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The Journal Gazette

  • TourismOhio Pumpkins are shaped like a tree amid crowds at the Circleville Pumpkin Show in Circleville, Ohio, which attracts tens of thousands of people.

  • Associated Press Spectators watch as hot air balloons are prepared for their lift off during the 44th International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M.

  • Banner Elk Tourism Development Authority A child watches a caterpillar during the annual Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk, N.C.

Monday, September 11, 2017 1:00 am

Fall full of family fun all over nation

BETH J. HARPAZ | Associated Press

Looking for something more exciting than pumpkin spice to shake up your plans this fall?

Consider adding one of these audacious autumnal experiences to your calendar: a squirrel cook off in Arkansas, ukulele festival in Florida, caterpillar races in North Carolina or the annual wife-carrying contest in Maine. For the month of Elktober, you'll find randy elks bugling their mating calls in Colorado. Or perhaps you'd like to turn your feet purple at a winery grape-stomping event.

Here's a random sample of fall fun around the country from classics to events that are just a little bit wacky.

Yummy

Kentucky Bourbon Festival, Bardstown, Kentucky, today through Sunday, www.kybourbonfestival.com

World Championship Squirrel Cook Off, 8th Street Market, Bentonville, Arkansas, Saturday, www.squirrelcookoff.com/

World Chicken Festival, London, Kentucky, Sept. 21-24, chickenfestival.com (celebrates Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Sanders, featuring chicken fried in the world's largest skillet)

Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Sept. 27-Oct. 1, www.santafewineandchile.org

Truck Stop Food Truck Rally, Welton Street, Denver, Sept. 30, www.truckstoprally.com

Wild Mushroom Celebration, Long Beach Peninsula, Washington, Oct. 1-Nov. 15, www.wildmushroomcelebration.com

National Shrimp Festival, Gulf Shores, Alabama, Oct. 12-15, www.myshrimpfest.com

PA Bacon Fest, Easton, Pennsylvania, Nov. 4-5, pabaconfest.com

Creatures

Johnny Morris' Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium, Springfield, Missouri, opening Sept. 21,www.wondersofwildlife.org

Narrowsburg Honey Bee Fest, Narrowsburg, New York, Sept. 23, www.narrowsburghoneybeefest.com

Alpaca Festival, Buck Brook Alpaca Farm, Roscoe, New York, Sept. 23, sullivan catskills.com/event/national- alpaca-day-festival

Buffalo Roundup, Custer State Park, South Dakota, Sept. 29, gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer/events/buffalo-roundup/ default.aspx

Estes Park Elk Fest, Estes Park, Colorado, Sept. 30-Oct. 1,www.colorado.com/events/estes-park-elk-fest

Trailing of the Sheep Festival, Ketchum and Hailey, Idaho, Oct. 4-8, www.trailingofthesheep.org (includes parade of 1,500 sheep)

Woolly Worm Festival, Banner Elk, North Carolina, Oct. 21-22, www.woollyworm.com (two days of races featuring more than 2,000 woolly bear caterpillars)

Wacky

Purple Foot Festival, Casa Larga Vineyards, Fairport, New York, Sunday, www.casalarga.com/events/purple-foot-festival (grape stomping)

Susan B. Anthony corn maze, Stokoe Farms, Scottsville, New York, opening Sept. 23, kfdm.com/news/offbeat/corn-maze-at-stokoe-farms-honors-susan-b-anthony (maze depicts Anthony, the women's rights activist who lived in nearby Rochester, honoring 100th anniversary of women's right to vote in New York)

American Wife Carrying Championship, Sunday River Resort, Newry, Maine, Oct. 7, www.sundayriver.com/events-and-activities/events-calendar/north-american-wife-carrying-championship

Strummin' Man Ukulele Festival, Panama City, Florida, Oct. 13-15, www.standrewsukes.org

Return of the Pumpkin People, Jackson, New Hampshire, throughout October, www.jacksonnh.com/event/1233/Return-of-the-Pumpkin-People (displays of pumpkins dressed as people)

Pumpkin Nights, in Twin Cities, Minnesota; Auburn, California, and Salt Lake City, Oct. 13-Oct. 29, www.pumpkinnights.com (walking trail featuring hundreds of hand-carved, lit-up pumpkins)

Appalachian Mural Trail, towns along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, www.muraltrail.com (murals tell stories of communities along the parkway)

Classics

National Crafts & Cowboy Festival, Silver Dollar City, Branson, Missouri, Wednesday to Oct. 28, www.silverdollarcity.com/theme-park/Festivals/National-Harvest-Festival

Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, Cincinnati, Friday to Sunday, www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com/

Cranberry festivals: Warrens, Wisconsin, Sept. 22-24, www.cranfest.com, and Wareham, Massachusetts, Oct. 7-8, admake peace.com

Cruisin' the Coast, Mississippi Gulf Coast, Oct. 1-8, cruisinthecoast.com (antique and classic cars)

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Oct. 7-15, www.balloon fiesta.com

Great Vermont Corn Maze, Danville, Vermont, open through Oct. 15, www.vermontcornmaze.com (recommended arrival before 1 p.m. to get through massive, complex maze)

Circleville Pumpkin Show, Circleville, Ohio, Oct. 18-21, www.pumpkinshow.com

Bridge Day, New River Gorge, West Virginia, Oct. 21, officialbridgeday.com (participants leap, float and rappel from bridge)