The ‘Golden State’ Offers a Bumper Crop of Nostalgic Harvest Fun

Heading out to Southern California this fall and bringing the kids? If so, chances are you will probably look into Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland and Legoland to take advantage of smaller crowds and shoulder season specials. It’s also a given those theme parks will have seasonal-themed attractions built around Halloween and fall country harvests with nostalgic elements.

However, if you want to celebrate fall the way California residents do, mark your calendar for the following events that prove there’s more to the Golden State than endless summers.

L.A. County Fair, Pomona, through Sept. 23:

The 97-year-old fair shows there’s more to Los Angeles than the entertainment industry and urban sprawl. Various delights include a variety of fried snacks on a stick, thrill rides, petting zoo and livestock beauty contests. By night, you can rock out to enduring rock, soul and pop acts on the nostalgia circuit, including The Beach Boys, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, War & Tower of Power, The Manhattans and The Commodores.

During the fall months, La Purisima Mission State Historical Park in Lompoc, an hour north of Santa Barbara, offers special fall events and scenery that not only celebrate Central Coast harvest traditions but interesting glimpses into California history. Harvest Mission Life Day (Sept. 15) invites families to experience a variety of end-of-the-season harvest and traditional Mission activities from yesteryear, while the Candlelight Tour (Sept. 22) whisks guests back in time to the 1820s on a walking tour through the mission to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of traditional mission life.

Danish Days, Solvang, Sept. 14–16:

The old world Scandinavian way of life comes alive with parades, concerts, music and dance, a Viking beer and wine garden, a chainsaw carver, an old world artisan marketplace, demos, antique shopping, Danish food and proud Danish-Americans celebrating their heritage and sporting traditional clothing. Danish Days also features Hans Christian Anderson story-telling by Randel McGee, authentic pastries (aebleskiver) and Danish sausage (medisterpoise), and wine tasting from the adjoining Santa Ynez Valley.

Pumpkin Patch © Underwood Family Farms

Pumpkin Patch at © Underwood Family Farms

The Underwood Family Farms Fall Harvest Festival, Ventura, Sept, 29–Oct. 31:

During its five-week run, an interesting assemblage of county fair and agricultural harvest elements will be rolled out every week, including a farm field labyrinth, pig races, animal competitions, hay pyramids, pick-your-own fruit and vegetables, live concert performances and farm-to-fork food for purchase. There will also be numerous educational and nostalgic exhibits for the kids, ranging from a pumpkin playhouse to an animal center with livestock and bee barn, “Fun Hill” and “Kid’s Corral” play areas, Farmer Craig’s Chicken Show, Combine Slide and more.

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, Downtown Los Angeles/Chinatown, Sept. 29:

Highland Games Graham Osberg and Rod Scoville

Highland Games Graham Osberg and Rod Scoville © Mark Johnson, Seaside Highland Games

If Asian food and culture is your thing, journey to Chinatown in Downtown to enjoy and savor a variety of Chinese and Asian fare as well as cultural demonstrations, Mooncake samples from Chinatown’s popular bakeries, live pop and rock concerts by local acts, a photo booth with 1940s cutouts, walking tours of Chinatown, art demonstrations and workshops, dessert eating competition and glimpses of the full harvest moon through scientific telescopes.

Seaside Highland Games at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, Ventura, Oct.13–14:

The best of the British Isles is out in force, from brilliant cultural entertainment such as bagpiping, drumming, dancing and folk music to classic British cars, British food, games, athletic competitions, herding dogs and a children’s area.