“Fall is a busy time of year at many of our parks, particularly those that offer fall festivals and Halloween themed weekends,” said Michele Wisher, vice president of marketing for Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems, Inc., which franchises Jellystone Parks across the U.S. and Canada.
While fall events vary by park, activities can include carnival games, scarecrow making contests, bobbing for apples, wagon rides, pumpkin decorating and even Mexican fiestas.
Halloween themed weekends typically include costume and campsite decorating contests, trick or treating, and Monster Mash dances. Some parks also offer haunted trail walks while others have haunted houses.
“Many of our parks offer at least two or three Halloween themed weekends and some have as many as five or six,” Wisher said.
Here is a sampling of fall activities at Jellystone Parks across North America:
— Holmes County, Ohio: October is the biggest month for fall activities at this park. An Apple Dumpling Festival Weekend is set for Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 with hay rides, a corn maze, local crafters and on-stage entertainment. Other activities include apple butter making, Mrs. Saurer’s Famous Apple Dumplings and an apple smoked barbecue. A haunted corn maze will also be in operation every weekend in October. There will also be campsite decorating and costume contests and trick or treating each weekend as well as fall arts and crafts, Halloween crafts, wagon rides and pumpkins.
— Brandon (Sioux Falls), S.D.: In addition to offering Halloween themed activities in September and October, this park has a seven-acre corn maze with an easy section for young children and a more difficult section for teenagers and adults. Activities include a “Mutts in the Maze” event on Oct. 4, when furry friends are allowed into the maze. A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the Sioux Falls Humane Society.
— Eureka, Mo.: This park will have four consecutive Halloween themed weekends beginning Sept. 9 – 11. Activities will include costume and campsite decorating contests; Halloween crafts; trick or treating and a haunted trail.
— Nashville, Tenn.: This park will have Halloween themed weekends during the second two weekends of October. Activities include costume, campsite and pumpkin decorating contests, fall crafts and trick or treating.
— Pittsfield, Ill.: This park will have a Mexican fiesta on the weekend of Sept. 23 – 25 when campers will be able to create their own maracas, swing at a piñata and compete in the “Hottest Chili Pepper Contest.” There will also be a “Fiesta Potluck.” Halloween themed weekends take place Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 and Oct. 7 – 9 and include costume contests for adults and children; a campsite decorating contest; painting of the Witches House, a haunted trail maze, and a Witches House bonfire. On Oct. 14 – 15, the park serves as a base camp for the Pike County Fall Color Drive (www.pikeil.org), a countywide event that encourages visitors to drive down country roads dotted with historic one room schoolhouses, country churches and fall color.
— Quarryville, Penn.: Fall activities at this park include a Carnival Weekend Sept. 16 – 18 with pony rides, cotton candy, popcorn, a bean bag toss and other games. This park also offers five consecutive Halloween themed weekends starting Sept. 23 – 25 with “no scare” activities. Special costume contests will also be held on subsequent weekends for the best werewolf costume on Sept. 30 – Oct. 2; best zombie costume on Oct. 14 – 16; best ghost or goblin costume on Oct. 21 – 23; and the best witch costume on Oct. 28 – 30.
— South Haven, Mich.: This park will have a Harvest Weekend on Sept. 16 – 18 when campers can make their own caramel apples and apple sauce by the campfire. Warm caramel apple cider will also be served. This park will also offer five consecutive Halloween themed weekends beginning Sept. 23 – 25 with campsite decorating as well as pumpkin carving and scarecrow contests; trick or treating with Yogi Bear; and a “Terror in the Park” haunted house.
— Swansea, S.C.: This park offers six consecutive Halloween-themed weekends starting Sept. 23 – 25. The first three weekends will be “no scare” weekends with a magic pumpkin patch and other activities for families with young children. The remaining three weekends will have scary activities and attractions, including a haunted house that is set up inside an old barn. The haunted house is equipped with animatronics and staffed by roughly 20 actors.
— Wichita Falls, Texas: This park will also have four consecutive Halloween themed weekends in October. But in addition to having costume and campsite decorating contests each weekend, this park will have a “no scare” weekend Oct. 7 – 9 with Halloween games; the park’s first annual Halloween carnival on Oct. 14 – 16 with caramel apples, kettle corn and hot apple cider; a zombie themed weekend Oct. 21 – 23 with a zombie costume contest, a zombie run, a zombie laser tag hunt and a zombie dance party. The weekend of Oct. 28 – 30 will include a “very scary talent contest.”
For more information on fall activities at these and other Jellystone Parks, please visit www.campjellystone.com.