Chalk Art Festival
Downtown Yakima; 11 a.m. to
3 p.m. Saturday; 509-571-1328
Here's a chance to unleash your child's creativity and end up with a fleeting-but-fun work of al fresco art.
The third annual Chalk Art Festival in downtown Yakima is exactly what it sounds like: Your child can grab a free piece of chalk and start drawing whatever suits his or her fancy on the sidewalk along North Third Street, between Yakima Avenue and Staff Sgt. Pendleton Way.
The theme is Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), but any images or interpretations are welcome, said Andrew Holt, executive director of Downtown Association of Yakima, which is sponsoring the festival.
"We're encouraging kids to have a great time with chalk," he said.
The event is also for serious artists, which creates a nice combination, Holt said. "There will be more elaborate pieces of art, and at the same time kids can have a good time and be inspired."
This year, North Third Street will be closed to traffic on that block during the event for increased safety.
Union Gap Corn Maze
and Pumpkin Patch
3213 Tacoma St. in Union Gap; 4-9:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 4-11 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays, through Oct. 31; 509-453-3200, www.ugcornmaze.com
Haunted or quiet, scary or wholesome — there's a long and winding maze for children of all ages.
This October stalwart offers a 12-acre corn maze for folks who crave a challenge, and a smaller one, an acre and a half, for younger children.
And there's more: a pumpkin patch, hayrides and games. Kids who like to climb can clamber up a straw pyramid and slide down.
But what really gets freaky for older kids is when the big maze becomes haunted each night starting at 7 p.m., complete with people in scary garb, wielding axes and the like, popping out to scare helpless wanderers along the narrow paths.
"It's our most popular activity," said one of the site's three owners, Lewis Gress, who has been operating the corn maze and pumpkin patch in Union Gap for 14 years.
New this year is "Friday Night Frights," with two scary movies showing each Friday all month. The first, at 7 p.m., is rated PG; the second, at 9 p.m., is PG-13.
For those who tend toward the squeamish, there are plenty of places to gather round the fire pits to warm up and listen to the distant howls.
Visitors can bring their own food to roast on the fire pits; hot dogs, nachos and sodas are for sale.
Admission, good for all day and evening, is $10 for ages 3 and older.
Fall Colors Walk at Snow Mountain Ranch
2262-2648 Cowiche Mill Road in Cowiche; 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 21; 509-248-5065, www.cowichecanyon.org
While the trails off the Snow Mountain Ranch trailhead never close, fall and spring are especially beautiful seasons to visit. And a guided trek such as the Fall Colors Walk will offer more insight into the lands preserved by the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy.
The guided walk is free, and distances and hikes of varying lengths are available that day, when trained guides will lead you around the Snow Mountain Ranch trail system.
Walks are family-friendly and geared to all ages and abilities. Meet in the parking lot at the check-in station at 10 a.m. Volunteers will be on hand to help guests choose the best trail and distance for what they hope to accomplish that day.
Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and layers of outdoor clothing for variable weather. Bring sunscreen, water, binoculars and a camera.
Speaking of cameras, another guided walk will take place at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 4. David Hagen will lead a photography hike from the Weikel Trailhead off North Weikel Road. You can reach North Weikel Road and Cowiche Mill Road by heading west out of Yakima on Summitview Avenue.
Cowiche Canyon Conservancy owns and manages 5,000 acres and offers close to 30 miles of trails.
History, culture, artifacts
at Fort Simcoe Historical State Park
5150 Fort Simcoe Road in White Swan; 509-874-2372,
Take a fall drive past the mint and hay fields, grazing cattle and small towns to an outpost dating to before the Civil War, surrounded by land revered long before. Remote and serene, Fort Simcoe Historical State Park in White Swan is a symbolic reminder of what settlement of the West meant.
Kids can see what life was like in the late 1850s at a military fort; there are several buildings to tour or peek into (the stockade is always a favorite) and an interpretive museum. A short trail, play equipment and a picnic shelter also beckon.
Plus, the 200 acres provide a major animal migration area; cougars, elk, black bears and wild horses have all been spotted here. Looking for something tamer, kids might enjoy finding the colorful Lewis's woodpeckers, which dine on the pear trees, and the quirky California quail.
Fort Simcoe encompasses three distinct phases. There was the pre-fort era, when it was a meeting place considered sacred by several different tribes. Then the fort was built in 1856 as a bulwark against any discord that might erupt between Native Americans and settlers.
