By Polly Keary, Editor
As leaves begin to turn red, store displays turn orange and black, and the Sky Valley celebrates the season with fall festivals and Halloween events.
Here is a guide to fun things to do this month, as well as the best places to find Jack O’Lantern pumpkins and get lost in a corn maze.
Sky Valley Farm Festival
This Saturday, Oct. 13, take a trip back to a time when the lower Sky Valley was mostly a farm community.
The 4th Annual Sky Valley Farm Festival offers everyone a chance to visit three local farms on lower Fern Bluff Road, riding from farm to farm on wagons towed by volunteers from the Heritage Museum Tractor Club.
At the Rivers End Cattle Ranch, which rests along the Skykomish River, visitors can ride horses, take a guided wagon tour, swing on ropes in a hayloft, learn to rope, and see displays about farming. While there, get a hearty lunch served by the Sultan Education Foundation; the proceeds go to fund scholarships and classroom grants.
Kids will enjoy getting to visit Miss Pig Pig, a newcomer to the annual festival this year which appears courtesy of the R Heritage Farm.
At Groeneveld’s Dairy Farm, a third-generation dairy farm, kids and adults can get a good look at where milk and cheese comes from. There will be tours and information booths, as well as a chance to see daily milking at 4 p.m.
And at Stockings Garden and Nursery, shop for pumpkins, treat the kids to a stroll through a corn maze, get some locally-grown veggies and learn how to cook them from on-site chefs Gordon MacDonald and Mimi Stockmann. Also enjoy demonstrations on canning and cheese making.
Bambooland Pumpkin Patch
For the first time this year, Bambooland, a Monroe bamboo plantation with more than 60 varieties of ornamental bamboo, offers very affordable pumpkins. Photo courtesy of Bambooland One of Monroe’s best kept secrets is the dream-like 100-acre bamboo plantation across U.S. 2 and just west of the Reptile Zoo.
While the swaying forests of bamboo and the many options for ornamental additions to your landscaping are reason enough to go, this year the farm is also a source of very affordable pumpkins.
For the first time, the owners have dedicated five acres to pumpkins, which are lying out in the field in rows, waiting for you to come explore the field. Wander freely, visiting the emus and baby cows on the way out to the fields, or for a fun and easy way to find the perfect pumpkin, pony up a dollar for a hayride. Pick out a nice big pumpkin or two small ones for just $5.
While there, visit the gift shop to find beautiful lamps, bowls and other items made of exotic hardwoods by farm owner Ron Anderson.
Bambooland is open seven days a week year-round, but the pumpkin patch and hayrides will run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Halloween. Weekday group tours and access are available by appointment.
Festival of Pumpkins, Snohomish area
Each year, six Snohomish pumpkin farms team up to offer fall fun, and this year, they teamed up to raise money for local non-profits, as well. Each chose a Snohomish County Charity, and between Sept. 17 and Oct. 5, they competed to see which farm could get the most people to like them on Facebook.
For each “like” they got, they donated $1 to that charity, up to $1,000. At the end of the contest, Stocker Farms was announced the winner, having gotten 1,518 “likes.” A donation of $1,000 was made to the Special Olympics.
Monroe’s own Matthew House, a non-profit that provides support and hospitality to the families of prisoners in Monroe’s correctional complex, received $457 from Bob’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch. Workers from the five losing farms have to work on the winning farm for a day. The six farms are:
Stockers Corn Maze & Pumpkin Park, 8705 Marsh Rd., Snohomish
Fish for trout, wade in a corn crib, walk in a giant “people wheel,” fire a pumpkin cannon, ride in a barrel train, jump on a giant pillow, watch duck races, take a hayride, and much more. Also get lost in a corn maze and learn about how differences are a good thing with a visit to Spookley the Square Pumpkin, based on a book of the same name that carries an anti-bullying message.
The park is open weekends, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through October. http://www.stockerfarms.com.
Bailey Vegetables & Pumpkin Patch, 12711 Springhetti Rd., Snohomish
Come here for lots of kids’ activities and lots of seasonal treats. Kids will like the rope swings, hay maze, roping area, hay run, toy tractors, corn maze and more. Everyone will like corn on the cob, kettle corn, hot dogs, popcorn, caramel apples and hot cider. Pick more than pumpkins; this farm has corn, squash, gourds and other veggies.
The farm is open daily, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. through October, with holiday entertainment weekend hours of 10 a.m.-6 p.m. http://baileyveg.com.
Bob’s Corn & Pumpkin Patch,10917 Elliot Rd., Snohomish
More than a pumpkin farm, Bob’s is open through Nov. 4 with a family-friendly spook-free corn maze, 15 reservable fire pits, a vegetable store and a country store with lots of homespun goods like apple butter and relishes. There are hay rides, a corn cannon, pony rides, face painting and a trike shack, as well as lots of roasted corn. www.bobscorn.com.
Carleton Farm Produce, 630 Sunnyside Blvd. S.E., Lake Stevens
Near Ebey Slough in Lake Stevens, find wagon rides, slides, a hay mound, a pumpkin cannon, lots of food, and after dark, a haunted swamp. A corn maze is open daily through Halloween from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Haunted Swamp is not for kids under 12. For hours and ticket prices see http://www.fright-maze.com.
Craven Farm, 13817 Short School Rd., Snohomish
Ramble through a 15-acre corn maze, visit farm animals, take a tractor-towed hayride, test your aim on the pumpkin-slinger, get your face painted and grab some kettle corn or other goodies at the snack shack.
Open daily through October, 9:30 a.m. until dark. http://www.cravenfarm.com.
The Farm at Swan’s Trail, 7302 Rivershore Rd., Snohomish
Catch a fish in the fishing pond, pick apples in an orchard, catch a Four Little Pigs show or cheer at the duck races, jump on a giant pumpkin-colored pillow, wander a giant corn maze cut in the shape of Washington State, and pick up an espresso or treats at the on-site bakery. Open daily through Halloween, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. http://www.thefarm1.com.