The heat and humidity slipped away this week with a tremendous downpour that almost washed us away from the bus stop. But we survived! And I’m glad, because the change in temperature means that one of my favorite times of year is upon us!
Fall is a most wonderful time to get outside and explore the city and its surrounding countryside. Many of the local farms welcome families for apple-picking, hayrides and fall festivals. The region also comes alive with a variety of heritage celebrations where communities gather together to commemorate both their shared and unique traditions.
In this 2015 Fall Activities in Pittsburgh Family Guide, I have compiled information on fall activities including apple picking, apple festivals, fall festivals, living history celebrations and ethnic festivals. Please note: I will put together a separate guide for Halloween activities in the weeks to come.
Apple Picking at Simmons Farm
We usually kick off the fall season with a visit to a local orchard for apple-picking. Although many of the local farms have stopped offering pick-your-own-apples, there are still a few options in our region:
Simmons Farm is located south of the city in McMurray, PA. It is one of our favorite spots for apple-picking because a) it seems less commercialized than some other farms in our region b) they have semi-dwarf trees in their orchard, meaning that it’s easy for little hands to reach the fruit c) they have a nice “petting zoo” area in their barnyard where kids can get close to the animals and d) they offer a fall festival seven days/week starting on September 19th. Apple picking has already started at Simmons Farm and will continue until at least the end of October.
Triple B Farms is also located south of the city in Monongahela, PA. It’s another favorite apple-picking spot for many Pittsburgh families (on weekends only!). They also have dwarf trees in their orchards and have already started offering pick-your-own apples. Triple B Farms has a number of family-friendly components including a Pop’s Farmyard program every weekend from June through September. For $6, you can buy a “Pasture Play” wristband that will give you access to a tunnel slide, a rope maze, a hay bale jump, a farm playground, a petting zoo, and “Education Acres,” a hands-on learning station about farming. See below for more information about the Triple B Farms Fall Festival.
I also heard from Soergel Orchards in Wexford that they will be offering limited pick-your-own apples this year. Apple picking will only be available during their weekend fall festivals in October. Though they did not describe their trees as “dwarf” size, they did note that they would be “gnarled” enough for small children to reach some branches.
Norman’s Orchard is located north of the city in Frazer, close to the Pittsburgh Mills. This family-run business has been around for sixty years, started by the current owner’s father. They offer pick-your-own apples on standard trees starting by the beginning of September and continuing until end of October. We went last year and liked its off-the-beaten path vibe, though some of the trees were so tall that we had to use ladders. Please note: they only take CASH!
Half Crown Hill Orchard is located 18 miles southwest of Pittsburgh in McDonald, PA. They started their pick-your-own-apples during Labor Day weekend and will continue throughout the season. They are open on weekends, Tuesdays and Thursdays. They also offer dwarf trees.
Apple picking at Norman’s Orchards
The Western PA region also offers several apple festivals in September and October. With the exception of the Mars Apple Fest and the Hickory Apple Festival in Mt. Pleasant, these festivals are a bit of a drive; however, they offer a chance to explore the countryside, see some foliage and visit some of the beautiful and historic towns located in our region.
Smicksburg Apple Fest-September 12-13
Located in rural Indiana County, Smicksburg is a small borough situated northeast of Pittsburgh and inhabited by many Old Order Amish people. Each year, the town hosts an Apple Fest with apple butter and cider-making demonstrations, locally-grown apples for sale, food, and entertainment.
Franklin’s Applefest-October 2-4
The historic city of Franklin is also located northeast of Pittsburgh in Venango County. Each year they hold their Applefest in their beautiful Victorian Downtown area. This year’s Applefest will run from October 2-4 and will include over 300 arts and crafts vendors, an antique and classic car show, a 5K, a Kid’s Korner, a farmer’s market, free entertainment, and lots of FOOD!
Mount Pleasant’s Hickory Apple Festival-October 3-4
Mt. Pleasant Township’s Volunteer Fire Company will be hosting its annual Hickory Apple Festival on October 3-4th. Located about 25 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, the event will include homemade food, crafts, children’s activities and entertainment.
Delmont Apple N’Arts Festival-October 3-4
Featuring over 150 arts and crafts vendors and 30 food vendors, the Delmont Apple N’Arts Festival is a Westmoreland County family-friendly festival where you can find handmade items from local crafters, delicious food, hot apple cider, and home-made apple treats.
Mars Applefest-October 3
Mars is holding its annual Applefest this October. This event includes food, games, crafts and entertainment geared toward families.
