And you thought fall festivals were all about pumpkin patches and corn mazes.
In Kansas – and in neighboring states within driving distance – the final months of the year are filled with festivals celebrating not only the cooler weather but also art, music, food and other randomness.
Kansas has festivals that exist for the sole purposes of celebrating bluegrass music, medieval times, aviation and outhouses. There’s one that’s focused on chili and one that includes an activity called, simply, “human hamster balls.”
There are also separate festivals designed to celebrate Scottish, Nordic, Mexican, German and Habesha heritage, and there are fairs with fun schedules and funny names – Arkansas City’s Arkalalah, for example, and Humboldt’s Biblesta, where the highlight is a parade of townspeople dressed in biblical costumes and floats depicting scenes from the Bible.
Biblesta also has a free bean feed.
Use this guide to plan your family’s fall fun. And don’t worry. That list of pumpkin patches and corn mazes is coming, too.
Kansas State Fair, state fairgrounds, 2000 N. Poplar, Hutchinson, through Sept. 15. Gate admission $10 for adults. Crafts, carnival, concerts, livestock competitions and huge assortment of fried food. www.kansasstatefair.com.
Autumn & Art at Bradley Fair, Sept. 11-13, Bradley Fair, 2000 N. Rock Road. A fine arts show and sale showcasing artists from across the U.S. Free; $75 for the Sept. 11 opening party.
Chanute Mexican Fiesta, Sept. 13-14, Santa Fe Park, Chanute. Mexican cuisine, dancing. Free. 620-431-3350
Great Plains Nature Center’s Honey Bee Festival, Sept. 14, Great Plains Nature Center, 6232 E. 29th St. North. Free. Celebrating our state insect, the honey bee. Crafts, honey tasting and showing of “Vanishing of the Bees.”
Walnut Valley Festival, Sept. 18-22, fairgrounds, 1105 W. Ninth Ave., Winfield. Four interior stages of bluegrass music and lots of campground pickin’. www.wvfest.com
14th Annual Fall Great Plains Renaissance Festival, Sept. 21-22, Sedgwick County Park, 6300 E. 13th St.
Kingman Fall Festival, Sept. 21, B Street Barn, Cedar Street and West B Avenue, Kingman. Artisans, crafts, food, music.
United Habesha Community of Wichita’s Second Annual Cultural Festival and New Year Celebrations, Sept. 21, Exploration Place, 300 N. McLean Blvd. $35. Entertainment, food and cocktails to celebrate the Ethiopian/Eritrean New Year. 316-461-2023
Cider Days Fall Festival, Sept. 21-22, Kansas Expocentre, Topeka. Arts and crafts exhibits, live gunfights, live music, food, kids rides, exotic petting zoo. Free. 785-230-5226
46th Annual Greater Andover Days 2013, Sept. 26-29, Andover Central Park, 1607 E. Central, Andover. $3 button. Food court, carnival, KidFestrade, fun run, fishing clinic, craft and business expo, ice cream social and fireworks show. www.andoverks.com; 316-733-1303
28th Annual Clearwater Fall Festival, Living the Dream, Sept. 26-29. Festival button $2. Medallion hunt, carnival, city-wide garage sales, car show, chili cook-off, pony rides and pet contest. www.clearwaterfallfestival.com
Valley Center Fall Festival, Sept. 20-21, downtown Valley Center. Carnival rides, craft vendors, live music, Kids Fest, washer tournament, frog races, bike and trike contest, parade.
McPherson Scottish Festival & Highland Games, Sept. 28-29, Lakeside Park, U.S. 56., McPherson. Scottish heritage activities including piping and drumming, Highland dance, clan tents, caber toss, Celtic music and sheepdogs. www.macfestival.org
Anderson County Corn Festival, Sept. 28, 680 N. Lake Road, Garnett. Car show, wiener dog races, arts and crafts, interactive exhibits, food court, concert by Phil Vassar, Gloriana and Silver Bullet. Festival free, concert tickets $30. www.accornfest.com
Wagonmasters Chili Cook-Off, Sept. 28, downtown Wichita, Douglas Avenue. Public tasting, hot music and fire-breathing activities like the pepper-eating contest. www.wagonmasterschili.com
Wichita Flight Festival, Sept. 28-29, Col. James Jabara Airport, 3512 N. Webb Road. Celebrate Kansas’ role in aviation history with music, air-show performers, aircraft displays, kids activities. www.wichitaflightfestival.com
Goddard Fall Festival, Rockin Down the Yellow Brick Road, Oct. 4-5.
