Corn Mazes and Pumpkin Patches

It is that time of the year again. The leaves are turning, the pumpkins are patching and the corn is a-mazing.

I won’t disguise it, I take the simple path and will just refer you to my last year’s article. Both corn mazes are good options that we’ve visited personally. One addition to the list this year is Vollmer farm, where we went a few weeks ago for the Farm Tour. It has a large kids activity area and the usual farm stuff. No corn maze, but a giant jumping pillow and even movies on Saturday night.

Ken’s Korn Maze and Ganyard Farm were covered in last year’s article.

hay maze


Shakori Hills Fall 2013 (Fri-Sun)

Shakori Hills, the twice-yearly music festival started yesterday. With temperatures dropping, it will probably be more a hardcore hippies event, but if your family can brave the chilly 70s, head out and enjoy tent camping, music, tie-tying, singing, drum-circling, short everything needed to help the kids understand what the grandparents did back in the 70s. (Well, maybe not everything.)

Shakori Hills is family-friendly, read their family page for some details. Tickets are $110, kids get in free.

Shakori Hills



International Festival of Raleigh (Fri-Sun)

I think nobody needs convincing that Raleigh is more mulitcultural than ever, but if you wondered just how many immigrant communities there are, come out to the International Festival at the Convention Center this weekend. From El Salvadorian dance to Lebanese food and Vietnamese cooking demos, you will find something from all the places you’ve always wanted to visit but never got to go.

PepperFest (Sun 3-7)

Do you like Peppers? You probably didn’t expect it, but there is a Festival just for you. In its sixth year, the Annual Amazing Abundance Pepper Festival takes place on Sunday in Chapel Hill. Sample all sort of pepper dishes, celebrate pepper king and queen, and even sample pepper micro brews!
Pepper Festival Website

Bluegrass and Barbecue

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Raleigh has snagged the Annual Bluegrass Convention and surrounding hootenannies from Nashville. If Bluegrass and Barbecue is not your world, it might be best to stay home for the weekend or go to the beach. (For better alternatives, see below.)

Assuming that you’re looking for some free entertainment with kids, here are the options: There are actually two kids’ areas, one next to the convention center facing the Marriott (Salisbury St.) and the other further up on Martin St. Near the main stage on City Plaza, there is a dedicated hula hoop space.

Want band recommendations? (see schedule for details):

Big Fat Gap (Fri 3p), Kruger Brothers (Fri 6:15p), Lou Reid and Carolina (8:15p) on Friday; then the Church Sisters (Sat 4pm), Vickie Vaughn Band (Sat 5:15) and Chatham County Line (9:30p) on Saturday.

And what about the barbecue?

The NC Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship is co-located with the festival. Pigs will go on the grill on Friday at 9pm, and will be ready on Saturday for lunch. Barbecue will be for sale after the judging is over.


Young Audience by Hindrik S, licenced under CC BY-NC-SA

Greenway and Carousel

The Festival takes place this weekend, which is my annual opportunity to promote urban hiking. See, if you drive and hour to a park, only to find a half hour paved loop, you might as well stay ITB. Don’t ask me why, but I find loop hikes more appealing that out-and-back. Are you interested in more hikes like this? Please let me know – I’m thinking about writing up a few more, but I’m not sure whether there is any interest.

(If you visit the page about this hike, you can download a pdf with the map.)

You can anywhere in downtown (your house, ideally), and make your way to Boylan Ave, then Walnut Creek Greenway, the Little Rock Greenway, and finally back toward downtown along E Lenoir St.

If I read it correctly, the festival is not scattered along the greenway this year, but concentrated around the beautiful Walnut Creek Wetland Center, perhaps about an hour walk from downtown along the greenway. From the, continue on to Chavis Park, where the 75th anniversary of this underutilized park is celebrated. Free carousel rides all day!

If you don’t think of downtown as a place to hike: go do this one, and let me know! (And if you need tips, contact me upfront!)

festival in motion_resized


Another annual event that we’re looking forward to each fall is BugFest. It is organized by the Science Museum, and it clearly deserves being called a “Fest”. Live Bugs, Dead Bugs, Small Bugs, Big Bugs, Bug Movies, Bug Crafts, Bug Races, Bug Art: It is BugFest. To point out my personal favorites:

  • The Alberti Flea Circus: We’ve all heard of a Flea Circus, but have you actually seen one? Performing at BugFest throughout the day.
  • Cafe Insecta: They serve bugs. No kidding! Fried Grasshoppers, anyone?
  • Horseshoe Crabs: If you’ve been to an aquarium around here, you’ll know that they are among the most fascinating sea creatures.
  • Cyborg Insects: NC State’s iBionics Lab connects microcontrollers to cockroach brains, and makes them run left or right.
  • Stump the Experts: Bring any bug to the examination table and the experts will identify it. (We did that last year, and brought what turned out to be a Phidippus Audax we found earlier that day.)

Visit the BugFest website for detailed directions, or just head out to the museum and the Plaza and enjoy what you find.

Phidippus audax

Phidippus audax (yes, we singlehandedly caught one last year)