By Kate Hagel
Autumn is on the way and with it comes my family’s favorite part of the season, Harvest Festivals! Looking at the upcoming regional calendar shows there’s enough of them in Chautauqua County, that we can spend every weekend up to our elbows in fresh roasted corn, funnel cake, grapes, and music. Here are four that our family plans to hit.
Festival of Grapes
When: 9/17 6:00 pm-dusk; 9/18 noon-dusk; 9/19 9:00 am-dusk; 9/20 9:00 am-5:00 pm | Where: Village Square in Silver Creek, NY | $$: The festival is free but ride bracelets are $20; $16 until 9/15 (cash only) | Kid Friendly? Yes! | More info: Call Lisa Romano (716)785-8033 or visit https://www.facebook.com/festivalofgrapes1968.
A whole festival devoted to one of the region’s signature crops! Show up for the opening ceremony on Thursday and put your name in for a chance to enter the grape stomp. Compete with other stompers to see how much juice you can get from your ½ barrel of grapes in the allotted time. On Friday and Saturday the festival is in full swing. Stroll around the village square and down to the ballpark perusing food vendors and craft booths, then sample local wines in the beer and wine tent. There are rides for the kids (ride bracelets available $20 at the fair; $16 presale), and plenty of kettle corn. Both days will have live music, so your kids can dance their sillies out. Friday 6-9 pm music by Underground Stampede and Saturday 1-4 pm music by Rustic Ramblers; 6-9 pm get out your blue suede shoes for Elvis Impersonator Terry Buchwald. On Sunday, the festival closes with a parade down Main Street that starts at 1 pm. Get there early to get a good spot along the parade route.
Busti Apple Festival
When: 9/27 11:00 am-5:00 pm | Where: Busti Historical Society in Busti, NY | $$: Admission is $5 for adults and free for kids 12 and under (some demonstrations are extra) | Kid Friendly? Yes! Lots of stuff for all ages | More info: http://www.townofbusti.com/apple.html
This is one of my family of history nerds’ favorites! Step back in time on the grounds of the Busti Historical Society for the 40th anniversary of this wonderful fall festival. My kids love watching the demonstrations of pioneer and 19th century crafts and survival skills. This year there will be a Civil War reenactment encampment! With over 100 craft booths, a farmer’s market, and food vendors, the Busti Apple Festival is a great experience for the whole family. Learn how to hew logs, make soap, quilt, spin, weave, or make candles. There is live music and traditional dancing, as well as mill tours, and antique engines. The festival goes on rain or shine and the grounds are handicapped and stroller accessible. All proceeds go toward the restoration of the Busti Mill.
Saints and Sinners Lake View Cemetery Tour
When: 10/3 and 10/10 (see below for varying times) | Where: Lakeview Cemetery in Jamestown, NY | $$: Walking tours $10 for nonmembers, $5 for members, $2 for kids; Carriage tours $18 | Kid Friendly? Yes! Only two bucks up to age 18! | More info: http://www.fentonhistorycenter.org/events/10th-annual-saints-sinners-lake-view-cemetery-tours/
This is another event that my family is really excited about! These fun and NOT SCARY guided tours are the Fenton History Center’s main fundraiser of the year. They take you through beautiful Lake View Cemetery and introduce you to some of its interesting residents. The walking tour takes about an hour and half and the paths are stroller friendly. The guides are either museum teachers or board of trustee members from the Fenton History Center; all local historians. On the walking tour you will hear the stories of 12 people, four or five of them are delivered as monologues by costumed actors. Stories this year include those of pioneers and town founders, a Civil War soldier, and a woman who finally busted a conman who was a serial bigamist. If you’d like to take the tour during the evening, you have your chance on October 3rd. Groups of 12-15 people step off every half hour beginning at 5:30 pm until 8 pm. If you’d like to take the walking tour during the day and enjoy the beautiful fall colors, head over on October 10th when tours step off every half hour beginning at 3:00 pm until 6 pm.
Another cool option is to take a guided horse-drawn carriage tour around the cemetery. Carriages hold either 10 or 16 people and include a museum guide. (Groups welcome!) These tours are an hour long and while there is a little overlap with the characters from the walking tour, the carriage tour features a different set of stories, some also performed by costumed actors that include a circus performer and a race car driver. Day carriage tours are October 3rd and leave at 3:00, 4:00, and 5:00 pm. Evening carriage tours are October 10th and leave at 6:00, 7:00, and 8:00 pm. Because the carriages have limited seating, reservations are required for these tours. Call 716-664-6256 to reserve your time.
(A cool date night for the parents is on October 11th at 8 pm when the Fenton History Center hosts a Mausoleum Tour. This more elegant event features costumed guides and actors performing monologues of the stories of three residents, plus nearby monuments. Refreshments!)
Peek’n Peak Fall Festival
When: 10/10-10/11 & 10/17-10/18 10:00 am-5:00 pm | Where: Peek’n Peak Resort; 1405 Old Road Clymer, NY 14724 | $$: Admission is free but food, entertainment, and children’s activities will have fees | Kid Friendly? Yes! Lots of activities, but bring extra money for the additional costs. | More info: www.pknpk.com/activities/fallfest/
Two weekends of fall fun in the foothills of western New York. Brilliant foliage sets the scene for a juried crafts show with more than 130 vendors and a farmers market along with activities like the pumpkin cannon, children’s games, petting zoo, entertainment, pony rides, corn hole tournament, ski lift rides, classic car cruise in, and an annual snow sports equipment swap and more! You can even stay on site at the resort with packages starting at $389 a person.
Once the summer days have come to an end and the sweaters come out, find a festival to go to! It’s the perfect way for your family to celebrate the beauty and bounty of Chautauqua County, and enjoy the outdoors before the cold hits.
Check the online calendar hosted by the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau for even more festivals and events!
Author Kate Hagel recently moved to Chautauqua County with her husband, six kids, two large dogs, and a number of cats. She is always looking for family friendly activities and looks forward to seeing you at a festival this fall.