The temperatures change, the leaves fall and the activities gear up — fall is here! Across the Bay Area, there will be some seriously fun not-to-miss festivals that will get you and your family in the sweater weather spirit of fall. Get ready for pumpkin patches, hayrides and great family fun.
Wesley Chapel Fall Festival
The GROVE at Wesley Chapel
6105 Wesley Grove Blvd.
Wesley Chapel, FL 33544
Dates: Oct. 12-13, 2013
The Wesley Chapel Fall Festival will take place on October 12 and 13 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at The Grove at Wesley Chapel. Between hayrides, a LiL’ Mr. and Miss Pumpkin Patch contest and the ‘Battle Of the Wings’ contest, the entire family will relish the day. There will be live entertainment, arts and crafts vendors selling their unique creations, interactive craft activities for kids and an antique car show the whole family will enjoy. Don’t forget to check out the beer garden where adults can purchase and sample some delicious beers from some of the area’s most popular microbreweries. All types of foods will be available from the many food vendors.
5th Annual Sarasota Pumpkin Festival
Sarasota County Fairgrounds
3000 Ringling Blvd.
Sarasota, FL 34232
Dates: Oct. 25-27, 2013
If you can’t get enough live entertainment, the Pumpkin Festival is the place to be with over 100 free shows to choose from. Kids’ shows will feature ‘Steve the Pretty Good,’ who will be performing his popular children’s songs like “Amazing Flying Carpet” and “Are You as Funny as a Monkey?” Other performances will include live bands, thrill shows, animal shows, gymnastics shows, martial arts demonstrations and so much more. The young and young at heart will also enjoy fun activities and exhibits such as pony rides, carnival rides and games and a costume parade, among numerous others. The Pumpkin Festival takes place from October 25 to October 27.
701 Bayshore Drive N.E.
Tampa, FL 33701
Dates: Nov. 8-10, 2013
Ribfest, which takes place November 8 through 10, is Tampa’s most cut-throat rib-cooking competition. This family-friendly event features plenty of activities, including a children’s play area with plenty of fun things to do and some special guests like Sponge Bob and Dora the Explorer. Ribfest will also host some national touring bands playing classic and southern rock as well as country hits. On Saturday and Sunday, there will be a classic car and truck show and additional fun activities for kids in the Family Fun Zone hosted by Great Explorations Children’s Museum. Of course, the main attraction is a competition for amateur chefs cooking up their best recipes for fall-off-the-bone ribs, all in an attempt to win a cash prize.
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Pumpkin Festival at Hunsader Farms
5500 County Road 675
Bradenton, FL 34211
Dates: Oct. 12-13, 19-20 and 26-27, 2013
The Pumpkin Festival runs on the last three weekends in October and has been a family tradition for 24 years. Known for its seven-acre corn maze, the Pumpkin Festival attracts thousands of people across the bay area for its “on the farm” experience. Young and old alike interact with the farm animals as they mosey along beside you while the family wanders the giant farm. You can also expect to see local bands at the main stage, rows and rows of booths full of arts and crafts and a yearly Civil War reenactment that is fun and safe for the entire family. There are also plenty of food options for even the pickiest eaters near the main stage.
32819 Pennsylvania Ave.
San Antonio, FL 33576
Dates: Oct. 19-20, 2013
The Rattlesnake Festival will return to San Antonio for its 47th annual weekend of entertainment on October 19 and 20. The festival is free to attend, but the famous Snakes Alive snake show, as well as the reptile show, cost $5 for adults and $2 for children under 12. If you’ve got a crippling case of ophidiophobia, don’t worry – you can still have a great time at the festival. You can also expect to see a gopher race, arts and crafts, live entertainment, wildlife exhibits and tons of delicious food – no snakes allowed.
Amanda Mole has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil and cooking since she was tall enough to reach the stove. She believes that food provides more than just vital nutrients: it is an irreplaceable part of countless cultural and social activities. As a Tampa Bay resident for the past 21 years, she is well acquainted with the incredibly diverse range of restaurants, bars, and food festivals that the area has to offer. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.