A Feast of Fall Festivals

With plenty of festivals on the horizon, celebrating everything from pumpkins to vikings, you'll never be in short supply of fall activities.

Hayriders leaf peep at Four Sisters Winery in Belvidere.
Photo by Scott Jones

The Great Pumpkin Train
September 28-October 27: Delaware River Railroad Excursions, based in Phillipsburg, hosts a scenic ride on a steam train through the foliage of western New Jersey. The train stops at a pumpkin patch at the historic 18th-century Carpentersville Lime Kilns, where children can pick their own pumpkin for free. 11 am, 12:30, 2 and 3:30 pm. Adults, $17; children, $9. Trains depart 99 Elizabeth St, Phillipsburg (732-752-8586)

Pick-Your-Own Weekends at Four Sisters Winery

October 4-27: Get in on the fall harvest by picking your own apples and pumpkins every weekend in October at Matarazzo Farms. Select from seven acres of apple trees and a six-acre pumpkin patch, then take a breather on a hayride around the 250-acre farm. You can also explore the five-acre corn maze ($5), take a vineyard and wine-cellar tour, or place an order for some of owner Matty Matarazzo’s highly touted barbecued chicken. County Road 519, Belvidere (908-475-3671)

Highlands 13th Annual Oktoberfest
October 5: The celebration features authentic German food, dancing, music and plenty of beer. Executive chef Butch Greenwaldt, formerly of Hofbrauhaus in Atlantic Highlands, prepares classics like bratwurst, goulash, potato pancakes and Bavarian noodles. The fun continues with a Best Dressed contest in traditional German costume and a Beer Stein Holding competition with cash prizes. 2-9 pm. Free. Veterans Park, Highlands.

Cranberry Harvest Tours at Whitesbog
October 7, 9, 21, 23: Let fifth-generation cranberry farmer Brenda Conner guide you through the cranberry harvest on an active farm. The tour meets at Whitesbog Village General Store and visits the flooded bog to watch the floating berries being raked in, then follows the berries to the cleaning facility where they are prepared for delivery. Tours begin at 8:30 am. $35. 120 N. Whitesbog Road, Browns Mills (609-893-1765)

10th Annual South Jersey Pumpkin Show

October 11-13: This family-oriented festival at the Salem County Fairgrounds features thousands of brightly painted pumpkins and more than 50 handcrafted scarecrows. Opening night includes the lighting of the giant pumpkin pyramid and the headless horseman. Don’t miss other special events like the Little Miss and Mister Pumpkin Pageant and the Pumpkin Dessert Baking Contest. First 100 kids each day get a free pumpkin. Admission $5 per car. 735 Harding Highway, Woodstown

Sussex County Harvest, Honey and Garlic Festival
October 12: Head to the Sussex County Fairgrounds as the Sussex County Beekeepers Association and the Garden State Garlic Growers put together a farmers’ market of epic proportions. Fresh produce will be sold alongside local honey and garlic products. 10 am-4 pm. Free. 37 Plains Road, Augusta (973-948-5500)

Cape May Wine Festival
October 12-13: Sponsored by the Garden State Wine Growers Association, the Cape May Wine Festival spreads across the lawn of the historic Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal for the seventh consecutive year. Prepare your palate to sample more than 300 award-winning wines (okay, maybe not all 300) from 24 wineries, including Cava Winery, Renault Winery, Auburn Road Vineyards and Chestnut Run Farm. Noon-5 pm. Admission $25 per day, $40 for two-day pass, fee includes wine-tasting glass. Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal, 1200 Lincoln Blvd

Brite Nites at Wagner Farms Arboretum
October 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27: More than 1,500 jack-o-lanterns will illuminate the garden paths of Wagner Farms Arboretum for the Fourth Annual Brite Nite festivities. Head to the Black Hat Café for hot cider and pumpkin treats or explore the haunted house bristling with monsters and creatures. 6:45-8 pm. $7–12. 197 Mountain Avenue, Warren (908-350-7383)

Last Fling Pumpkin Sling
October 19-20: In honor of the 2014 Super Bowl, to be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, the fourth annual Pumpkin Sling will challenge junior high and high school students to build a catapult or trebuchet to sling a football the farthest. Plus the usual feats of pumpkin hurling. 9 am-6 pm. Adults, $6; children 5-12, $4; parking, $2 per car. Millbrook Farm, 538 Montana Road, Harmony Township (908-283-0721)

Chatsworth Cranberry Festival
October 19-20: Chatsworth, a small community in the Pine Barrens dotted with quaint colonial buildings, has been cultivating cranberries since the late 1800s. Now in its 30th year, the town’s Cranberry Festival will raise money to preserve the local White Horse Inn. Attractions will include a visit from the wolves at Howling Woods Farm in Jackson, (recently featured in the Disney’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice). There will be an antique car show on Sunday and daily performances by Southern rock group Bullzeye Band. 9 am-4 pm. Free ($5 donation appreciated). Downtown Chatsworth along Route 523, Woodland Township (609-726-9237)

Winternights Viking Festival
October 20: Period dress (the period being the 8th through 11th centuries) and costumes are encouraged; authentic Nordic bread, cheeses and Swedish meatballs will be served; and Old Norse poetry, fairytales, dancing and music will spice things up. The festival honors the Nordic gods and seeks their protection from the coming winter. 11 am-5:30 pm. Adults, $3; seniors, $2; children 12 and under, free. Nordic House, 233 Route 94, Vernon (845-545-5762)

Glassboro Craft Beer Festival
October 26: Live entertainment and food vendors add enjoyment to the beer from more than 20 breweries, including Dogfish Head, Firestone Walker, 21st Amendment, Smuttynose, Blue Moon, Harpoon, Sierra Nevada and Lancaster. 1-5 pm. $30 in advance, $35 at the gate; Rowan Boulevard, Glassboro

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