The fall season is the best time of year, at least in my autumn-loving opinion. Mild days and cool nights – not too hot, not too cold – combine with the brilliant fall colors and wall-to-wall football on the weekends to make this the sweetest season of all.
It’s also one of the shortest. Fortunately, the Fox Valley Park District prolongs the pleasure with its annual Pumpkin Weekends at Blackberry Farm. During every weekend in October plus Columbus Day – nine days in all – fall is celebrated in its full glory.
With fall colors as the backdrop, a new and equally spectacular attraction will make its debut when the Adventure Playground opens to the public on Columbus Day weekend.
You may have seen it from Galena Boulevard during the construction phase. It’s a customized play structure with an extensive network of climbing decks, slides, ropes and catwalk-style bridges connecting an array of playhouses on multiple levels.
It also includes a 65-foot zip line that runs between a windmill and a water tower. In trial runs, the zip line was the hands-down favorite among the kids doing the testing.
“Most children have never experienced such a unique, innovative playground like this,” said Jeff Palmquist, director of planning, development and grants.
The elaborate play structure will appeal to children of all ages while providing a one-of-a-kind experience through education, history and physical fun.
“It’s a combination of interactive features; a hands-on farm museum integrated into a custom play structure where children go from deck-to-deck answering questions and learning about the history of pioneer life,” said Palmquist.
The new playground highlights a series of improvements made possible by the 2008 referendum that utilizes funds for community park improvements, among other projects. Included is a new, 2,500-square-foot picnic shelter that will serve as a performance stage for live entertainment and new, modern restrooms adjacent.
Earlier this summer, on the shore of Lake Gregory, a boathouse shelter/pavilion and dock were built.
Pumpkin Weekends offers one low admission price ($4) that includes unlimited rides on the train, carousel and hay wagon. Daily hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Columbus Day).
And If you’re feeling creative, take a train ride and visit the pumpkin patch at Blackberry, purchase your own pumpkin and paint it right there at the special decorating station.
My guess is that most of those pumpkins – and the children who decorate them – will leave Blackberry Farm with wide smiles.
Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District; contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Pumpkin Weekends, call Blackberry Farm at 630-892-1550.
Fox Valley Park District
Friday, Sept. 28: Mom & Son Dino Night at Eola Community Center, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 29: Daddy/Daughter Princess Pancake Breakfast at Prisco Community Center, 9:30 to 11 a.m.
Saturday, Sept. 29: Fox Valley Pop Stars at Prisco Community Center, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 5: Zombie Invasion 5K Run at Blackberry Farm, 5 p.m.
Columbus Day Weekend (Oct. 6-8): Pumpkin Weekends – and grand opening of the new Adventure Playground – at Blackberry Farm, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 7: Paws in the Park dog festival, Lincoln Park Dog Park, noon to 4 p.m.