Speaking of fall fun for the kids, there's a great place near us in Centreville VA called Cox Farm. They hold a festival every year from mid-September until the weekend after Halloween; I wish we had a place like that in Chicago when I was growing up. Most of the year they have a farm stand on the property where they sell flowers, vegetables, fruits, garden supplies, etc. However, with the arrival of fall each year the farm stand closes for the season and the "The Pumpkin Patch" opens to host their Fall Festival.
The Pumpkin Patch is a wonderful outdoor play area for the kids that covers several acres of the farm. There are corn stalk teepees and hay bale forts to hide in and lots of kid sized buildings to explore with stairs, slides and such. They have games, activities, and entertainment going on constantly, a petting zoo with various animals, and all sorts of other kid-friendly activities.
One of the more popular stops was always the face painting area. This area had several sturdy picnic tables set up with wood framed metal mirrors attached to the center. On the table are several containers of water color paints, design templates, cups of water for clean-up, and, of course, the absolutely necessary rolls of paper towels. The picture at right, taken in early October of 2004, shows the results of the grandchildren's face painting efforts. You might be able to guess that they did mine on their own and I helped a bit when they did Hilary's. Sadly, they discontinued the face-painting area a couple years later.
There's also a great hay ride for the kids (and parents too) that treks along a trail through the property past haunted houses, a group of space aliens and their space craft, through shallow streams, etc. on a 20 minute ride.
They also have the actual pumpkin patch where they sell some of the biggest pumpkins I've ever seen - one year I got one almost big enough for my granddaughter to crawl into - as well as all sorts of squashes and gourds and the Fall decorating staple, colorful "Indian corn." We always take the grandkids there at least once or twice (sometimes more often) in the weeks leading up to Halloween and they always have a great time (and so do we).
The pictures below were taken in early Oct 2008. Left below in the background is the stand where the vegetables, fresh apple cider, and pumpkins are sold. At right is our granddaughter playing with one of the numerous cut-outs.
Left below is Hil with our grandson by the hayrides. Right is Hil, Denise and the grandkids on the hayride wagon.
Left below is our granddaughter Sydney at the face-painting station and at right is me with our grandson Cameron.
Below left; the grandkids by one of the corn stalk bundles. At right coming down one of the bigger slides is; L-R, Cameron, me, Sydney. She won the race!
Finally below is Hil, Denise and the grandkids in front of the prize-winning pumpkin from the 2008 Virginia State Fair - all 1007 pounds of it! At right are some of the pumpkins for sale in the pumpkin patch.
The rest are pictures from our October 2010 visit.
Below; Cameron and Sydney, picking out pumpkins
Left below; Cameron and Sydney among the pumpkins. Right below is a picture of them with some of the huge Mums.
Left below; Cameron and Sydney with Hilary and the prize pumpkin. This year's prize winner was considerably smaller than the past couple years. At right below is a the hay bale fort.
Left below is another shot of the hay bale fort. Right below is Sydney with one of the "cut-out" props.
Left and right below are shots of the hay ride.
Left below is Hilary and Cameron on the hay wagon. At right is Sydney and me.
At left below is Sydney with another cut-out. At right is Cameron and Sydney in the corn maze.
Left below; Cameron is working the pump in the barnyard display. At right is Hilary resting for a minute.
These final two are Cameron and Sydney at the biggest of the slides.