Off the Beaten Path

Fall Outings You Need to Know About

Autumn is upon us, with the crisp mornings, the leaves beginning their metamorphosis from green to golden browns, reds and yellows, and the smell of bonfires in the air. Before the weather turns once again and we become grumpy with the snow and ice, let’s take some time to enjoy the local events our community provides.


Most of us are aware of apple festivals, parades, and the Shipshewana Flea Market (which is open this year until October 26th, by the way), but we’ve found some new and exciting places to visit which you might not have heard of yet.


The Chapel Hill Arts & Crafts Show in Berrien Springs

October starts off strong with the Chapel Hill Arts & Crafts Show in Berrien Springs. Sponsored by the Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, local buzz claims this is the best Arts & Crafts show in the area.

It happens on October 1st at the Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Your $1.00 admissions fee, which goes to support mission projects through the church, gets you access to over 280 exhibitors, vendors and an outdoor “farmer’s market.” Food, drinks, snacks and pie by the slice are all available, in addition to homemade baked goods for sale. The event itself is run by parishioners who donate their time, money, baked goods and effort to the cause.

The Chapel Hill Arts & Crafts show began in 1980 and has grown from a small event put on by the women’s group to an attendance of around 8,000 today, over 30 years later. This is a must-see, and you can’t beat the price.

Chapel Hill Arts & Crafts Show is held at the Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds, 9122 Old US 31 N, Berrien Springs, MI, 49103


Pumpkin Fantasyland

Next, how can you pass up a place called Pumpkin Fantasyland? For only a $2.00 admission for people of all ages and free parking, you can enjoy what folks in and around Ligonier have been attending for 38 years. Located at Fashion Farm, you’ll enjoy hayrides, mazes, food booths and the main attraction, which is an incredible display of pumpkins, gourds and squash made into people and animals. “This year, our theme “Games and Toys” will be especially attractive with Mr. Potato Head, Candyland, and dolls of all sorts,” says Patty Becker, co-owner of Fashion Farm. “We also have all of the presidents, which has been a tradition all of our years.”

Refreshments are available, and there is a full-service restaurant on site, but people are also allowed to bring picnic lunches and eat on the lawn if they prefer. Available for purchase are gifts, candy, pumpkins, gourds, squash and an array of pumpkin decorations. “Charlie Pumpkin was the creator,” explains Becker, “and his vision for “all us kids” is still visible today with the creativity, fun and enjoyment of being on the farm.”

Pumpkin Fantasyland is open daily until 7 p.m. from October 1st to October 31st , and is fun for all ages. There are no scary attractions, and the hayrides are even wheelchair accessible with sturdy, enclosed sides. With an annual attendance of roughly 10,000, it’s great for the whole family!

Pumpkin Fantasyland is located at Fashion Farm, 1680 Lincolnway West, Ligonier, Indiana, 46767


Elvis FANtasy Fest

Last, but certainly not least, what about those of us who are less than thrilled by autumn and all it entails, and just want to kick back, relax, and… listen to Elvis? But how can I listen to Elvis and support a local charity at the same time, you ask? Well, have we got a surprise for you! It’s the Elvis FANtasy Fest!

For one weekend, October 14-16, be transported back in time as you listen to concerts by tribute artists, enjoy the Elvis contest, sock hop, Friday dinner buffet, games, raffles, auction and the Elvis vendor convention. In the 19th year of this annual event, the Elvis FANtasy Fest averages around 1,500 in attendance for the weekend. This year, the special guest is D.J. Fontana, Elvis’s original drummer and member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and they will be celebrating 1956, a year of many milestones in Elvis’s career.

“Our goal for this event is to celebrate the life and music of Elvis Presley and at the same time raise money for charity emulating Elvis' own humanitarian ways,” says Kay Lipps, the general chairman/director of the FANfest. “In recent years, all proceeds have been donated to the Portage County Special Olympics. In previous years, we have donated to the Elvis Presley Charitable Foundation, The Med Foundation in Memphis, to the Elvis Presley Trauma Center and the Elvis Presley Memorial Dinner held in Memphis during Elvis Week. To date, we have given almost $280,000 to charity in remembrance of Elvis Presley.”

The pricing is more than reasonable, too. Cost for each concert session is between $15-$20 for general admission, or you can reserve a seat for only $5 more. Under 12 is free for general admission, so bring the kids, too, and let them in on the magic of the Elvis FANtasy Fest. On Friday night, the booths are open at no charge until the concert, and you can purchase Elvis memorabilia and merchandise.

Elvis FANtasy Fest is held at the Woodland Park Community Center, 2100 Willowcreek Road, Portage, IN, 46367


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