The sky seems a bit bluer, and the air surely feels a bit brisker. At this time of year, there’s something to be said for just sitting quietly and watching the leaves turn color, but with all of the activity surrounding the peninsula’s autumn harvest, it would be a shame not to reap some of the fun. The days are getting shorter – make the most of them.
Of course, some of the best places to celebrate the harvest season are bound to be orchards and farm markets. After toiling for months to tend their plantings, area farmers are seeing the fruits of their labor, and they’re ready to share the bounty with the rest of us. Orchard Country’s Fall Harvest Celebration (on September 30th) is the culmination of a long season for this hardworking winery/market/orchard. The whole family will find plenty to enjoy – live music, food and refreshments, trolley and wagon rides, children’s activities, pumpkin bowling, pick-your-own apples, and great door prizes. This is the second year Orchard Country will be hosting the Harvest Celebration, and word is, there will be even more tents to visit than last year – and they’ll conduct free winery tours and tastings all day long, too.
For two consecutive weekends (October 1st and 2nd, and October 7th and 8th), Schartner’s Farm Market will be offering horse-drawn wagon rides through their pumpkin patch. And throughout the fall season, little ones will become engrossed in riding the straw Tricycle Track, and exploring the maze cut into the field at Wood Orchard (which just might make shopping for apples a whole lot easier for the big folks).
It’s also no surprise that apples are actually the “guests of honor” at a few local events. Seaquist Orchards’ barn is overflowing with delicious varieties of apples at the end of the harvest, and their Apple Festival (on October 7th) is overflowing with more appealing diversions each year. Enjoy live music, fresh kettle corn and lots of other tasty treats. Paint your own pumpkin, make your own caramel apple, or kick back and watch a movie about Johnny Appleseed. Let the kids burn off some energy with the two-story indoor straw maze, giant rope maze or pedal carts. While you’re there, definitely test your skill – and possibly win a prize – by launching a few apples at the targets set up in the orchard.
By now you’ve eaten some, and maybe even launched a few, too. Ready to try something else? Check out the Cider Pressing Party and Fall Festival at the Washington Island Farm Museum October 7th and 8th. You can expect to find horse-drawn wagon rides and plenty of fun games for children. Plus, if you bring some apples, you’ll be able to try your hand at making your own cider with a fantastic antique press.
Or maybe you’re intrigued by the prospect of making your own scarecrow. The fourth annual Scarecrow Festival at Garden Angels is scheduled for September 30th and October 1st. This family-oriented “day in the country” is always filled with great entertainment, food, refreshments, games and crafts – but the main attraction is definitely the scarecrow contest – which anyone can enter, and everyone judges. Each year, more and more completely original and ingenious entries show up and are displayed along the paths behind the barn. The contest (which awards three cash prizes) is free to enter, and any materials can be used in creating the scarecrows, but interested parties should call Garden Angels to enter ahead of time (so they know how many “bodies” to expect).
If you’re looking for a different sort of challenge, visit Schopf’s Hilltop Dairy to navigate their intricate Corn Maze. The entire maze, when viewed from the air, creates a detailed picture that changes each year. But on the ground, there are actually three distinct mazes of varying lengths and difficulty levels, making it appropriate for all ages and abilities (and because the paths are packed down, moms with strollers can make it through, too). It’s perfectly acceptable to wander aimlessly, but maps and punchcards are provided at the beginning. If you’re goal oriented, you’ll use the punchcard and try to locate all of the checkpoints as efficiently as possible – there are some major prizes at stake. Schopf’s Corn Maze is open throughout the month of October, and it’s worth keeping in mind for a second visit later in the season. Toward the end of October, a section of this impressive labyrinth is transformed into a Haunted Corn Maze.
Speaking of spooky, don’t miss Peninsula State Park’s Annual Spooktacular Hike on the evening of October 7th. Take a self-guided hike along an easy mile-long candlelit trail, and meet a variety of campy characters – bats, giant spiders, friendly witches – oh my! But fear not, this annual stroll along Skeleton Street and Pumpkin Alley is “ghoulish, but not gory” fun for all ages. And, for more frightening fall fun, reserve your seats for one of Door County Trolley’s newest offerings – the Ghost Tour. Some of the peninsula’s most spirited locales are on the itinerary, and the tour runs nightly in the days leading up to Halloween (October 20th through the 30th). Hear haunting tales of sunken ships, lighthouses with ghostly inhabitants and many other mysterious Door County happenings.
But there’s no mystery here: If you want to do something fun that also does some good, there are two annual autumn events in the area that make play of raising money for worthy causes. Stop at Hands On Art Studio to take part in Art Day For Animals throughout October 7th and 8th (and only minutes down the road from Egg Harbor’s Pumpkin Patch celebration). While you’re there, enjoy lots of free activities like pumpkin painting, scarecrow making, pumpkin bowling, and hayrides in the woods. Kids will absolutely love exploring the two-story hay playhouse, petting and feeding llamas and goats, or taking a pony ride. Everyone will enjoy sampling the corn roast, fresh apple cider, and the live music of Veugeot, a Minnesota recording artist performing her original songs about animal rights.
