This is the first weekend of the State Fair, and many of you need to read no further. Turkey legs and fried Snickers bars await.
This week’s column is for those families who want to avoid the crowds and expense of the fair on opening weekend. Here are a few quieter and more affordable options, for those of you who can persuade your children to skip the fair:
• Raleigh’s Logan Trading Company will hold a free Harvest Day Saturday at its sprawling outdoor shop. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., kids can feast on popcorn, cotton candy and cider, play games, jump in a bouncy house, take hay rides, paint pumpkins and help create a “Tree of Thanks.” For a $5 donation to charity, you can also build your own scarecrow for your home garden. You bring the clothes and the rest is supplied.
Also, dress your dog up in a Halloween costume and bring him along. At 3 p.m., the crowd will vote for the best-dressed dog. After the awards, join in a dog costume parade.
• In Durham, Duke Gardens will have free drop-in activities 1-3 p.m. Saturday in its newly opened Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden. If you haven’t seen the new garden yet, it’s a small-scale farm with vegetable and fruit plants, a tobacco barn and a chicken coop. It focuses on helping families learn sustainable gardening practices – and see that food doesn’t just come from the grocery store. Organizers promise demonstrations, stories and hands-on projects Saturday. While you’re there, enjoy the rest of the gorgeous gardens and ponds too – a great activity for any day.
• At Blue Jay Point County Park on Falls Lake, a new natural play area will open Saturday. From 1 to 3 p.m., there will be face painting, cookies, a scavenger hunt and other free kids’ activities. Any time of the day, you can enjoy the park’s two playgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, fishing areas and nature center.
• Last, if your kids are interested in theater, Applause! Cary Youth Theater will perform the play “Liza and the Riddling Cave” at the Cary Arts Center this weekend. Shows are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. The award-winning play is set in Appalachia, and the star is Liza, a misunderstood girl who can’t speak. After her father is lost in a flood, Liza solves the mystery of his disappearance. The adventure involves ghosts and a cave inside mysterious “Ice Mountain.” Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 5 and younger.