Fall perfect time for families to have fun

Kercher's Sunrise Orchard, Goshen, is an ideal place for kids and families to pick apples.
Kercher’s Sunrise Orchard, Goshen, is an ideal place for kids and families to pick apples.

By Amy Wenger

Brisk, brilliant mornings basked in sunshine, when the light of day reveals shades of coral, gold and flame crowning the trees and the skies. Welcome to autumn in northern Indiana, and the season of rich colors, Hoosier football and new variations on fantastical flavors of pumpkin and spice.

So what are some of the most memorable ways to seize the season with family? Do you find yourself still jonesing for some of the decadent carnival treats that helped put Elkhart County on the national map during the 4-H fair?

Look no further than the ceremonial celebration of fall at the Nappanee Apple Festival, which begins at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, and continues through Sunday, Sept. 18. Few things represent a symbol of Americana like a shiny red apple, and all of the various ways to savor its splendor will be in full regalia this weekend.

The annual Nappanee Apple Festival features all the apple-themed treats you can think of.
The annual Nappanee Apple Festival features all the apple-themed treats you can think of.

Whether guests choose to visit the craft booths, sample sumptuous dumplings and ciders, or see the vast variety of homespun entertainment, the open air environment in downtown Nappanee will surely beckon wanderers. This heralded tradition, now in its 41st year, has been designated an official Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Event for 2016.

For a more whimsical, interactive experience, take a spin throughout rural Elkhart County and make a stop in the region of New Paris, south of Goshen, and spend a day enchanting the children at Knollbrook Farm, 15463 C.R. 46.  Admission is just $7 per person.

Feel like a youngster once more in the twists and turns of the corn maze, see first-hand the operation of a real working dairy farm, make a stop at the farm market for the finest fall treats, and take home souvenir pumpkins, gourds and florals.

Anyone feeling particularly energized can challenge family and friends to lively competitions around the tricycle track, the trivia challenge or the new duck races. You can also test your prowess and the physics of aerodynamics with the pumpkin slingshot.

Kercher’s Sunrise Orchard along the outskirts of Goshen has been a longtime family institution since 1922. There, folks can gather all that they can carry of the lushest apples to be found in northern Indiana.  A stop at the market, 19498 C.R. 38, will reveal even more local favorites, spanning the spectrum from fruits and veggies to gifts and books.

Road construction in the region should not prove to be a deterrent to reaching the orchards. Visitors are allowed to drive around the barricades and enter off of C.R. 38 approaching from the west. That will also allow patrons to come back and see the upcoming Harvest Fest on Oct. 1-2, when there will be an abundance of food, fun and festivities, no cover charge, and free hayrides.

Linton’s Enchanted Gardens, 317 C.R. 17, Elkhart, is also commemorating the season of plenty in their own unique and breathtaking style. Linton’s will be hosting the 2016 Fall Carnival Days, both this coming weekend, Sept. 16-17, and again next weekend, Sept. 23-24. On those days, little ones can be dazzled by the petting zoo, pumpkin train rides or the swan paddle boats, to name just a few.

Meanwhile, everyone who attends is registered for drawings and prizes, including discounts from 50 to 100 percent. The festival will be held in tandem with Linton’s “Fall Frenzy” sale, with significant sale prices on plants, trees and shrubs. While the adults shop around, children can try their hand at gem mining, water orbs and a shooting gallery.

Just as there is much to see around scenic Elkhart County this fall, there is also a great deal to do as well.  Make plans to spend a day at any one of these or other local attractions, and make memories that will linger long after the final leaves have fallen.

Amy Wenger is a writer who lives in Nappanee.

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