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State park planning fall fun

Washington State Park has a variety of happenings this month to celebrate the Halloween season. 

It’s Fall Harvest Festival and Halloween Hootenanny time in Washington State Park this month.

The Harvest Festival on Saturday gives overnighters a chance to trick-or-treat and decorate their campsites, while day visitors enjoy an autumn carnival amid Missouri’s great outdoors. Halloween Hootenanny is slated for Oct. 26 and features trick-or-treating for the public.

The 10th annual Fall Harvest Festival begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Washington State Park, located 10 miles south of De Soto. Most events are free to the public and will be clustered near the Big River day use area, Shelter #2. More information can be gotten from the park office, 636-586-5768, the park’s Facebook page, or by visiting mostateparks.com.

Sharon Hultberg, natural resource manager for the park, said the crowd is usually pretty sizable, even when the weather gets chilly.

“If I’m remembering correctly, we had about 500 people at last year’s event,” she said. “Our craft fair emphasizes handmade items only, and that brings a lot of people out. We’ll also have a demonstration of flint-knapping, or arrowhead-making.”

The craft fair is sponsored by local Missouri artisans, crafters and hobbyists, featuring many hand-made products. It will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Big River day-use shelter. Food and concession items will be available for purchase from the Friends of Washington State Park.

A 30- to 45-minute guided tour of Washington State Park’s petroglyphs will be offered at 2 p.m. The main petroglyph site is near the north entrance to the park and across Highway 104 from the road to Shelter #1/CCC Ridge Shelter.

Other activities during the day include a pumpkin painting contest, a hayride and live bluegrass music by George Portz and Friends, all held in the Big River day-use area.

Saturday’s Fall Harvest Festival schedule includes:

10: 30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Hay Rides

11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Bluegrass by George Portz and Friends

2-3 p.m. Guided Petroglyph Site Tours

6-7 p.m. Trick-or-treating for registered campers and cabin guests only in the campground.

Group, tent and electric camping sites are available at the park. Camping reservations may be made through http://mostateparks.com or the reservation hotline 877-422-6766.

The Halloween doings on Saturday night might only be for campers in cabins and on campsites, but on Oct. 26, everyone is invited to Friends of Washington State Park’s annual party for the public, Halloween Hootenanny.

Beginning at 4 p.m. with a chili supper fundraiser, the evening features trick-or-treating, Halloween crafts, a scavenger hunt and decorated campsites.

The menu will include chili, nachos and chili dogs. Monetary donations for dinner will go to Friends of Washington State Park. Food will be available at the Campground Host Site/Site #1.

Trick-or-treaters will wend their way through the park campground from 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Individuals and businesses are welcome to bring their vehicles for trunk-or-treat as well.

Campers staying over the weekend are invited to participate in a Halloween-themed campsite decorating contest. Awards for best-decorated sites will be given at 8:15 p.m. Throughout the evening, a scavenger hunt and Halloween craft will be available for children and families.

The full list of activities for Halloween Hootenanny Oct. 26:

4-6 p.m. Chili supper fundraiser at Campground Host Site #1

6:30-8 p.m. Trick-or-treating at Campground

8:15 p.m. Campsite decorating contest awards

TBD Scavenger hunt and Halloween craft at Campground Host Site #1

Friends of Washington State Park was formed within the last two years and recently received its non-profit status, Hultberg said. The group of volunteers raises money to solely benefit the park and its initiatives.

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Sarah Haas is the assistant editor for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-518-3617 or at shaas@dailyjournalonline.com.

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