Break out the sweaters and roll out the pumpkins—fall is here again, and with it, a bevvy of family-friendly harvest festivals. In the Portland area, we’re lucky to be surrounded by agriculture of all kinds, from the apple orchards of Hood River to pumpkin patches on Sauvie Island. Pick any weekend in September or October, and get ready to press cider, pet goats, choose a pumpkin to carve, or even watch a pumpkin boat race! Read on for all the deets.

photo by unsplash

West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta

15 years on, and it’s still thrilling to watch costumed competitors paddle giant pumpkins on Tualatin Lake. (Like, actual pumpkins, hollowed out into actual boats. Are you with me?) The Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers supply the enormous gourds for this annual pumpkin boat race, open to paddlers over 18 chosen during a pre-event selection process. Besides cheering on the racers, there’s plenty for little ones to do, with children’s costume contests, pumpkin bowling, pie-eating contests, giant pumpkin weigh-offs, live music and great food. Don’t miss it.

Oct. 19, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Free admission
Tualatin Lake of the Commons
8325 SW Nyberg St.
Tualatin, OR
Online: tualatinoregon.gov/pumpkinregatta

Flock and Fiber Festival

For something off the well-beaten corn-maze path, head to Canby and check out this craft-centered weekend festival honoring the art of natural fibers. Visit the sheep, goats, and llamas; participate in a make-and-take workshop; and wander the marketplace to admire a wide range of handmade goods, from felted clothing to woven baskets. Kids’ activities, a cook-off, and a goat obstacle course round out the weekend.

Sep. 28-29; Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sun. 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Free admission
Clackamas County Event Center
694 NE 4th Avenue
Canby, OR
Online: oregonflockandfiberfestival.com

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Hood River Valley Harvest Fest

For the classic fall festival experience, with all the fresh produce, pumpkin-carving contests, and apple cider you could ask for, this is one of the region’s best. Your kids will enjoy the bouncy house and rock wall, along with other kids’ activities, while you can browse from a wide range of goods created by local artisans, and sip on local wine and beer. Extend your trip with a visit to any of the area’s many farms along the historic Fruit Loop, most of which will be offering harvest specials of their own.

Oct. 11-13, Fri. 1-6 p.m.. Sat. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
$8/adults; $4/seniors & active military on Fri., $6 on Sat. & Sun.; free for children under 12
Hood River Event Site
North of Exit 63 off Interstate 84
Hood River, OR
Online: hoodriver.org

Portland Nursery Apple Tasting

This yearly event is a standby for locals: a great chance to get in the spirit of the season, tastebuds first. Go beyond your Fuji and Gala lunchbox staples and expand your palate as you sample over 60 varieties of apples and pears. You can decide on your favorites and purchase by the pound. There’s a lot to see and do, with fresh cider-pressing, live music, food vendors, and even a scarecrow contest. (Check the website for more on how to participate.) The kids’ tent features pumpkin painting, games, and a scavenger hunt, while Wandering Aengus Cider offers the grown-ups a taste of their hard ciders.

Fri.-Sun. Oct 12-14, Fri.-Sun. Oct. 19-21, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
5050 SE Stark St.
Portland, OR
Online: portlandnursery.com

photo: apple tasting via flickr

OMSI Harvest Festival

Explore the harvest from a different angle: science! This free event in the parking lot of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry offers kids’ activities all day long, plus construction equipment, llamas (!!), food and beers, and live entertainment. Your little scientists can explore plant families and compare seeds, make their own seed bombs, and use a refractometer to measure the sweetness of cherries. Plus, check out cooking demonstrations and booths from local farms and CSAs.

Mon. Sep. 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Free; $5 parking fee. Museum admission not included.
1945 SE Water Ave
Portland, OR
Online: omsi.edu

Oktoberfest at Oaks Park

Touted as the most kid-friendly German festival in the northwest, this local spin on the classic tradition welcomes children during all event hours and locations. But on Saturday and Sunday, you can enjoy “kinderplatz:” special kids’ activities like arts and crafts, a dance party, and performances from local kindie musicians. Meanwhile, you can get your fill of polka bands, Bavarian dancers, and of course, beer.

Fri.-Sun. Sep 21-23
7805 SE Oaks Park Way,
Portland, OR
Online: oaksoktoberfest.com

Cedar Mill Cider Fest

This is a celebration of local pioneer history as much as a celebration of fresh-pressed cider, with opportunities to learn about early settlers, hosted by the Cedar Mill Historical Society. The Boy Scouts of Troop 208 will once again man the antique press, turning apples into delicious non-alcoholic cider, free to taste. Food and craft vendors, live music, and games and activities for kids round out the day.

Sat. Sep. 22, 1-4 p.m.
John Quincy Adams Young House Grounds
12050 NW Cornell
Cedar Mills, Or
Online: cedarmill.org/ciderfestival

photo: cider press via flickr

Cider Squeeze at the Philip Foster Farm

Want to press your own apples? Bring your own to the historic Philip Foster Farm to press up to two gallons to take home with you. Enjoy live music, folk dancing, and kids’ activities. Learn about the farm’s pioneer history as you tour the houses, build a log cabin, and use an old-fashioned laundry scrub board and wringer. There’s even blacksmithing demonstrations. Also check the website for details on bulk squeezing hours, if you want to press even more cider.

Sat. Sept. 21st, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Up to 2 gallons cider per family)
$5/person or $20/family
Philip Foster Farm
22725 SE Eagle Creek Rd.
Eagle Creek, OR
Online: philipfosterfarm.com

-Melissa Poulin

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