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Your Guide to Fall Activities in State College

With fall just around the corner, the leaves are starting to change colors, people are breaking out their warm clothes, and, like any other time of the year, State College will be hosting a ton of seasonal, non-drinking activities for people of all ages. Here’s the rundown of the things you can and should be looking forward to this fall in Happy Valley.

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Image: Penn State

Pumpkin Festival at H.O. Smith Botanical Gardens

If you thought the Arboretum was beautiful during the summer, you just wait until it’s filled with dozens of lit jack-o’-lanterns. You actually don’t have to wait too long because it’s coming up this Oct. 10 and 11. From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on that Friday, lighted jack-o’-lanterns will be on display, while Saturday (4 p.m. to 9 p.m.) will include festival activities, music, and food vendors. The best part of this event is that you can partake for free! Free pumpkins will be given away to contest entrants on Sunday, Oct. 5 starting at 1 p.m. until supplies last. You can register your pumpkin for the contest between 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 9, and from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 10. Contest rules and other information can be found at the Penn State Arboretum website.

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Dark in the Park at Sunset Park (850 McKee Street)

There’s really nothing quite like a campfire in the fall – when it’s cold enough to actually enjoy a fire. The Centre Region parks & Recreation and Schlow Centre Region Library will be cosponsoring the 19th Annual Dark in the Park event from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 15. Take advantage of a little relaxation while listening to a campfire story or two. However, you will have to provide your own munchies and blankets. More information can be found on its website.

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Downtown Fall Festival on Allen Street

Information on this event is pretty sparse but, since it takes place on Allen Street, one can only imagine that it’s similar to what goes on on Allen Street during Arts Fest. The event page on states that the 15th Annual will be hosting “lots of fun and games for the whole family.” This year’s iteration will take place on Saturday, Oct. 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. So, go check that out if you’re feeling adventurous.

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Punkin’ Chunkin’ at the Howard Volunteer Fire Co. Fall Festival

If you have a car or know someone with one, I can personally testify that this event is worth the 20-minute drive to Bald Eagle State Park (149 Main Park Road, Howard, PA). It will takes place on Saturday, Oct. 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is a sight to see. According to, it will include live bands, food and craft vendors, hayrides, pie eating contest, fire apparatus display, activities with the park naturalist, and “chunkin’ machines hurling punkins at floating targets in the lake”. Might I add that this festival is entirely free, although donations will be accepted to benefit the Howard Fire Company?

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Fall Harvest Festival at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center

If you’re a big fan of the fall season but are looking to spend it productively, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center hosts a Fall Harvest Festival featuring a Children’s Halloween Trail, which is a great opportunity for Penn State students to earn a bunch of volunteer hours. If you’re interested, contact Shaver’s Creek ASAP. If you’re just in it for the fun, that’s fine too. It hosts a slew of festival challenges, including harvest baking and pumpkin carving. According to the Shaver’s Creek webpage on the Fall Festival, “Festival goers can enter the baking challenge with their favorite fall-themed desserts [and] we will have pumpkins on hand awaiting your most creative carving skills for the carving contest.” You can download entry forms from the website but they’ll also be at the festival, which will be taking place on Oct. 18 and 19 at 11 a.m..

Just like any other special time of the year in Happy Valley, there’s dozens of ways to celebrate and these are only a few of the awesome things it has to offer this fall season. Check out some more here!

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