If we wanted to pick a symbolic image for each of the months to come, ideas would come easily: a turkey for November, and a brightly decorated tree for December. But what about October?
That’d be easy, too. This month’s icon would be the pumpkin, an image that fits both the fall season and build-up to Halloween.
Pumpkin patches and fall festivals pop up all over the landscape this time of year, offering a lot more than just pumpkins for sale, with a full range of fun family activities. Here are 10 traditional favorites:
October 10-11 — Giant Pumpkin Festival: Farmers, gardeners and pumpkin lovers, take notice. Prizes will be awarded for the biggest pumpkins. No entry fee. Hours: 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Kunde Family Winery, 9825 Highway 12, Sonoma. 282-1513, kunde.com.
October 17-18 and October 24-25 — Tolay Fall Festival. In a season full of hay rides and pumpkin patches, this annual family event stands out, offering all that and more: a straw maze, gunnysack races, a pumpkin seed spitting contest, a barnyard animal petting area, a replica of a Native American village, demonstrations of archery, fly fishing and astronomy — and that’s still not a complete list. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. $5 for adults; $3 for children 12 and younger. Tolay Regional Park, 5869 Lakeville Highway, Petaluma. 565-2041, parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov.
October 24 — “Pumpkins on Pikes.” Here’s something a little different. The festivities start at 2 p.m. with food, music and pumpkin carving. Participants the chance to display their Jack-O-Lantern on a pike in the corn field. When the sun goes down the pumpkins are lit. Bring carving tools, a blanket if you’re staying after dark, and favorite dessert if you’re participating in the dessert potluck. Admission: $20; children age 6 and under free; $10 barbecue plate available for dinner. No dogs, please. Tara Firma Farms, 3796 I St, Petaluma. 765-1202 Petaluma. tarafirmafarms.com
Through October 31 — Petaluma Pumpkin Patch and Amazing Corn Maze. Traditionally, traffic tends to slow down along southbound Highway 101 north of Petaluma every fall as drivers gawk at thos 5-acre attraction. sometimes sparking a few gripes, but visitors adore it. Pumpkin patch hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Free activities at the pumpkin patch include a straw mountain to climb, farm animals, a little kids maze, rubber duck races and a corn kernel “sandbox.” Corn Maze hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Sunday; 6-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Corn Maze admission: $5 during the daytime (age 5 and under free); $9 at nights. 450 Stony Point Road, Petaluma. 781-3132, petalumapumpkinpatch.com.
Eastside Seasonal Farm and Pumpkin Patch. This site also includes a corn maze, plus goats and ducks. Noon-6:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Saturdays; closing at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, and 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24. 5834 Petaluma Hill Road, Santa Rosa. No admission charges; discount coupons available at eastsideseasonalfarm.com. Information: 206-9672.
Grandma’s Pumpkin Patch. The patch features a petting zoo, farm animals, hay a stack for climbing, noodles for stringing and old tractors for imaginary driving. Open daily from 10 a.m. until dusk. Free admission. 17740 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg. 431-8058, healdsburggranny.com.
Great Peter Pumpkin Patch. There’s a lot more to do than pick a pumpkin at this Petaluma patch. Visitors can milk a cow, take a hay ride, dig for potatoes, taste fresh cheeses and eat homemade ice cream. Live music on weekends. Open 9 a.m.-dusk daily. Free admission and parking. 4235 Spring Hill Road, Petaluma. 762-9038, 775-1183, springhillcheese.com.