After the fort closed three years later, the buildings were turned into a boarding school for Yakama children, which many attended but not by choice.
"It's worthwhile to go there," said Lem Pratt, Goldendale area manager for Washington State Parks. "There's a story behind the story," he said. "The unwritten story is the backdrop, and it hasn't really been told. It's significant to the Yakamas."
Pratt said visitors could find the artifacts and history interesting. But others might see the fort as an intrusion, he noted.
The day-use park is open 8 a.m. to dusk Wednesdays through Sundays until Oct. 31, when it closes until April 1. Park Ranger A.J. Barney may be available to give tours and talk about what the area means to the Yakamas.
A Discover Pass is required to park, or a one-day pass can be bought for $10 on site.
9535 Old Naches Highway in Naches; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends, groups by reservation Tuesdays-Fridays; 509-653-2589,
So you want to see a pumpkin cannon in action? And you missed cheering for the racing pigs at the Central Washington State Fair? Thompson's Farm offers both.
Located in the northeast corner of Naches, the family-
owned farm specializes in tree-ripened fruit. But this time of year, kids and families swarm the place for pumpkins and related fall fun.
The pumpkin patch is open to the public on weekends through this month; groups can make reservations Tuesdays through Fridays. Reservations aren't needed on the weekends, and there are no group discounts on the weekends.
Admission is free, and that includes seeing the pumpkin cannons fired on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the pig races that usually follow the cannon firing. There are charges for the corn maze, children's play area, hayrides, pumpkins, homemade doughnuts and other treats; those prices vary.
More homegrown and homemade goodies are available at Thompson's Farm Market at 9950 Highway 12, across the road from Slim's Market.
October Days at Washington Fruit Place & Gift Shop at Barrett Orchards
1209 Pecks Canyon Road in Yakima; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays through October; 509-966-1275,
Drinking apple cider hand-cranked from a 130-year-old press, riding a hay wagon through a 20-acre orchard, building your own scarecrow (from old clothes and a burlap bag) and running through a hay maze — what's not to love for a child in the fall?
Washington Fruit Place & Gift Shop at Barrett Orchards offers that and more during October Days. Events are free, though donations are accepted for the hayride and maze. Materials for scarecrows cost $9.95, or builders can bring their own old clothes.
"We try to make it family-
friendly," said manager Mackenzie Karn. "We gear things more toward younger kids. They love the pumpkin patch, and there's ice cream, too."
Hayrides are the most popular activity, she said. Picnic tables allow for winding down, and there's plenty of fruit for sale in the gift shop.
The Barretts have hosted October Days for about 15 years. "It gets bigger every year," said Karn.
Bill's Berry Farm
3674 N. County Line Road, Grandview; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays through October; 509-882-3200,
It's Apple and Pumpkin Festival time. And when it's Apple and Pumpkin Festival time, there is a lot happening here.
Visitors can wander through the corn maze and enjoy a leisurely hayride, indulge in hot cider and pumpkin doughnuts, roast some marshmallows over a bonfire and bite into some recently harvested apples. There's an animal farm, pony rides and a barnyard train.
This Saturday, in addition to the fall activities normally available during apple and pumpkin season, the Baduku Middle School African Marimba Band from the Tri-Cities Steel Drum Band Association will perform. Free demonstrations on how to make a fall centerpiece are set for 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. in Berry Park.
Gate admission to the farm is free; there is a $5 parking fee on Saturdays. Parking is free on Fridays.
Noble Animal Sanctuary
140318 W. North River Road in Prosser; open by appointment; 509-554-8894, www.facebook.com/nobleanimalsanctuary
This Benton County organization is one of the newer 501(c)(3) animal rescue nonprofits in Central Washington. Founded in August 2015, it offers "forever homes" to animals rescued from neglect, abandonment or abuse, with a focus on those from farms.
Michelle Allgaier-Jones and her partner, Greg Noble, recently held a Fall Celebration and Open Tour.
Their 10-acre property, which includes vineyards and fruit trees, is open for groups and individuals who make appointments to visit with the dogs, cats, donkeys, horses, pigs, cows and other critters.
"All of them are characters; they all have distinctive personalities," said Allgaier-Jones.
The sanctuary is open by appointment and hosts tours.