Harvest festivals are like a warm-up to Halloween. You don't need a costume, but you can find inspiration for one amidst all the face-painting and pumpkin carving. Plus, you can celebrate fall without traveling far, since all of these are in Brooklyn and Queens.
Despite the iffy forecast for Saturday, Added Value's Harvest Festival at Red Hook Community Farm is rain or shine, and has enough goodies to lure you away from home. Free activities include a bee-keeping demo, pony rides, face-painting, a pick-your-own pumpkin patch and pumpkin carving, chickens and bunnies on loan from Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, and musicians like Rebel Diaz, fresh from a Venezuelan tour where they were invited by Hugo Chavez. The only thing not free is the food, which is reason enough to come: expect pumpkin pizza and homemade sausages from iCi, dumplings and gumbo from The Good Fork, fresh Carribean fare from Fauzia Delight's, a Vendy Awards finalist, Lobster Rolls from The Lobster Pound, and more nibbles from Rice and Kevin's. 10am-5pm, rain or shine, Van Dyke and Ostego Streets (across from Ikea), Red Hook. Directions>>
Each year Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City picks a different theme for its free, art-filled harvest festival, and this year it's Dia de los Muertos, which falls on Nov. 2. Using found materials that the Free Style Arts Association supplies, kids can create ceremonial objects like paper flowers, wooden skeletons and skull masks that will adorn a giant altar to honor the dead. There will also be costume-making workshops, face-painting, and two performances of "Hood: A Tale of Robin and his Merry Men" at 11:30 and 2pm. (How this relates to the Day of the Dead is something I didn't fact-check.) There is plenty to entertain you, too: Mexican roots musician Rana Santacruz will be performing, along with DJ Marcelo C. Baez, who spins new and old Spanish-sung music. Empanadas and fare from local sandwich shop Breadbox will be on sale, and the canine costume contest will usher in the Halloween season. 11am-2pm, Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Boulevard at Broadway, Long Island City, Queens. Directions>>
Saturday, October 30
Prospect Farm's first Harvest Festival is a bit of an overstatement: they do have some home-grown produce to celebrate, but it's not edible because they're still remediating the soil on this 5,000-square-foot Windsor Terrace farm. So they're making the best out of a (currently) bad plot, and raising awareness of the farm as they prepare for a full growing season next year. A science teacher will be coordinating gardening games to help kids I.D. their veggies and learn to compost. There'll also be traditional fun like face-painting, squash decorating and a bluegrass band. Tasting cups from the farm's soup cook-off will be on sale for $5 per. (Contestants have to use at least one locally sourced ingredient in it, and make enough for 8-12 people. To enter, email email@example.com.) A bake sale and raffle filled with prizes from local shops, bars, and restaurants like Sycamore will also help fund the farm's efforts. 11am-4pm, 1194 Prospect Ave, btwn Vanderbilt and Seeley St., Windsor Terrace. F Train to Ft. Hamilton, exit towards Prospect Ave/Greenwood. Map>>
Saturdays and Sundays through November 7
Queens County Farm isn't throwing a Harvest Festival, but they do have the only corn maze in the city, and this Saturday they're open until 9pm for their Maze by Moonlight tour, which is best for tweens and up. The bad weather forecast could actually work in your favor, since the lines and parking have been horrendous according to a few upset Yelpers. One offers a great tip: stop at the bathrooms before entering--it could take you a while to make your way through the 3-acre labyrinth. The easiest (but not cheapest) public transport option is the Long Island Rail Road, which is roughly $13 RT, per person, from Atlantic Terminal to Floral Park Station; call Triple-A car service (516-328-8888) to pick you up; it's a $9, 15-minute ride from there. The Amazing Maize Maze, Saturdays and Sundays 11am-4:30pm, $8 per person for ages 12 and up, Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park, Queens, 11004-1129. Directions>>
Brooklyn Based Kids delivers free weekly emails like the one above. Want BB Kids in your inbox?Sign up here.