Though the kids are back in school, Indiana hasn’t finished celebrating its heritage of food and fun. Let the Hoosier state spice up your weekends with these exciting fall festivals.
Check out these highlight events, then, find more in the Events Calendar.
Sept. 29-30 The Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art welcomes visitors to Indiana’s premier outdoor juried fine arts and crafts show, featuring about 250 exhibitors. Enjoy continuous live performances as you admire paintings, drawings, sculpture, weaving, jewelry, stained glass and other art. Artists travel from several states to participate in this very popular event. Enjoy the smells and tastes at the riverfront food fest, while the kids have fun in the children’s activity tent.
Sept. 30-Oct. 6 Since 1921, the West Side Nut Club has held an annual festival to raise money for charitable work, and it’s grown to attract over 100,000 people each year. The West Side Nut Club Fall Festival‘s main attraction is the food including exotic choices like alligator stew, chocolate-covered grasshoppers and brain sandwiches. Three parades add a festive nature to the week with the Lighthouse Parade, Pet Parade and Main Parade brightening the streets. The Amateur Hour takes place each evening, featuring talented folks who made the cut over several weeks of auditions and judging with a final winner being named on Friday night.
Oct. 1-2 Turn to Terre Haute to get your fill of fall festival fun. Pioneer Days features an active gristmill and plenty of heritage exhibits. It showcases old-fashioned crafters, local artists and “village folk” stepping back in time. The village recreates pioneer activities, crafts and cultural lifestyles. Other activities include hands-on children’s activities, civil war re-enactors and a traders flea market.
Oct. 4-6 Seymour Oktoberfest offers something for everyone, all with free admission. Food plays a leading role in this festival. Booths line the city streets, each laden with rich treats in true Oktoberfest tradition. Festival patrons are also encouraged to shop for collectibles, crafts, fine arts and one-of-a-kind items at the large flea markets. Of course, the festival wouldn’t be complete without a full schedule of entertaining events. From hot air balloon races to a parade, no one will be bored. If you’re searching for an active experience, participate in the 5K walk/run/wheelchair race or compete in either the cornhole tournament or horseshoe tournament at Gaiser Park. Listen to the German band scheduled to perform each night and sign up for the polka dance competition. Enter the brat-eating contest and check out the baking contest. Enjoy the biergarten and traditional clog dancers. Kids can enjoy kinderplatz for activities such as crafts, sing-a-longs, storytelling, coloring and character appearances.
Oct. 4-6 Shop the handiwork of artisans, quilters, carvers and painters as they display their talent in tents throughout the Fall Crafters Fair in the heart of Northern Indiana Amish Country. Enjoy the amazing abilities of cloggers and musicians, including the Fall Crafters Fair Gospel Sing, Moonlight Bluegrass and more. Check out live demonstrations such as chainsaw carving, apple butter making, and old-fashioned harvesting methods like threshing.
Oct. 4-7 Celebrate the birthday of the “Hoosier Poet,” James Whitcomb Riley, in his proud birthplace during the Riley Festival. Each year’s festival has one of his poems as the theme, and this year’s is “Her Valentine.” The festival includes two parades: the Parade of Flowers and the Americana Riley Festival Parade. Admire the talent behind the fine arts, quilts, photography, posters and decorated pumpkins on display. And live musical entertainment in several venues will keep your toes tapping.
Oct. 5-7 The Newport Antique Auto Hill Climb celebrates fall in a unique way. Watch as more than 300 antique cars compete on “the hill.” Celebrate the season with tasty food. Scour the Newport flea market for an ancient gem or just join in the hometown festivities and family fun.
Oct. 6-26 Holiday World’s Halloween Weekends offers not-so-scary family-friendly fun with a picturesque setting on colorful autumn weekends. There is something for everyone with a fun treat-or-treat trail for youngsters and world class roller coaster riding in the dark when the sun goes down. If you like to take it slow, Happy Halloween Weekends will feature hay rides and two corn mazes along with face painting, planned children’s activities and seasonal treats.
Oct. 12-14 The largest War of 1812 living history event in the nation, Mississinewa 1812, takes visitors back in time. Feel the fall air as you explore British and American military camps. Experience daily life by taking a tour of the British field, or witness ongoing demonstrations such as field drills, artillery firings, musket and rifle drills, battlefield medicine and surgery and reenactments. Also explore the Native American village, the largest reconstructed woodland Native American village in the United States. Storytellers captivate festival goers with enchanting tales. Visit the wilderness area to witness life along the rivers and streams in 1812 recreated in the longhunter, trapper, voyager and wilderness camps. Each camp features ongoing demonstrations of fire starting, open fire cooking and storytelling. Modern merchants also frequent the festival in Rivertown. More than 140 artisans delight visitors with their wares and demonstrations. Rivertown often offers reproductions of 1812 necessities and niceties. More than 20 food purveyors provide delicious foods that were frequent facets on the dinner table in 1812.
Oct. 12-22 Indiana’s largest festival, the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival, brings together all communities in Parke County as they showcase the 31 historic covered bridges that have made this county the Covered Bridge Capital of the World. The headquarters of the festival is Rockville, where the town square is transformed into a shoppers’ paradise with food, arts and crafts, clothing, holiday gifts and baked goods vendors. Take in a show at the Historic Ritz Plaza Theater and browse the Covered Bridge Art Gallery. In Bridgeton, visit the old gristmill and the 1878 House then try lots of delicious fall food like persimmon and pumpkin ice cream. No matter which towns you visit, be sure to stop for a quiet stroll across one of the storied covered bridges.
All October Fashion Farm in Ligonier converts to a whimsical and quirky place to feature pumpkin creations for the month of October. Pumpkins, squash and gourds are used to create well-known characters, stories and historical events. Fall is in full effect at the Pumpkin Fantasyland festival. Take in every minute of it.