Fall into Family Fun

Anikin and Aldo push the hamster wheel back and forth along a haybale course. | Michelle Allen

Before we put on costumes and collect our candy booty, the next few weeks is the perfect time to visit one of the many fall festivals and pumpkin patches in the Tahoe Sierra.

One of my family’s favorite fall events is Tahoe City’s Fall Festival & Pumpkin Patch held lakeside at the beautiful Commons Beach. Featuring fun games, activities, live music, food vendors, pumpkin patch and more, the festival is small in scale but big in fun. This year’s festival is on Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Our interest was quickly drawn to a quite plump and very vocal turkey. The boys and I tried to mimic his loud call, but we were no match for his majestic gobble.

As much as my family loves our hometown pumpkin patch, we also enjoy exploring other fall festivals and pumpkin patches in the area. We have been to many of them including several in the Reno/Sparks area and in the foothills near Auburn. Every year I try to find a pumpkin patch that is new and different. This year I chose Andelin Family Farm in Sparks, Nev.

Check out all of the family friendly fall events in the fall Tahoe Music, Events & Festivals guide.

The Andelin Family Farm transforms into a wonderland of fall fun with its annual harvest festival and pumpkin patch. Now in its 10th year, this festival is open Tuesdays through Saturdays through Oct. 31 and offers many fun activities for the whole family.

The train cars of the cow barrel train are plastic barrels that have been cut and fashioned to look like cows. | Michelle Allen

On a recent warm, fall day, my parents Jim and Cheryl Hill took me, my son Anikin and his friend Aldo Aronhalt to the festival. The boys were excited and started to take off running as soon as we were inside.

To my surprise the first thing Anikin and Aldo wanted to do is look at the farm animals. Anikin loves animals, but now that he is 6, he is more interested in “bib boy” (his words) activities. We were greeted by the loud call of one large sheep that stared at Anikin and Aldo with great intensity, waiting for them to hand over some food. We visited the chickens, but our interest was quickly drawn to a quite plump and very vocal turkey. The boys and I tried to mimic his loud call, but we were no match for his majestic gobble. We laughed hysterically at the peculiar sounds he made as he danced around fluffing up his feathers.

Anikin and Aldo navigate through the haybale maze.

The boys tried out the hamster wheel, which is a small section of what looks like a large corrugated metal water tank. The boys went inside and with some effort they pushed the wheel up and down the haybale course. But it was not long before they were off to the cow barrel train. The design was simple. The train cars were made from plastic buckets that were fashioned to look like cows. The cars were pulled around a corral by an all-terrain vehicle.

Anikin and Aldo spent the next hour checking everything out. There were so many things to see, like the haybale maze, corn slingshot, duck races, lasso practice, art bar and much more. There was also a hayride and a corn cannon.

One of the highlights was the 5-acre, treasure hunt-themed corn maze. We tried the treasure hunt but walking around the maze proved to be too big a task for two boys who had been running around the farm for the last couple of hours. It wasn’t long before Anikin and Aldo were complaining about being hot and tired.

We backtracked out of the maze and walked to the pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins to carve. We picked out perfect jack-o-lantern pumpkins and perused the baked goods and other items for sale.

Andelin Family Farm also offers zombie paint ball, a haunted maze and other nighttime attractions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. | (775) 530-8032, andelinfamilyfarm.com