Fall into fun this Autumn

The hay bale maze under construction at Gilchrest Farms in Saugus. Cory Rubin/ The Signal
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Crisp air, the sound of crunching leaves below your feet, searching for the perfect pumpkin in the patch or the smell of fresh baking in the oven — these are just a few of the hallmarks of fall.

Although the weather is still warm in Santa Clarita, autumn is in the air, and pumpkins abound.

While the Santa Clarita Valley might not immediately see the color change, there are a few signs around the SCV that the holidays are on their way.

Harvest festivals

With live bands, wagon rides, petting zoos and more, the third annual Harvest Festival at Gilchrist Farms is bringing seasonal fun to Santa Clarita.

The farm is located at 30116 Bouquet Canyon Road and scheduled to be open now through Oct. 31, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

It’s a fun way to celebrate the changing of the seasons, said Monica Gilchrist, owner of Gilchrist Farms. “Fall flavors and feels are in the air,” she said.

The festival will again feature pony rides, wagon rides, a petting zoo, straw bale maze, pumpkin slingshots, pig races, fall crafts, live entertainment, bake sales, face painting, pumpkins and pumpkin decorating.

This year, organizers added a giant straw bale slide, hand-lead horseback rides and a roping corral, Gilchrist said.   

Admission and pig races are free, but there is an extra fee for the other festivities.

If you bring a food item donation for the SCV Food Pantry, you can get $5 off the unlimited weekday or weekend wristband or free entry to the straw bale maze, Gilchrist said.

Field trips are offered during the weekdays as well as farm and garden tours.

For more information about the farm and festival, visit www.gilchristfarm.com/.

Pumpkin picking

Pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes, long stems, short stems, orange and white. Pumpkins all come from the fields, but can be bought at many different places in town, from pumpkin patches to grocery stores.

Gilchrist Farms 30116 Bouquet Canyon Road Saugus, CA

Nancy’s Ranch 25039 Magic Mountain Parkway  Santa Clarita, CA

Bennett’s Best 27000 Bouquet Canyon Road Saugus, CA; 24925 The Old Road, Stevensons Ranch, CA ,24910 Valencia Boulevard Valencia, CA

“People are looking for something solid with a nice stem,” Gilchrist said. “Feel it and make sure there are no rotting, so it will last longer. Store it out of direct light and heat.”

You get to pick the perfect pumpkin for you, whether it’s for carving, baking, painting or decor.

Pumpkin decorating

Grab a carving knife, paint, glitter and maybe a bow, your pumpkin is a blank canvas to decorate.

Pumpkins can be painted, carved, or even left as is.

When decorating your pumpkin, use imagination, but if using carving tools, follow a few of these tips.

Start by carving out a lid and scooping out all the seeds, they can be saved to bake and eat.

Draw your design on the pumpkin before carving and have fun.

To prevent rotting of your pumpkin, try to carve only a day or two before you want to display them. The sooner you carve them the sooner they will rot.

Keep your pumpkin fresh by keeping it out of direct light and heat.

Fall baking

Pies, cookies, breads and soups, fall is a time to bring pumpkins in the kitchen. You may not be an expert, but try a Pinterest recipe or two, or cook the family recipe you make every year.

If you have an original pumpkin recipe, with pumpkin as a primary flavor and you think it’s the best, you can enter it in Gilchrist Farms’ second annual pumpkin cooking contest Oct. 6.

A panel of judges will pick the winners of four categories: desserts, main dishes, miscellaneous and youth.

The judging will begin at 2 p.m., and all entries must be brought to the farm ready for presentation by 1:30 p.m., Gilchrist said.

The contest is open to the public to come and watch, and even get ideas from some of the chefs.

For guidelines, information and to enter, visit www.gilchristfarm.com/pumpkin-cooking-contest/.

Ice station

Looking for something cool for the whole family? Ice Station Valencia offers public skate throughout the week during the morning, afternoon or evening. Prices range from $8 to $11 depending on your age and skate rentals are $5, according to the rinks website.

For more information and times on public skate, visit www.icestation.net.

Friday night lights

Whether your a fan of the Centurions, Indians, Vikings, Cowboys, Grizzlies or Wildcats, it’s time for the local high schools’ Foothill League rivalry games to begin. Local high schools started league games Friday, and will continue to play one another throughout October.

Friday, Oct. 5

West Ranch v. Canyon @ Canyon High School at 7 p.m.

Golden Valley v. Saugus @ College of the Canyons at 7:30 p.m.

Hart v. Valencia @ Valencia High School at 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 12

Saugus v. West Ranch @ Valencia High School at 7 p.m.

Golden Valley v. Valencia @ Canyon High School at 7 p.m.

Hart v. Canyon @ College of the Canyons at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 19

Saugus v. Valencia @ Valencia High School at 7 p.m.

West Ranch v. Hart @ College of the Canyons at 7:30 p.m.

Golden Valley v. Canyon @ Canyon High School at 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 26

Golden Valley v Hart @ Canyon High School at 7 p.m.

Canyon v. Saugus @ College of the Canyons at 7 p.m.

West Ranch v Valencia @ Valencia High School at 7 p.m.

Haunted houses

Ghost, ghouls, zombies and more are preparing to frighten the community in their haunted houses.  Haunted houses of all scales are located throughout the SCV.

Beware the Dark Realm is one of the free haunted houses, located at 28621 Sugar Pine Way.

The home haunt is a nonprofit haunted house to help raise funds for the local Child & Family Center.

The Sivley Family have been building home and professional haunts since 1971, according to their website.

This year they’re scheduled to open Oct. 13, Oct. 19, Oct. 20, Oct. 26, and Oct. 27 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

More information about Beware of the Dark Realm at their website https://bewarethedarkrealm.com.

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