Fall festivals far and near

Courtesy iStock

The first bout of autumn weather provides the perfect excuse to dig those barn boots out of the closet, don that new flannel, and head out to country for cider, donuts, pumpkins and– thanks to area farmers offering a bumper crop of fun– much, much more.

If an autumn extravaganza is what you’re after, Uncle John’s Cider Mill, located 7 miles north of St. Johns (about an hour and fifteen minute drive from downtown Grand Rapids) is a big, bustling farm where adventure awaits that’s open 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. seven days a week. In addition to all of the traditional fall festival offerings (cider, donuts, corn maze, pumpkin patch), the farm boasts a hard cider tasting room, live music, a train, a pie barn, sunflower fields, and gemstone mining. That’s a lot to take in! Located at 8614 North US-127, the farm’s website suggests typing “Emerald Golf Course” into your GPS. The cider mill, which cannot be missed, is located directly across the street. For more information, visit ujcidermill.

Less further afield is a favorite for kids and animal lovers alike. Lewis Adventure Farm and Zoo, located at 4180 M-20 in New Era, boasts 46 farm attractions during its Fall Festival, which is ongoing every day of the week through Oct. 31. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sundays, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. This attraction is a 55-minute drive from downtown Grand Rapids. Visit the website, here.

On Oct. 12-15, Fennville’s annual Goose Festival will include a carnival, live music, food trucks, a car show, pickleball and cornhole tournaments, and plenty of stuff for kids. A few Thursday night events get the party started early. The Gooseberry 5K sets off Saturday morning, followed by an afternoon parade. The downtown social district invites strolling with brews or cocktails from Salt of the Earth, El Jaripeo, and Root.

Pumpkinfest in Zeealnd takes place Friday, Oct. 6 and Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. Courtesy photo.

Zeeland’s Pumpkinfest, Oct. 6-7, has been a community tradition for more than 35 years. The festival provides all things fall for kids: horse-drawn hayrides, pumpkins to decorate, pumpkin #cookies# to decorate, a street fair and parade. This year’s parade theme is Reach for the Stars, so expect fun riffs on starlight and vertical activity. The Avenue of Art will be back, too — big wooden panels that local artists decorate for festivalgoers to enjoy. The festival takes place 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. in downtown Zeeland. View the full program of activities here.

A personal favorite (because the homemade pumpkin donuts are so good) is Post Family Farms, 5081 Bauer Rd., in Hudsonville. Fall donut hours are Monday-Thursday,  7:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. Fun Farm Days begin Wednesday, oct. 11. Hayrides to the pumpkin patch and other children’s activities abound at this rural gem, just a short drive from downtown Grand Rapids. Visit, postfamilyfarm.com for more details. Closed Sundays.

Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery, 3142 4 Mile Rd NE, is open every day; Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, noon-6 p.m., though the donut line may close at 5:15 p.m. The farm offers horse-drawn hayrides, a corn maze, a giant bouncing pillow, cider making demonstrations, donuts and more. Some U-pick apple options may be available. Call beforehand to find out which varietals are still in season: 616-361-5567.




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