But don’t forget the reason for it all – paint a ceramic tile for All Creatures Home For Animals, a local non-profit shelter, and the entire cost of the tile ($3) will be passed on to All Creatures. And, your tile will become a permanent part of the Hands On Silo Project. (As tiles are painted for All Creatures, they are used to decorate the exterior of the towering silo behind the “Art Barn.”)
It’s easy to have fun helping the people in our community, too. Don’t miss the Sunshine House Corn Festival on September 9th. Proceeds from the event will support Sunshine House, Inc., a nonprofit agency that serves adults of all abilities in a vocational setting. The Corn Festival takes place at Schopf’s Hilltop Dairy, so a cruise through the corn maze is in order. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you can enter the sweet corn and cherry pie eating contests, or just have some lunch and enjoy the live music and old-fashioned games. There are lots of ways to make a difference – for $2 per item, you can bring an antique to be appraised at the entertaining Door County Antique Road Show. You can also purchase creative scarecrows donated by local artisans, or even build your own.
Without a doubt, there’s plenty to do “in the Door” during the fall season. Much of the activity is scheduled to avoid conflicting with other happenings, so there truly is a constant flow of exciting events. So hit them all, or just harvest your favorites.
Fall Harvest Events At-A-Glance
Plan your harvest season – contact the following businesses and organizations for more details about the events listed below.
SUNSHINE HOUSE CORN FESTIVAL
Schopf’s Hilltop Dairy, 5169 County I, Sturgeon Bay, (920) 743-9779,
BAILEYS HARBOR AUTUMN FEST
Arts & crafts, live music, antique car show, bake sale, raffle, food and refreshments in the Baileys Harbor town center. Baileys Harbor Visitor Information Center, (920) 839-2366 or www.baileysharbor.com
WASHINGTON HOTEL HARVEST FEST
Stop by for a free sample of Island Wheat (a new brew from Capital Brewery crafted from wheat grown on the island). Relax on the sprawling lawn and enjoy the music, along with a brat made from island-raised beef. Washington Hotel, Restaurant & Culinary School, 368 Rangeline Road, Washington Island, (920) 847-2169,
SEPTEMBER 22nd, 23rd & 24th
Ephraim’s Musical Equinox
Door County’s finest musicians fill all corners of downtown Ephraim for a weekend chock full of live, local, acoustic music. Ephraim Visitors Information Center, (920) 854-4989, www.ephraim-doorcounty.com
Sturgeon Bay Harvest Festival
Stroll Third Avenue in Sturgeon Bay for a full day of fun. Arts & crafts show, car show, farmers market, food booths, music and entertainment, trolley rides, hayrides and children’s activities. Sturgeon Bay?Visitor?&?Convention Bureau, (920) 743-6246, www.sturgeonbay.net
ORCHARD COUNTRY’S FALL HARVEST CELEBRATION
Orchard Country Winery & Market, 9197 Hwy 42, Fish Creek, (920) 868-3479,
SEPTEMBER 30th & OCTOBER 1st
GARDEN ANGELS SCARECROW FESTIVAL
Garden Angels, N6695 Highway 42, Algoma, (920) 487-2530
SEAQUIST ORCHARDS APPLE FESTIVAL
Seaquist Orchards, 11482 Highway 42, Sister Bay, (920) 854-4199,
Peninsula State Park, 9462 Shore Road, Fish Creek, (920) 868-3258, www.dnr.wi.gov
OCTOBER 7th & 8th
EGG HARBOR PUMPKIN PATCH FESTIVAL
Fun for the whole family – in Harbor View Park and throughout the village – all weekend long. Check out the scarecrow/pumpkin displays and vote for your favorite. Lots of children’s activities, outdoor entertainment, prizes, food & refreshments, too. Egg Harbor Visitor Center, (920) 868-3717, www.eggharbordoorcounty.com
OCTOBER 7th & 8th
WASHINGTON ISLAND CIDER PRESSING & FALL FESTIVAL
Washington Island Farm Museum, RR#1 Jackson Harbor Road, Washington Island; Washington Island Chamber of Commerce, (920) 847-2179, www.washingtonislandchamber.com
OCTOBER 7th & 8th
ART DAY FOR ANIMALS AT HANDS ON ART STUDIO
Hands On Art Studio, 3655 Peninsula Players Road, Fish Creek, (920) 868-9311,
OCTOBER 13th, 14th & 15th
SISTER BAY FALL FESTIVAL
A sea of people fill the main drag each year for children’s activities, food booths, arts and crafts, helicopter rides, live entertainment, fireworks – and the legendary Ping Pong Ball Drop. A parade takes place on Saturday. Sister Bay Information Center, (920) 854-2812, www.sisterbay.org
OCTOBER 20th THROUGH 30th
DOOR COUNTY GHOST TOUR
Door County Trolley, (920) 868-1100, www.doorcountytrolley.com