Volga German Society Oktoberfest, Oct. 4, Frontier Park, 102 S. Main, Hays. Polka music, dancing, German food and drink. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. 785-628-8202; www.germancapitalofkansas.com
Biblesta, Oct. 5, downtown Humboldt. Highlight is the parade: townspeople dressed in biblical costumes and floats depicting events from the Bible, heading down Main Street in chronological order from Genesis to Revelations. There’s also gospel music, a free bean feed and for the children, pony rides and Bible school. www.biblesta.com
Bethel College Fall Festival, Oct. 3-5, Bethel College, 300 E. 27th St., North Newton. Free. Entertainment, Mennonite/ethnic foods, athletics, college displays, arts, crafts, museum, events and kids activities. Taste of Newton on Oct. 3.
Woofstock, Oct. 5, Sedgwick County Park, 6501 W. 21st St. Fundraiser for the Kansas Humane Society. www.kshumane.org/specialevents/woofstock.htm
McPherson Burnin’ Down Main Cook-Off, Oct. 5, 306 N. Main, McPherson. Sampling wristband, $5. 620-241-7430
Wellington Fall Festival, Oct. 5, Heritage Park, East Seventh Street and North Washington Avenue, Wellington
Winfield Art in the Park, Oct. 5, Island Park, Main Street and North Welfelt Drive, Winfield. Suggested $2 donation for those over 12.
Nordic Heritage Festival, Oct. 5, Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St., Lawrence. Celebrate the cultures of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland through food, music and Viking games.
Chisholm Trail Day Festival, Oct. 5, Dickinson County Heritage Center, 412 S. Campbell, Abilene. Adults $5. 785-263-2681
Columbus Day Festival, Oct. 12, downtown square, 320 E. Maple, Columbus. Live entertainment, quilt show, tractor show. Held in connection with the Columbus Hot Air Balloon Regatta.
Haven Fall Festival, Oct. 12, downtown Haven, East Main Street. 5K fun run, bicycle ride, kids’ pedal pull, micro stock car races, alpaca/llama races and BBQ contest, parade, free concert followed by a street dance.
Prairie Pumpkin Festival, Oct. 12, Dyck Arboretum of the Plains, 177 W. Hickory St., Hesston. Adults, $4; children 3-15, $2. Fall-themed activities, food vendors, a hedge-apple launcher, a barrel train, hay-rack rides, petting zoo, face painting, duck races and playing in the hay. 620-327-8127
29th Haysville Fall Festival, Oct. 18-20, Riggs Park, 700 Sarah Lane, Haysville. Entertainment, car show, tractor pulls, bingo, pumpkin painting, craft booths and food court. www.haysvillefallfestival.com
Neewallah, Oct. 18-26, downtown Independence. Three parades, chili cook-off, “Young Frankenstein” musical, band competition. www.neewollah.com
Arkalalah, Oct 25-26, downtown Arkansas City. Annual fall festival with parades, craft show, dances, street games, carnival and food concessions. www.arkalalah.com
The Inaugural Kansas Pumpkin Palooza, Oct. 26, Sedgwick County Park, 6501 W. 21st St., $15-$40. Costumed 5K fun run/walk, costume contest, pumpkin chunkin, pumpkin painting, candy stations, group “Thriller” dance, mobile arcade, human hamster balls, laser tag, archery tag and live DJ. 316-993-3231
38th Annual Clearwater Christmas Fair, Nov. 9, Clearwater Middle School track, 140 S. Fourth St. Free.
Elk Falls Open House and Outhouse Tour, Nov. 22-23, Elk Falls. Tour of competing decorated outhouses plus yard sales, quilt show, arts and crafts, horse-drawn wagon rides and live music. $1.
Kansas City area
Kansas City Renaissance Festival, ongoing until Oct. 13, 633 N. 130th St. Bonner Springs. Admission: $19.95 adults; $10.95 child; $17.50 student/senior. www.kcrenfest.com
Plaza Art Fair, Sept. 20-22, Country Club Plaza. Covers nine blocks, featuring 240 artists, three live music stages and food from 27 restaurants. countryclubplaza.com/events/plaza-art-fair.
18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival, Oct. 12, American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, Mo. Bettye LaVette and Con Funk Shun, among others, will perform. americanjazzmuseum.org
Oklahoma State Fair, Sept. 12-22, Oklahoma State Fair Park, NW 10th and May Avenue, Oklahoma City. Adult admission, $9. okstatefair.com/
Tulsa State Fair, Sept. 26-Oct. 6, Expo Square. This is Tulsa’s largest annual event with rides, concerts, crafts, food and livestock. www.tulsastatefair.com