Build family traditions in autumn

lpemberton@theolympian.comOctober 14, 2012 

This is one of my favorite times of the year.

I spent last Sunday decorating our house with many of the Halloween and harvest-themed items we’ve collected through the years, from the trio of pumpkins I painted in ceramics class about 20 years ago to the glow-in-the-dark, construction-paper bat that our son made in child care last year.

But it’s not just about decorations, pumpkin-scented candles and figuring out Halloween costumes.

Autumn is when we try to participate in some of our family’s favorite traditions, such as searching for the perfect pumpkin, getting lost in a corn maze and competing against each other with a target and a pumpkin sling shot.

Here are seasonal activities to try with your family:

Explore the outdoors with a haunted hike: Stream Team, the city of Olympia and Capital High School’s Theatre Department have joined forces to present “The Tale of the Disappearing Forest Haunted Hike” from 3-6 p.m. Saturday at Priest Point Park in Olympia.

The free event is geared for ages 6 and older and will feature a story that is acted out along a half-mile hike that takes about an hour to finish. Kids can collect clues and meet forest inhabitants and mysterious creatures along the way.

There will be hands-on activities and crafts at the event as well.

Go to

Take a train ride: Climb aboard the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad, 1101 Sylvenus St., Chehalis, for Pumpkin Train events Oct. 27-28 that include costume contests, goody bags for kids and a pumpkin hunt.

Departures are at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 for ages 2 and older.

Call 360-748-9593 or go to

Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad, which travels from Elbe to Mineral Lake, is offering the Pumpkin Express on Oct. 27-28. Kids will be greeted by “the Great Pumpkin” and can choose a pumpkin to take home. Riders are encouraged to wear costumes.

The railroad also is offering Autumn Leaves runs through the end of the month. Ticket prices vary.

Call 888-STEAM-11 or go to

Enjoy a harvest festival: The Evergreen State College Organic Farm will host its 32nd annual Harvest Festival from noon-6 p.m. Saturday.

The free event is open to the public and will include food and music as well as farm tours and workshops on canning, pumpkin carving, composting, wine and beer making and seed saving, among others.

For more details, go to or call 360-867-5213.

Get a taste of autumn at a cider mill: Every weekend this month, Lattin’s Country Cider Mill and Farm, 9402 Rich Road SE, Olympia, is celebrating its annual Apple Festival. The event features bluegrass music, tractor-drawn wagon rides to a pumpkin patch, farm animals and food.

There is no admission charge, but parking costs $3 a vehicle. The farm is open daily, as well.

Call 360-491-7328 or go to

Pick the perfect pumpkin: There’s no shortage of pumpkin patches in the area.

Our family has gone to several of them, but we always seem to be drawn back to Picha’s Pumpkin Patch, 6502 52nd St. E., Puyallup. It has a fun pumpkin sling shot, a corn maze and a wonderful selection of gourds, squash and other decor.

Call 253-841-4443 or go to

We also have visited Hunter’s Pumpkin Patch, 7401 Yelm Highway SE, Olympia, several times for preschool field trips. The kids, especially younger ones, enjoy its hay maze and barn slide. The farm offers many other activities each weekend.

Call 360-456-0466 or go to

To learn about other seasonal events and pumpkin patches, go to or check out Friday’s entertainment section in the newspaper.

Lisa Pemberton is one busy mama, raising three children while working as a reporter at The Olympian. Reach her at

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