Summer vacation may be over, but the fun doesn’t have to be. The warm September weekends are perfect for a day trip to one of northern Indiana’s fall festivals. There’s something for everyone to enjoy, and all are located just over an hour’s drive from the city.
Wizard of Oz Festival Sept. 14-16, Chesterton (47 miles) ozfestivalchesterton.com
Follow the most famous brick road in movie history to Calumet and Broadway in downtown Chesterton. Race in the Emerald City Hustle or celebrate Dorothy’s birthday (girls can even get their hair braided like Dorothy). Enter the Look-Alike Contest or the Wicked Witch Cackling Contest, and by all means, don’t miss The Horse of a Different Color Parade on Saturday morning. Hours vary; check website for a complete schedule of events and times. General admission is free, but some events require pre-registration and a small fee.
LaPorte Pioneer Days Sept. 22-23, Michigan City (60 miles) laportecountyparks.org
Step back into another era as you mingle with historically clad re-enactors. Dip candles or make a tin punch design; sample fry bread, kettle corn, and beans with ham; take a wagon ride and top the afternoon off with a cup of cold root beer. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for kids under 12 and seniors. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. The festival takes place at Creek Ridge County Park, 7943 W. 400 North, Michigan City (2 miles east of U.S. 421).
Wanatah Scarecrow Festival Sept. 21-23, Wanatah (64 miles) scarecrowfest.org
Everybody loves a scarecrow, especially the folks in Wanatah. They want you to know that ™whether you are 3 or 93, you’re sure to find lots to enjoy.∫ The festival features rides for children, a parade, fun runs, music and variety acts, and scarecrow sculpting. Check their website for a complete list of events and times. Admission is free and everything takes place in downtown Wanatah at the junction of U.S. 30 and U.S. 421.
Westville Pumpkin Festival Sept. 28-30, Westville (59 miles)
Whether you like to stew them, bake them, paint them or carve them, make your way to Westville for all things pumpkin. A pumpkin festival parade kicks off the fun, followed by pie-eating contests, bingo, tractor pulls, music and an auto show. There will be plenty of pumpkin treats and other goodies for purchase. The festival takes place at Prairie Meadow Park at the north junction of U.S. 421 and U.S. 6. Admission is free. Hours are 4-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday; 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Currently there is no website available.