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Events to fall for: Area harvest fests, pumpkin patches promise hours of autumn fun

File photo Families pick pumpkins at Uncle Ray's Pumpkin Patch in New York Mills last year.

Crisp autumn days have arrived, and preparations for area harvest festivals are well underway.

Whether it's roaming the treasures at a fall flea market or carving a pumpkin, the harvest season brings plenty of opportunity for fun, for young and old alike.

Uncle Ray's Pumpkin Patch - Sept. 29

This coming Saturday, flock to Uncle Ray's Pumpkin Patch for its 11th annual event.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., children are invited to walk the fields and pick out their perfect pumpkins. Lunch will be served through the noon hour.

The pumpkin patch is located at S&S Vineyards, 2.5 miles north of New York Mills on County Highway 67.

This annual tradition gives neighbors a chance to catch up with one another, said S&S Vineyards owner Brian Sillanpaa.

Sillanpaa said close to 3,000 pumpkins have been given away in years' past. This year's crop seems to be average, offering plenty of pumpkins to go around.

As the pumpkin picking festivities wind down, the band Hillside Creeps, out of Minneapolis, will perform in the barn throughout the afternoon and evening. Patrons will be welcome to sample some of the vineyard's wine.

The annual celebration is held in memory of Sillanpaa's uncle, Ray Sonnenberg, who began the tradition. All events are offered for a free will donation.

Perham Harvest Fest - Oct. 6

On the first Saturday in October, crowds will fill the streets of Perham for the seventh annual Harvest Fest, which is expected to be even bigger than last year.

Activities will be taking place all around town.

Many things will be going on up and down Main Street. The Antique Road Show will be back this year from 10:30 a.m. to noon and again from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. For $5 per every two items, an antique appraiser will determine whether those items are treasure or trash.

Magician Mike Steele will be strolling up and down Main Street throughout the day, entertaining all with the tricks up his sleeve. Sherwin Linton Band will be performing from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. downtown, and many food vendors will be available.

Family-friendly activities will take place in the turtle park, near the post office, until 4 p.m. Children's games, face painting, bobbing for apples, a petting zoo and inflatable bounce houses will be just some of the things kids can partake in, free of charge.

Also at the park, kids will be able to bring a pumpkin, or pick one up for $1, to be used for pumpkin carving, painting and bowling. Some prizes will be given away. Carving tools will be available for a minimal cost.

On 2nd Street, the Perham Area Cruisers will host a Show and Shine Car Show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Behind Blossoms, Birds and Beyond, two flea markets will open at 9 a.m. From arts and crafts to antiques and collectables, the outdoor market promises to have something for everyone.

Also behind Blossoms, Birds and Beyond, kids and adults alike may enjoy watching professional chainsaw carver Charlie Kirchenwitz, from Dent, as he takes on various wood carvings from 10:30 a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Helping people get around town to all the activities, Perham's train shuttle service will be running from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, call Kathy Gould at 346-7550.

Ottertail Pumpkin Festival - Oct. 20

The 12th annual Pumpkin Festival in Ottertail will be held on Saturday, Oct. 20 from noon to 3 p.m.

Outdoor activities will be going on around downtown, including a highlight of the event, the Pumpkin Weigh-Off.

The weigh-off will be held this year in the parking lot of the community center. It will begin at noon and various prizes will be awarded. Besides the biggest pumpkin, the ugliest pumpkin will also be chosen. No preregistration is required for those who want to compete; simply show up with the pumpkin at 11 a.m.

Kids may also register for a chance to win one of four free bicycles.

Inside the Williams Company Store, kids can get their faces painted and carve pumpkins.

Food will also be available, with grilled brats and pumpkin deserts provided by the Methodist Church Ladies.

Some of the events are available for a free will donation. All money raised will be donated to Friends of Friends Fighting Hunger in Otter Tail County.