Many people call it Halloween. For others, it’s a fall festival. Whatever you call it, it’s a time for special events and things to do in your area.
Some are a bit frightening and geared toward adults. Others are fun and feature activities for children. There might be games, treats and maybe a few scares, but there’s something for everyone.
And while Halloween is at the end of October, many events start much sooner. You have a whole month to find fun activities for the entire family.
Here’s a rundown of treats (no tricks) happening this month:
Fall Family Festival at Saint Leo University. The university, 33701 State Road 52, will host a number of activities Oct. 9 through Oct. 11. There are free and low-cost athletic events, like volleyball and soccer. But the real treats start Oct. 10 at 11 a.m., when Saint Leo will host a free fair at The Bowl area (behind the Student Community Center) with plenty of family-oriented things to do. Children can enjoy an animal show, petting zoo, water races, a swing ride and other activities. It runs until 3 p.m.
Another fun event takes place on campus Oct. 10 at 9:30 p.m. There will be a fireworks grand finale at The Bowl to cap off a weekend of events. And it’s free to attend.
Technically, the last event occurs Oct. 11 at 11 a.m., also at The Bowl. The university will host a 5K walk/run to benefit the Make-A-Wish foundation.
For more information about the race and a list of events for the Family Fall Festival, visit SaintLeo.edu/FallFamily.
Scarecrow Festival at Florida Pioneer Museum. The museum, 15602 Pioneer Museum Road, hosts this scarecrow-themed event on Oct. 10 for the third year in a row, after taking it over from Downtown Dade City Main Street. Thousands of people attend each October, and they expect this year’s event to be no different.
Crafts, community booths and food vendors will be on hand, but there’s a lot more to the Scarecrow Festival than that. Like making scarecrows, for example. For $3, children can use hay and clothing, provided by the museum, to make a scarecrow to take home.
There will also be a Touch-a-Truck area, where children can climb on firetrucks and TECO trucks, and see police and sheriff’s cars, and ambulances. A petting zoo, train rides, face painting, obstacle course and games with prizes are all part of the event, too.
But since this is the Scarecrow Festival, do you need more scarecrows? How about a scarecrow costume contest? There will be categories for best dressed scarecrow, cutest scarecrow and scariest scarecrow. So you can make one and be one at this event.
The Scarecrow Festival runs from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Admission is $5 with children younger than five years old admitted free. For more information, call (352) 567-0262, or visit PioneerFloridaMuseum.org.
Mr. Tommy’s Halloween Special at The Shops At Wiregrass. The Shops at Wiregrass, at 28211 Paseo Drive in Wesley Chapel, has a Halloween theme for its regular Kids Club event. On Oct. 28, it will have a “Princess & Pirate Party” at its parking structure. There will be bounce houses, a photo booth, cookie decorating and a costume parade. It’s a quick event, but a good way to take in a family-oriented celebration on a weekday morning.
Mr. Tommy’s Halloween Special runs from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. For more information and to join the free Kids Club, call (813) 994-2242, or visit TheShopsAtWiregrass.com.
Family Friendly Fun Day at Cobb Theatres. If you want to celebrate on Halloween without making a late night of it, consider the event at Cobb Theatres Grove 16, at 6333 Wesley Grove Blvd. in Wesley Chapel. Cobb is hosting a Family Friendly Fun Day on Oct. 31 from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m.
Children are encouraged to wear costumes (no masks) and enjoy treats, prizes and games. And for those with a Halloween hunger, the CineBistro, located upstairs, will have a special holiday-themed menu.
For more information, call (813) 948-5444, or visit CobbTheatres.com.
Fall Festival at The Grove. The Grove, 6105 Wesley Grove Blvd. in Wesley Chapel, has a full weekend of activities scheduled for Oct. 10 and Oct. 11. Live music, arts and crafts and free outdoor movies make up just part of the schedule.
Children’s activities include face painting and bounce houses, as well as screenings of “Frozen” and “Cars.” There also will be a pumpkin patch, a pet parade and pet adoptions as well.
One of the highlights will occur Oct. 11 at noon, when the “Little Miss and Mr. Pumpkin Patch Pageant” will take place. Contestants will wear fall-inspired or pumpkin-themed costumes or outfits. Semifinalists will be chosen across three age groups, with one boy and one girl named Little Miss and Mr. Pumpkin Patch. The winners will receive $100, a sash and a trophy. Semifinalists will receive a trophy, and all participants will receive a goodie bag.
The Fall Festival runs Oct. 10 from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., and Oct. 11 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. The pageant is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel and costs $20 per entry. For a full Fall Festival schedule, visit the Wesley Chapel Fall Festival Facebook page. For information about the pageant or to sign up, call (813) 843-2354, or email Kelly Mothershead at .
Scream-A-Geddon. This one isn’t for the faint of heart. While many events have a little spookiness wrapped up in family fun, this is an all-out fright fest. Located at 27839 Saint Joe Road in Dade City, the attractions have names like “Cursed Hayride,” “Dead Woods” and “Infected.” The goal is to be as ghoulish and scary as possible.
But wait; there’s more. Like most haunted attractions, the actors don’t actually touch you. But if you participate in “Pandemic” and choose the interactive portion, it’s a different story. You might actually be grabbed and sent into a cell. That option takes things beyond the level of established attractions like “Howl-O-Scream” at Busch Gardens or “Halloween Horror Nights” and Universal Studios in Orlando.
You don’t have to choose that route, of course. You can decide to simply observe, which means you’re hands-off to the monsters inside. But, it’s still a scary event with five separate haunted attractions.
And that doesn’t count the Monster Midway, which includes games, food, beer, fire pits and tarot card readings. This is Halloween fun for people who like to be scared. But just in case, each attraction has emergency exits if things get a little too intense.
This might be the scariest event in the area, so they’re expecting big crowds. Enter at your own risk.
Scream-A-Geddon is open Thursdays through Sundays until Nov. 1. The cost ranges from $34.95 to $51.95 if you purchase online, depending on when you go. Tickets cost an additional $5 at the gate. Parking is $10, and fast passes, which allow you to spend less time in line, are available at an extra cost.
For more information, call (813) 452-5412, or visit ScreamAGeddon.com.
Published September 30, 2015