Although Michigan is known for making cars, in a broader sense it is an agricultural state. The Tulip Time Festival and the National Cherry Festival are two the the most popular agrarian festivals in the country. In the fall, harvest festivals are the signature celebrations in greater Detroit. Apple Annie, Oktoberfest’s Schuhplattler Männer in Trachten, leaping leprechauns in the Irish Potato Festivals and Miss Strawberry Shortcake are familiar icons of harvest jamborees in our area. There is an autumn harvest fair every weekend in Michigan during the fall, but finding the time to visit all of them is next to impossible. These are some fall festivals you don’t want to miss.
Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village
Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford
20900 Oakwood Blvd
Dearborn, MI 48124
thehenryford.orgDate: October 12-14, 19-21 and 26-28
Greenfield Village operates a working farm from the late 1800s, ablaze with vibrant reds, oranges, yellows and browns. Costumed docents demonstrate canning, soap making, weaving, spinning and iron mongering during the daylight but on October weekend nights, 800 carved pumpkins fringe the walkways as Disney-esque goblins and witches come out of the cornfields to recreate Hallowe’en. Eleven treat stations line the winding path where costumed guests hold out their trick-or-treat bags to receive quality loot. Past gifts have included Beanie Baby vampires and dark chocolate pirate coins. Hay wagons ferry guests to and fro, while vendors sell old-fashioned cider and hot caramel-coated apples. The Headless Horseman from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” pursues Ichabod Crane throughout the evening, mounted upon a rather sinister-looking black stallion in a manner that would make even Washington Irving tremble convulsively.
“Merry-not-scary” Zoo Boo
The Detroit Zoo
8450 W 10 Mile Road
Royal Oak, MI 48067
Date: October 12-14, 19-21 and 26-28The Shirley Temple version of Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village is the “Merry-not-scary” Zoo Boo. It is designed to introduce children to fall-inspired food and beverages, trick-or-treating and of course, our animal friends. This event is held at night but a day-time fall festival weekend kicks off the month, October 6 and 7, where kid-friendly activities like the amazing straw maze, pumpkin painting, hay rides, face painting and food and beverages are featured.
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Main St between Ann Arbor Trail and Penniman Ave
Plymouth, MI 48170
plymouthfallfestival.comDate: September 7-9The very word “Plymouth” conjures images of The Mayflower, pilgrims and Thanksgiving for a successful harvest. The Plymouth Fall Festival is the epitome of harvest celebrations in the Detroit area. The humongous event is the bountiful crop originally sewn in 1956 as a community picnic, cultivated yearly until it reached city-wide magnitude. Now featuring a gigantic taste fest, pork in the park BBQ jamboree, spaghetti dinners, pancake breakfasts, music stages, car shows, craft shows and carnival thrill rides, this sensational shindig has everything to offer the autumnal party animal in everyone.
26000 Evergreen Road
Southfield, MI 48076
iimd.orgDate: October 5-7This fall festival is like taking a whirlwind tour of the world in three days – singers, dancers and storytellers from all corners of the world share their music, art, national dishes, crafts, jewelry and mementos. Formerly known as “Old World Market” when hosted by the International Institute of Detroit, the Southfield venue is considerably larger, with ample free parking and situated close to freeways. Performers in ethnic costumes make this gala showcase of nations one of the brightest and boldest expos in the midwest. Those who wish to practice a foreign language or join a new cultural club will find this festival to be a perfect opportunity for meeting new friends.
For a drive outside the city:
601 Weiss St
Frankenmuth, MI 48734
frankenmuthfestivals.comDate: September 20-23Who let the dogs out? Hundreds of dachshunds racing as if the last wienerschnitzel on earth was up for grabs is only one of the spirited events on tap this fall during Oktoberfest (traditionally held each September). Michigan’s Little Bavaria serves up authentic German fare and Deutsche Band Musik all day long at this highly “spirited” brew fest. Costumed folk in traditional Bavarian lederhosen and dirndls dance merrily throughout the town while tourists snap up charming souvenirs like textiles imprinted with “willkommen” and hex signs laden with colorful oak leaves, rosettes and distelfinks. This is the merriest of festivals in the Detroit region and guests are encouraged to clink and clank their steins as they toast ”Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit” in celebration of community.
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Romero Anton Montalban-Anderssen is the winner of the 2009 first prize in journalism from the Detroit Working Writers Organization. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from Wayne State University School of Law. He has seasonal residency in Detroit Michigan, The Italian Riviera, and Honolulu Hawaii. His work can be found at Examiner.com.