event.
“They really outdid themselves this year.” (Sue, Assisted Living resident)
“This is our third Fall Fair. It was a wonderful event. They put a lot of heart into it.” (Carol, Independent Living resident)
What It’s All About
“If you bat your eyes, you’ll miss something.” (Ruth, Assisted Living resident)
Branchlands provides a home, which means a place of relaxation and comfort. Yet we know it’s equally important that there’s always plenty to do. From yearly traditions like the Fall Festival, to the daily activities for residents, we always present plentiful opportunities to our community members. After all, it’s the daily events and interactions which keep all of us, at any age, feeling young.