This article was originally published in Living TC Magazine.
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” –Albert Camus
Of all my favorite fall traditions, what I like best is enjoying this beautiful season with my family. As soon as I get a sense of the first crisp of fall in the early morning air, I want to put my summer clothes away and get out my long jeans and sweaters. I light apple cinnamon candles, place a fall wreath on the door and stock my pantry with cans of Libby’s pumpkin for when I’m in the mood to bake sweets for my kids (and me, too). This fall for my family, I’m going to prepare a “Caramel Apple Bar”: you take sliced apples and insert a lollipop stick, then dip them in caramel and use cupcake pans filled with different sprinkles, mini-marshmallows, chopped nuts and mini chocolate chips. It’s a great way to get children involved.
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Other fall family traditions can include: nature walking on Bateman Island in Kennewick through fall foliage, apple picking at Johnson Orchards in Yakima, pressing apple cider at Bill’s Berry Farm in Grandview, roasting pumpkin seeds, visiting several regional pumpkin patches and going for a hay ride, playing in the hay maze in Walla Walla, carving pumpkins, decorating pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies, Trick-or-Treating in Historic Downtown Kennewick, attending Rocktober at The Living Room Church, watching a scary movie in the backyard, eating soup out of a pumpkin bowl, celebrating Thanksgiving and sharing dinner with family and neighbors and so much more.
My mother gave me this sugar cookie recipe from her friend. It makes soft, fluffy, creamy sugar cookies whose aroma will bring even the most reclusive teenager into the kitchen to try them. Each Halloween, my mom invites her grandchildren to her house and stacks up piles of pumpkin shaped sugar cookies, then surrounds them with bowls of orange frosting and all kinds of candy to decorate them with. It is a favorite tradition among her grandchildren and rivals the fun of carving pumpkins! Everyone we share this recipe with loves it.
Becky’s Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup sour cream
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
5 1/2 cups flour
Mix everything together and chill the batter in the fridge. Bake cookies at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Do not overbake.
Bill’s Berry Farm in Grandview is a one-stop fall, family experience. They offer a pumpkin patch, a castle made of hay where children can climb and play, do it yourself fresh apple cider pressing, a hay ride through the orchard, a playground for the children with pony rides and a freshly baked pumpkin donut stand. $5 per vehicle and although admission is free, you’ll want to bring some cash to spend on some of the treats and activities available. First four weekends in October.
Job’s Nursery Pumpkin Patch in Pasco. Although it’s not a festival, our family loves to visit Job’s nursery in the fall and take in the beautiful autumn flora. They offer a U pick pumpkin patch and a nursery tour hayride through 36 acres of fall colors as well as a Tree Scavenger Hunt. $2.60 per rider and children under two are free and $1 for the scavenger hunt.
Walla Walla Corn Maze. This is an activity for the whole family, although I recommend it for ages 5 and up. Take a flashlight and be aware that there is poor cell phone reception. Around mid-October, the Halloween Spooktacular begins. $7 admission. Open Thursdays – Sundays.
Shawn and Tony Gibson “Boys in Boo” Haunted House and Mad Scientist Lab in West Richland. This team of spooky artists spend a year planning and preparing for their home grown haunted house. They do not charge admission, but will accept a can of food to donate to the Tri-City Food Bank. Halloween night on the corner of Belmont Boulevard and Kona Avenue in West Richland. Scary, not for preschoolers.
I love to collect these Hand Painted Love Boxes mini treasure boxes painted by Tiffany, available on Etsy (not sponsored). My children love to stack them and display them on their desks.
More family favorites include: biking along the Sacajawea Heritage Trail in Columbia Park and taking in the beautiful autumn scenery, visiting Beaver Bark in Richland to see their dramatic Halloween displays, shopping the produce at the Country Mercantile in Pasco and Middleton’s Fall Festival in Pasco. My favorite resource to watch for family events throughout the Tri-Cities is Tricities Family Fun on Facebook. Family events are posted all the time and it is a great resource to stay up to date on what is currently available each season. Visit www.facebook.com/Tricitiesfamilyfun or their website, www.tricitiesfamilyfun.wix.com/familyfunwa.
Fall is truly an abundant season. My family has a tradition to also remember those who do not share in this abundance by cleaning out our pantry and our closet and donating food, coats, shoes, backpacks, school and hygiene supplies to local food banks and ministries. In addition to donating supplies, we like to donate our time whether it be through a Day of Service with our church or raking leaves for a neighbor. If your family is interested in making service part of your fall, family tradition, visit www.justserve.org, which lists local service opportunities for individual families and groups.