Ah, the Fall! If you ask me it’s arguably the best of the seasons with the changing of the leaves, sunny days and cool nights, not to mention the return of hearty foods and a celebration of everything pumpkin! This year Branson, Missouri’s Silver Dollar City theme park hosted the Harvest Festival Featuring Crafts & Pumpkins in the City—a month long event full of colorful crafts, incredible decorations, and delicious food offerings that placed a heavy emphasis on apple and pumpkin flavors.
Taking place from September 24th to October 30th, Silver Dollar City once again pulled out all the stops bringing fall fun and festive offerings to their charming park. We stopped by for a visit on Sunday, October 17th to see what they had in store this year and were immediately delighted at the colorful arrangements on display throughout the City.
Once inside the gates we were greeted by an enormous pumpkin tree (that I neglected to grab a picture of) stacked with rows of green and white, yellow, and orange gourds. There were also pretty pumpkin stacks and glowing jack-’o-lanterns with autumn-inspired designs such as leaves, spiders and more.
Full size pumpkin figure “sculptures” were placed outside shops and attractions with my favorite being the chef carrying a platter of pumpkins.
This year’s event also included Pumpkins in the City with clever displays that lit up at night to bring a pretty glow to the Pumpkin Plaza and Woodland Hike. Pumpkins in the City spanned The Grand Exposition into Fireman’s Landing all the way to the Rivertown Area with the Woodland Hike path connecting the first two lands.
Woodland Hike was decorated with large floating pumpkin Owls, festive Jack-’O-Lanterns and a unique campsite offering plenty of fun photo ops that were extra gorgeous at night.
As for the food, we once again purchased a $30 tasting passport that entitled us to 5 samples (and in some cases full servings) of more than 40 Harvest Festival speciality items. One passport was perfect for us as we split all of our samples and even brought two of them home. I’m actually polishing off our Pumpkin Spice Kettle Corn as I type! While you can purchase your passport online and pick it up at the park, we bought ours at Chester’s Kettle Chips, one of 3 restaurants/kiosks selling the Tasting Passports. Want to know what we thought of each? I thought so!
Sweet Potato Kettle Chips – Chester’s Kettle Chips
These crispy beauties could be served plain (why?) or topped with marshmallow cream (yes!). There was even a jar of cinnamon sugar for guests to season to their heart’s content. The chips were really good, but could have benefitted from some salt and more cinnamon sugar. This one was on us since the seasonings were right there and we could have added more. Being that the sweet potato was in chip form, it’s normally more pronounced flavor wasn’t as strong as we were expecting, but we did love the gooey marshmallow cream which really made the dish. If you’ve ever wished your sweet potato casserole had more crunch to it, kettle chips are the way to go!
Pulled Pork Sandwich with Pumpkin BBQ Sauce – Rivertown Smokehouse
Pulled pork isn’t exactly the most exciting food I can think of, but boy is it delicious, especially with pumpkin BBQ sauce. This thick and tangy sauce was an interesting blend of a classic condiment and seasonal flavor. Best of all, it came on the side so we could determine the sauce to meat distribution, and it came with one choice of side, and we picked white cheddar mac and cheese. This paired nicely with our sweet potato chips making for one perfectly shareable meal.
Pumpkin Cappuccino – Dumpkin’s Apple Shack on the Pumpkin Plaza
Ok, this was probably the most interesting of our samples. We knew it wouldn’t be a handcrafted cappuccino and assumed (correctly) that it was pre-mixed. When we got the drink it looked really thin and I thought they might have accidentally given us cider, but it was indeed the cappuccino. While it lacked a foamy head, it was delicious with a really great blend of spices that resembled pumpkin pie and even gingerbread, just the way fall should taste! It was a bit on the sweet side for our personal preferences, but it wasn’t sickly sweet. We’d definitely order this again.
Pumpkin Spice Kettle Corn – Frisco Popcorn Co.
For as long as I can remember, I have loved Kettle Corn! When we saw this on the list both of us were eager to try the seasonal offering that combines the traditional snack with fall spices. And, yes it’s as tasty as it sounds. The popcorn was crunchy and each kernel was covered with just enough of the sweet and spicy glaze. As with most kettle corn, the popcorn becomes a tad bit sticky, but this in no way ruined our experience. Best of all this generous “sample” serving was a regular size bag that easily could serve 5 or more guests meaning it’s a great treat to bring home. Another winner!
Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll – Eva and Delilah’s
Finally, as we made our way home at the end of the day, we stopped by Eva and Delilah’s for our last treat, the Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll. Fair warning, this baby was huge! When we got home we cut it into quarters and enjoyed one half that night and the other the next morning. The roll itself featured a classic cinnamon roll dough with pumpkin and spices added ensuring a chewy, bready consistency to complement the cinnamon filling. It was topped with a generous helping of cream cheese frosting that provided most of the sweetness. We warmed up our evening sample in the toaster oven which brought out more of the pumpkin flavor. In the morning we enjoyed the roll at room temperature and found it held up well overnight.
And last, but not least, while we were getting our cappuccino, on the Pumpkin Plaza, we enjoyed the last few minutes of the Jack-’O-Lantern Jive! The area was decorated with giant inflatable pumpkins, hay bales, and some photo op displays. Throughout the afternoon, team members would come out in costume and dance for guests. During our visit we watched the Silver Dollar City crew show off their “Time Warp” skills.
Checking out the Jack O’ Lantern Jive. There’s no wrong day to do the Time Warp! pic.twitter.com/95DdGqE8Tq
— LaughingPlace.com (@laughing_place) October 17, 2021
Once again, Silver Dollar City put on a great festival for guests of all ages and family sizes to enjoy. We’re looking forward to seeing what they do for winter holidays as An Old Time Christmas kicks off this November!