Harvest season yields the sweetest crops – and the best festivals. We recently told you about our favorite spots for leaf peeping and eating throughout the Northeast; now, we’re spreading the love a little wider. Fall means pumpkins, and pumpkins mean fun, so here are our top picks for festivals that pay homage to these plump, happy gourds from coast to coast. From good eats to spooky treats, there’s a little something for everyone.
Circleville, Ohio Pumpkin Show (October 18–21)
Just 25 miles south of Columbus, Circleville, Ohio hosts a stunning fall festival that draws 400,000 visitors each year. Dozens of amusement rides, arts and crafts, and amazing fair food are all part of the draw. But the seven parades – focused on babies, pets, bands, and more – are all worth watching, too. Who will be crowned Miss Pumpkin and Little Miss Pumpkin this year? And how much will th elargest pumpkin weigh? You won’t know, unless you go.
Great Pumpkin Farm, Clarence, New York (through October 31)
The Great Pumpkin Farm‘s first claim to fame came in 1996, when its inaugural World Pumpkin Weigh-off landed it in the Guinness World Book of Records for the first 1,000-pound pumpkin. Since then this festival has continued to grow with rides and events. It’s the perfect place for some wholesome fun, fresh cider, and warm donuts. If that doesn’t sound good enough, head over to Oinktoberfest, a barbecue cook off and beer garden, or enter one of the farm’s wacky contests.
Pumpkintown U.S.A., East Hampton, Connecticut (through October 31)
Pumpkintown U.S.A. is cheerful village of pumpkin people with painted faces full of personality. Open for six weeks each fall, this totally non-scary spot is fun for families or curious visitors – who now come from all over the world to visit. Stroll through this old-fashioned country village, which includes a restaurant, saloon, jail, and church, then hit the Harvest Shop for handmade butters, spreads, candles, and more. Kids will also love the games, face painting, and bounce house.
Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm Pumpkin Fest, Lockport, Illinois (through October 31)
Good old-fashion fun is what you’ll find at Cottonwood Farm’s Pumpkin Fest. This fourth-generation family farm in Lockport, Illinois offers hayride tours of the farm where you can hop off and pick your own pumpkin right off the vine. Dozens of other attractions include zombie paintball, a 15-acre corn maze, a haunted barn, a massive trampoline field, and a visit with farm animals, plus tons of seasonal food.
Craven Farm, Snohomish, Washington (through October 31)
In 1983, Craven Farm created the first pumpkin patch in their region, with a vision of helping kids and families understand the importance of farming. Since then, their fall festival has developed into an agri-entertainment business that has kept the farm economy sustainable, even in uncertain times. Today, the 20-acre pumpkin patch, multiple corn mazes, mini-golf, and loads of other fun and games have delighted locals and tourists alike.
Jack-o-lantern Spectacular, Providence, Rhode Island (through November 5)
This incredible spectacle brings 5,000 carved pumpkins to the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island. Artfully and intricately designed, collections of pumpkins are grouped into themes such as dinosaurs, the ice age, Egypt, Rome, and the history of technology. New this year: A soaring zip line that takes you 115 feet in the air to view the entire event.
Autumn at the Arboretum, Dallas, Texas (through Nov 22)
The Dallas Arboretum is a gardener’s dream, and this stunning fall show has become a nationally acclaimed event, with 4,500 chrysanthemums and 150,000 other fall-blooming plants. This year’s theme, “The Wonderful World of Oz” brings Dorothy and her friends to the arboretum’s Pumpkin Village, with fantastical houses and displays made from more than 90,000 pumpkins, squash, and gourds.