Pumpkin Weekends showcase fall in all its glory
Sweet as it is, the fall season is just too short. The brilliant colors of autumn leaves burst onto the scene suddenly, only to be whisked away on the next windy day.
A beautiful starlet of a season, autumn flashes a quick wink, and then she's gone as fast as you can say snow.
So at every opportunity, we indulge ourselves, regaling in spectacular views of blazingly vivid colors while enjoying fresh-pressed apple cider. We show our enthusiasm with festive decorations and dress our children in ghoulish costumes, both fun and frightening.
Fortunately, the Fox Valley Park District makes this glorious season last a little longer with its annual Pumpkin Weekends at Blackberry Farm. During every weekend in October plus Columbus Day 11 days in all fall is in its full glory.
Already, the leaf-peepers are on alert, eager to witness nature's dazzling transition from green to gold to orange. The pumpkins are fat and firm. The chilly nights and football tailgate parties confirm that fall is here.
You just can't get too much of this, which is why Pumpkin Weekends were created.
"We used to do a fall festival in October each year, and it was so popular and well-received that we expanded the event to include every weekend," said Sandy Smith, facility supervisor at Blackberry Farm.
Considering that fall harvests go back to the times of pioneers when locals would toast another bountiful growing season Blackberry Farm is the perfect setting for this kind of celebration.
From pioneer days to modern times, the same sense of community lives on with Pumpkin Weekends. The kids will delight in the interactive games and wonderful displays; adults will feel the tinge of youth, reminiscent of their own childhoods.
"We don't have the powers of Mother Nature," said Smith, "but we're doing everything we can to make this season last just a little bit longer."
Each weekend will feature a special theme and one low admission price ($4), starting with the Pumpkin Fun Run/Walk on Saturday, Oct. 2, a noncompetitive, child-friendly stroll around scenic Lake Gregory, surrounded by the contrast of shimmering fall colors and rich evergreens.
Pumpkin activities are the theme on Oct. 9, when kids can decorate masks, make bird feeders from pine cones and enjoy pumpkin-centric games.
The scarecrows come out on Oct. 16 and 17. On Oct. 16, staffers will conduct a scarecrow decorating class for families, school groups and Scout troops. At the end of the weekend, they'll take home their works of art.
The final two weekends Oct. 23-24 and Oct. 30-31 are reserved for traditional favorites. A trick-or-treat walk will be held before the park opens each Saturday. Costumed visitors will make their way around to nine trick-or-treat stations, followed by a costume contest.
It's a great warmup for Halloween, which falls on the final Sunday of October.
If you're feeling creative, take a train ride and visit the pumpkin patch at Blackberry, purchase your own pumpkin and beautify your creation right there at the special decorating station.
I suspect most of those pumpkins will be wearing broad smiles.
Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District. For more information on Pumpkin Weekends, call Blackberry Farm at (630) 892-1550.