Memory making fall getaways that grandchildren will love (and will give their parents a breather) are out there for the picking. You can take a train ride, a hay ride, pick pumpkins to carry home, and listen to tall tales told by expert storytellers outside under the bright autumn sky. Below are some special treats in the Durango, Farmington area to put on your calendar.
For two weekends in October, the 15-16thand 22-23rd, the Durango Silverton Narrow Gage Railroad offers a diesel train ride to a special pumpkin patch where the kids can meet Charlie Brown, Lucy and Snoopy. They can also pick up a perfect pumpkin for Halloween. WOW! And there is more fun at the pumpkin patch: games, a straw-bale maze, music and a bounce house. This event is geared for all children, including pre-schoolers. Tickets are required for anyone aged two years and up, $24 for children and $32 for adults. There are two morning trains. The stay at the pumpkin patch is about three hours. Food will be for sale and there will be many photo opportunities. http://www.durangotrain.com/events/2011-peanuts%E2%84%A2-great-pumpkin-patch-express
Southerland Farms just outside of Aztec, N.M., between Durango and Farmington, is a family-run farm with many events. However, the best family outings are on October weekends during the Pumpkin Festival when there are hay rides to the field to pick pumpkins, games, a corn pit, barrel train rides, and a petting zoo. While the kids are occupied, you can stock up on seasonal produce like apples, cider, winter squash, chili and corn. The Southerland Farm website has an update for what is available. Admission to the Pumpkin Festival, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on October weekends, is $5.00 for those 12 years and older and includes the hay ride, maize maze, corn pit and animals. There are fees for some other activities like the barrel train. http://www.sutherlandfarms.net/id16.html
Above all be sure to take your grand kids to the Four Corners Storytelling Festival in Farmington, N.M. on the weekend of October 14th – 15th. This will be much better than a bedtime story! All comers will enjoy the traditional tales from around the world told by expert storytellers in big tents beside the Animas River. Both evenings there will be more tall tales told at the Totah Theater in downtown Farmington. Expect traditional Navajo stories, cowboy poetry and Hispanic cuentos as well as folk tales from Asia and Scandinavia. Programs for school children begin on Friday morning in Berg Park at River Reach Terrace. On Saturday, the festival continues at Berg Park from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and closes that evening again at the Totah Theater. Everyone is invited, and the price is right. It’s free. http://www.infoway.org/storytelling/2011/index.asp