Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn
For many people October means the start of the Halloween season, but all across North Carolina it heralds the beginning of the fall festivals. So before you set out the fake cobwebs and tombstones, be sure to find a fall festival near you, and maybe grab your pumpkin on the way out. Here are five fall celebrations to visit around the Tarheel State.
Wilmington Riverfest, Wilmington, NC (Oct. 7-9)
The Wilmington Riverfest is a free, family-oriented festival in historic downtown Wilmington by the Cape Fear River. The weekend-long celebration draws over 20,000 visitors each year, with street vendors selling food, art and crafts. On Saturday there is a fireworks display in the evening, and all weekend long there will be a kids zone with inflatables, rides, stage events, and activities to keep children engaged and entertained.
Mountain Glory Festival, Marion, NC (Oct. 8)
The one-day Mountain Glory Festival happens each year in Marion to celebrate the start of the autumn season in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Fall foliage will already be peaking in some of the higher mountain forests at this time of year, making the drive itself beautiful. In Marion you can see the annual Mountain Glory Quilt Show inside the McDowell Arts Council, purchase food and art along three blocks of vendors, and listen to a variety of live music. There will also be a Children’s Arena with hands-on activities, local entertainment, and the annual best-dressed pet competition.
North Carolina State Fair, Raleigh, NC (Oct. 13-23)
This 11 day state fair is the largest annual event in North Carolina, with over 1 million visitors each year. This will be the 154th year of the festival, which organizers describe as the “ultimate ‘something for everyone’ event.” There will be live music, carnival rides, food, museums, and crafts to keep you entertained, as well as a number of competitions from “a horse show, livestock show, culinary, handicraft or art competition.” The State Fair promises to find the finest and most talented residents of North Carolina.
Autumn Leaves Festival, Mt. Airy, NC (Oct. 14-16)
Mt. Airy hosts the Autumn Leaves Festival, which draws over 200,000 people each year. The town is also famous for its connection with Andy Griffith, star of The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock. In between buying art from the over 200 vendors who will be present this year, visit the Andy Griffith Museum or a hardwood forest. For shorter mountains peak foliage should be around October 16, so take advantage of the views nearby. There will also be live music downtown, featuring Old-time, Bluegrass and Gospel performed by local musicians.
Halifax County Harvest Days, Halifax, NC (Oct. 22-23)
Halifax County Harvest Days comes later in the month, but the cooler weather may be nice for people hoping to participate in the 4-H fundraising event, a 5k run through town. There will be live music performances throughout the two day event, as well as hay rides and crafts. Plus visitors can see live farm animals including horses.
Wherever you choose to go, enjoy the fall weather and beautiful scenery as the North Carolina leaves change color. Then get ready for the next change as communities gear up for the trick or treaters.