Looking for something more exciting than pumpkin spice, Oktoberfests and leaf-peeping to shake up your plans this fall?

Consider adding one of these audacious autumnal experiences to your calendar: a squirrel cook off in Arkansas, ukulele festival in Florida, caterpillar races in North Carolina or the annual wife-carrying contest in Maine. For the month of Elktober, you’ll find randy elks bugling their mating calls in Colorado. Or perhaps you’d like to turn your feet purple at a winery grape-stomping event.

Here’s a random sample of fall fun around the country from classics to events that are just a little bit wacky.



World Championship Squirrel Cook Off, 8th Street Market, Bentonville, Arkansas, Sept. 16, 

Whoopie Pie Festival, Hershey Farm Restaurant & Inn, Strasburg, Pennsylvania, Sept. 9,

Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Sept. 27-Oct. 1,

Wild Mushroom Celebration, Long Beach Peninsula, Washington, Oct. 1-Nov. 15,

Kentucky Bourbon Festival, Bardstown, Kentucky, Sept. 11-17,

World Chicken Festival, London, Kentucky, Sept. 21-24, (celebrates Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Sanders, featuring chicken fried in the world’s largest skillet)

National Shrimp Festival, Gulf Shores, Alabama, Oct. 12-15,

Truck Stop Food Truck Rally, Welton Street, Denver, Sept. 30,

PA Bacon Fest, Easton, Pennsylvania, Nov. 4-5,



Woolly Worm Festival, Banner Elk, North Carolina, Oct. 21-22, (two days of races featuring more than 2,000 woolly bear caterpillars)

Narrowsburg Honey Bee Fest, Narrowsburg, New York, Sept. 23,

Estes Park Elk Fest, Estes Park, Colorado, Sept. 30-Oct. 1,

Alpaca Festival, Buck Brook Alpaca Farm, Roscoe, New York, Sept. 23

Buffalo Roundup, Custer State Park, South Dakota, Sept. 29,

Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium, Springfield, Missouri, opening Sept. 21,

Trailing of the Sheep Festival, Ketchum and Hailey, Idaho, Oct. 4-8, (includes parade of 1,500 sheep)



American Wife Carrying Championship, Sunday River Resort, Newry, Maine, Oct. 7,

Strummin’ Man Ukulele Festival, Panama City, Florida, Oct. 13-15,

Purple Foot Festival, Casa Larga Vineyards, Fairport, New York, Sept. 17, (grape stomping)

Susan B. Anthony corn maze, Stokoe Farms, Scottsville, New York, opening Sept. 23, (maze depicts Anthony, the women’s rights activist who lived in nearby Rochester, honoring 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in New York)

Return of the Pumpkin People, Jackson, New Hampshire, throughout October, (displays of pumpkins dressed as people)

Pumpkin Nights, in Twin Cities, Minnesota; Auburn, California, and Salt Lake City, Oct. 13-Oct. 29 , / (walking trail featuring hundreds of hand-carved, lit-up pumpkins)

Appalachian Mural Trail, towns along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, (murals tell stories of communities along the parkway)



Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, Cincinnati, Sept. 15-17,

Great Vermont Corn Maze, Danville, Vermont, open through Oct. 15. (recommended arrival before 1 p.m. to get through massive, complex maze)

Cranberry festivals: Warrens, Wisconsin, Sept. 22-24, , and Wareham, Massachusetts, Oct. 7-8,

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Oct. 7-15,

National Crafts & Cowboy Festival, Silver Dollar City, Branson, Missouri, Sept. 13-Oct. 28,

Circleville Pumpkin Show, Circleville, Ohio, Oct. 18-21,

Bridge Day, New River Gorge, West Virginia, Oct. 21, (participants leap, float and rappel from bridge)

Cruisin’ the Coast, Mississippi Gulf Coast, Oct. 1- 8, (antique and classic cars),-Elktober,-purple-feet