First, because any fun family outing starts with excellent logistics, let’s cover those. First, get all the details like tickets, times, etc, here.
Parking is plentiful, and free. Remember your row designation so you can find your car later. Not that anyone NEEDS that advice, but erm… there you are. Restrooms are portajohns, and lots of them. You’ll find you’re never far from one. Shade is scanty and all of the activities are in the sun. Do not forget sunscreen, and do a better job of applying it than I did. (“What did you say? You want a back rub? Sure!” Me: “AAAAAAAAH. NO. I said ‘be careful, I have sunburn on my back!'”) Outside food and drink are allowed, but if you prefer you can purchase food and cold drinks once you are inside the festival. Remind your three year old before you go that he is not a goat, and may not go live with them no matter how cute they are. Wait. No, that’s just us. Remember to charge your batteries and take an empty memory card- there are a LOT of photo opps.
Ok! Now that you’re planned, packed, and set to have a fantastic time, you’ll want to pick up your fall festival passport.
The passport is like a “to do” list of the high points of the fall festival, and my kids loved using the self-stamping stations to fill it out as we completed each activity. (Heads up: the stamps are the same at all stations, so if you want to skip the line, for instance, when the hay ride lets off a load of passengers, just go to another station and use the one there.) My big kid also liked reading the passport to select our next stop, and then finding it on the map.
The plentiful signage and posted maps will help you find your way around the activities. The festival area is pretty large, and you’ll do a fair amount of walking. We brought our jogging stroller, because even though my three year old can walk quite well and has boundless energy, he also likes to make detours, like running up the nearest hill slide. (Not cool, little man! Not cool at all!) There are a bunch of those, by the way, in small, medium, and large to suit every age and adventure level.
The stroller also prevented him from running off to go back to his herd and begin his new life as a goat. The goats are among the animals your kid can feed, pet, touch, meet, and talk to. I don’t think climbing under their shelter and trying to live among them is actually encouraged, but my guy really enjoyed it.
He was glad to be a human when we got to the corn maze, though. (At least, I think so. I didn’t let him out of the stroller for the photo op with the giraffe, just in case.) The forest of downspouts was our favorite. We named it the “car wash.” This was my kids’ first time using a funhouse mirror, too, so hilarity ensued. (Does this mirror make my sunburn look big?)
And, don’t forget the hayride. (It actually is pretty bumpy.)
By now, my camera battery was dead and my cell phone was not far behind. This is partly because I don’t always take my own advice and make sure to charge them fully before we leave, but it was mostly because we had been having fun for four solid hours already. (I think I just told you to clear your schedule and plan to stay all day. That’s what it sounded like.) When you have wrung as much fun as you possibly can out of your visit, or, more likely, when you are tired and you have to go home even though you’ve only done about half of all there is to do, you exit through the market stand. You can purchase goodies to take home, and every wrist band gets to pick out a patch pumpkin.