Foliage Season Upon Us
The calendar has now officially turned to autumn, but the summer season for the tourism industry in western Massachusetts was already long gone. Once the leaves start changing color, many businesses now are hoping to see green.
The Berkshire town of Lenox wasted no time ushering in the harvest season this year, holding its autumn street festival, called the Apple Squeeze, on the very first day of fall. Many other autumnal events are coming hard on its heels.
For towns making their bread and butter on tourism dollars, there are only a few precious weeks when so-called leaf peepers are out and about, enjoying scenic vistas of peak foliage.
Lauri Klefos of the Berkshire Visitors Bureau -- or B-V-B -- says autumn is not only the Berkshires' second busiest time of year, but peak season is dramatically compacted.
"30 percent of our visitors in a very short period of time, when foliage conditions are good—mid-September to mid-October. So when I think about the differences between the seasons, I also say think about summer for four months, and autumn is a short window but a huge audience."
Klefos says the foliage report is the most visited section of the BVB website, and prospective visitors are attuned to the nuances of the season, whether it's a particularly good year for foliage or a weaker one.
Still, the prospect of leaves changing color has a built-in, dependable audience, according to Sam Bartlett, president of the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum.
"I suspect if there's newspaper articles about how lousy the foliage is this year, then people are going to not bother getting out. But I think a lot of people know that if it's a nice day, it's a nice day, and the hills are usually pretty for a while."
The peak foliage forecast varies throughout New England.