- Written by Nancy Nichols with Kim Sharpe Nancy Nichols with Kim Sharpe
Discover a cornucopia of festivals in northern Colorado
Fall is a fabulous time of year for enjoying harvest and heritage festivals as a family. If you are looking for a fun weekend getaway, look no further as northern Colorado has some of the best festivals of the season.
Fall festivals enjoy a rich history in this area and across the nation. Traditionally many festivals sprang up during this time of year as a result of farmers coming together to help each other harvest their crops. Think corn in the Midwest, pecans in the South, cranberries in the Northeast and chili peppers in the Southwest.
Residents of many agricultural communities still help each other during harvest season, and for the rest of us, regional festivals help keep the tradition strong by giving non-farmers an excuse to join in the fun.
Of course, Americans everywhere celebrate the mighty pumpkin this time of year due to its close association with one of our nation’s most hallowed holidays—Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is in fact a wonderful example of a traditional fall harvest festival. This special day for family get-togethers and sumptuous feasts dates back to 1621, when the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians on the East Coast came together to celebrate a successful harvest for which the Pilgrims were especially grateful after a terrible year filled with sickness and scarce food supplies.
You can still find harvest festivals throughout the nation, including here in northern Colorado. Additional reasons to celebrate this time of year include traditional German Oktoberfests and other festivals related to the changing of the seasons and brilliant displays of fall color in the landscape.
Whatever your reason for seeking out a festival this fall, you will find a wide selection of family-friendly activities in our region. Most of the events listed here are quite close by, easy to get to and entertaining for family members of all ages.
Northern Colorado Fall Festivals
13th Annual Fall Festival and Corn Maze
Harvest Farm, Wellington
Oct. 2-31, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Ten-acre corn maze, pig races, hay-wagon rides, corn cannons, petting zoo, natural play area, hay-bale maze and more. Proceeds benefit 209-acre working farm and long-term rehabilitation center for men. www.harvestfarm.net
Anderson Farms Fall Festival
Erie, Open daily through Nov. 1, hours vary by day (check website).
Corn maze, pumpkin patch, hayrides, barnyard pedal karts, farm animals. Terror in the Corn: haunted hayride and ghost town, zombie paintball hunt and more. www.andersonfarms.com
Fall Harvest Festival at Miller Farms
Platteville, Open daily through mid-November, 9am-6pm.
Practice harvesting and learn how to be a farmer. Also enjoy a hayride, haunted corn maze, jumping pillow, antique tractors, hay pyramid, petting zoo and more. www.millerfarms.net
Fritzler’s Corn Maze
La Salle, Through Oct. 31, Wednesdays and Thursdays –5-9pm, Fridays–5-10pm, Saturdays –11am-10pm, Sundays–12noon-6pm.
Pumpkin patch, campfires, zombie paintball slayer, helicopter rides, jumping pillow, Scream Acres Haunted Corn Maze, ghost hunt and more. www.fritzlermaze.com
The Hollow at Hankins Farm
Johnstown, Through Nov. 1, Saturdays, 9am-6pm and Sundays, 12noon-6pm.
Corn maze, zip line, pumpkin patch, trampoline, hay bale maze and more. www.hankinsfarms.com
Hudson, Through Oct. 31, Saturdays and Sundays, 10am-5pm.
Corn maze, pumpkin patch, create your own scarecrow, giant slide, petting zoo and more. www.mazzottifarms.com
Greeley, Oct. 2-3, Friday, 5-10pm and Saturday, 11am-9pm.
Beer, brats, games; kids’ area with face painting, arcade and other activities; polka dancing; pie-eating contest; stein-lifting contest. www.greeleydowntown.com/signature-events/oktobrewfest-2015
17th Annual Elk Fest
Estes Park, Oct. 3-4, 10am-5pm
Celebrate the annual elk rut with bugling contests; archery range; exhibits; Rocky Mountain Raptor Program; Mountain Man Rendezvous; arts and crafts; Native American music, dancing and storytelling; self-guided elk watching; children’s area with elk-themed activities; beer garden. Also includes 1st Annual Rut Run 5K on Saturday. www.visitestespark.com/events-calendar/special-events/elk-fest
5th Annual Authentic German Oktoberfest
Berthoud, Oct. 3, 11am-6pm
Food vendors, arts and crafts, beer garden, pretzel-eating contest, music, polka dancing. www.berthoudoktoberfest.com
Denver Botanic Gardens, Oct. 9-11, 9am-5pm
Wide variety of pumpkins available from 10-acre pumpkin patch. Pumpkin-carving demonstrations; hay, pony and barrel train rides; jumping pillow; carnival games; face painting; live music; corn maze; bull rides; food and drink. www.botanicgardens.org/pumpkin-festival
5th Annual Harvest Balloon Festival
Sterling, Oct. 17, 1-8pm
Balloon rides (limited, reservation required), pumpkin carving, music, food, live entertainment, face painting, games. www.harvestballoonfestival.com
Fort Collins Fall Fest
Fort Collins, Oct. 17-18, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Seasonal celebration featuring visual art, handmade items, and affordable art made by local and regional artists. Meet the artists, patio cafe, live music. More information: www.colorado.com/events/fort-collins-fall-fest
Greeley, Oct. 17-18, 10am- 6pm, Oct. 24-25, 1-4pm
“Down on the Farm” weekends: 3rd Annual Tractor Show Oct. 17-18 (kid friendly) and Pumpkin Patch Haywagon Rides Oct. 24-25. www.tiggesfarm.com