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Harvest Festivals, Spooky Festivals, October Festivals

I find there are two types of festivals held in October. The creepy-crawly-spooky type meant to get you in the All Hallows Eve spirit and the apple pie-pumpkin patch kind. I love them all which means I’m in luck. Both kinds are happening around Monterey Bay the weekend of October 23-24.

If a cornucopia of harvest delights is what you’re in the mood for, there’s no better place to go than Wilder Ranch State Park. The park holds its annual Heritage Harvest Festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 23). Wagon rides, a pumpkin patch, cow pie bingo, hand-cranked ice cream, square dancing and bluegrass music make this an old-fashioned good time. Admission is free, but parking is $10.

Parents who want to take a break from pumpkin patches might find the Art and Craft Festival at Kennolyn (Oct. 23-24) to be more their style. Eclectic offerings from rustic folk art to digital photography make for early holiday shopping. Games, music and barbecue create family-friendly fun. Smokey the Bear will even be there with his fire truck! Though the fest is free, a percentage of the proceeds will help create scholarships to send disabled and disadvantaged children to camp.

On the spooky side, the Museum of Art and History holds its free annual Dia de los Muertos Festival from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on October 23. In Mexico and Latin America, families honor their dead on the Day of the Dead with colorful art, food offerings, dance and music. At the museum, art activities, dance by Xochipilli and music by ZunZun will have to suffice. The museum’s colorful community altar celebrates the lives of those who’ve passed on.

Creepy crawly touch tanks and candy corn relays bring the orange and black spirit to the Halloween Festival and Mask Making Workshop (Oct. 23) at the Louden Nelson Community Center. The 12 to 5 p.m. fest includes pumpkin decorating, costume relays and a guessing jar. Come in costume and parade through Laurel Park at 3 p.m.

No matter where you go on this festive weekend, you’re sure to have a magical time!


WHAT: Heritage Harvest Festival
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 23
WHERE: Wilder Ranch State Park. The park is located 2 miles north of Santa Cruz, on Highway 1.
COST: Free, but parking is $10
AGE RANGE: All ages
MORE INFORMATION: (831) 426-0505 or

WHAT: Art and Craft Festival
WHEN: 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Oct. 23-24
WHERE: Kennolyn, 8400 Glen Haven Road, Soquel
COST: Free
AGE RANGE: All ages
MORE INFORMATION: (831) 479-6700 or

WHAT: Dia De Los Muertos Festival
WHEN: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Oct. 23
WHERE: Museum of Art and History, 705 Front Street, Santa Cruz
COST: Free
AGE RANGE: All ages
MORE INFORMATION: or (831) 429-1964

WHAT: Halloween Festival and Mask Making
WHEN: 12 to 5 p.m. Oct. 23
WHERE: Louden Nelson Community Center, 301 Center Street, Santa Cruz
COST: Free
AGE RANGE: All ages

(Photo Credit: Copyright 2010 JK Mahal)

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