Exploring the pumpkin patch during Shenot Farm’s Fall Festival
Fall Festivals at Local Farms
The Fall Festival season begins at many local farms by the end of September and continues until Halloween. Most of these festivals offer farm-related activities for kids, hayrides and pumpkin patch trips. They also generally offer yummy farm food, cider, and sometimes even live entertainment.
First off, a mention of Hay Days 2015. These two fall festivals are organized by Allegheny County at Hartwood Acres on September 26th and South Park on October 17th. Why are they so special? Because they are completely FREE and offer many of the same well-loved fall activities that cost extra at other fall festivals. Families can enjoy hay rides, a hay maze, a pumpkin patch trip, a barnyard petting zoo and more.
Now, on to Fall Festivals at local farms. I have organized them by region to help you find one close to you:
Located in Wexford, Soergel Orchards offers a well-loved Fall Festival starting on September 19th and continuing until October 25th. The festival runs on weekend days (11-5pm) and offers some free activities (a straw stack, a barnyard petting zoo, and a play area) as well as many other activities that cost a little extra, including a cornstalk maze, hayrides to the pumpkin patch, pony rides, a bounce house, face-painting and more.
Shenot Farm is also located in Wexford, but offers a smaller and less commercialized Fall Festival. Beginning the last weekend of September from 11-5pm, Shenot offers hayrides to its pumpkin patch and a huge cornstalk maze.
Reilly’s Summer Seat Farm
Reilly’s Summer Seat Farm is located in the Mount Nebo region of the North Hills. It offers a “Harvest Festival of Fun” on weekends starting September 26th from 10-4pm. For $7 a head, you can get a hayride to the pumpkin patch, pony rides, a trip to the boo barn, face-painting, a cornstalk maze, a caramel apple and more.
If you’re further north in Butler County, check out Harvest Valley Farms, For All Family Farms, Freedom Farms and Cheeseman’s Farm for local fall festivals. Located more northeast in Armstrong County? Check out Renshaw Family Farm. Located more northwest in Lawrence County? Check out Iron Mills Farmstead.
Triple B Farms
Triple B Farms is located south of the city in Monongahela. It hosts a “Pumpkin Festival” starting September 26th and running every Saturday through Sunday from 10 to 6pm. Triple B Farms offers pick-your-own apples as well as other favorite Fall activities, including Storybook Pumpkinland (where more than 200 pumpkin-headed characters live), hayrides to the pick-your-own pumpkin patch, the Big Blue Boo Barn, a corn maze and more.
Simmons Farm is located in McMurray, PA and it offers a wonderful Fall Festival beginning September 19th and running 7 days per week. For $14 a head, you can get a hayride to the pumpkin patch, any-sized pumpkin, entry to the corn maze, a petting zoo, a play area, an apple and more. Simmons also offers pick-your-own apples and fall birthday parties.
Trax Farm in the South Hills will be holding its 46th annual Fall Festival this year beginning on September 19th and running weekend days from 10am-5pm until October 25th. Trax offers a hayride plus pumpkin picking plus a 4-acre corn maze for $8 for adults and $6 for children 3-12 yo. They will also have a free petting zoo and number of other activities that cost extra, including a bounce house, rainbow express train, rock wall, etc.
Located further south in Fayette County? Check out Duda Farms in Brownsville.
Schramm’s Farm is located east of the city in Jeannette. It offers a Fall Festival beginning the last weekend of September and continuing 7 days per week until the end of October. They have pick-your-own pumpkins throughout the day and offer hayrides for $4 starting at 4pm on weekdays and earlier on weekends. They also have several mazes, barnyard animals and more.
Gearhard’s is located east of the city in Murrysville. Starting on September 19th, it will offer its well known annual gigantic corn maze and hayrides.
Located further east? Check out Yarnick’s Farm in Indiana County.
Hozak Farms is located west of the city in Clinton, PA. It offers a Fall Festival from 10-6pm beginning the last weekend of September and continuing through October with hayrides, pumpkins, musical entertainment and more. Also, another cool option: they offer free hayrides to the pumpkin patch on weekdays in October from 2-6pm. You can also wander through the maze, straw pile and decorate pumpkins on these weekday afternoons.
Janoski Farms is also located in Clinton, PA. It offers a “Pumpkinland” during October weekends from 10-5pm. For $6 per person, you can explore a haunted barn, a corn maze, a pumpkin patch and more. Plus, you can get some face-painting and decorate a pumpkin.
Located further west? Check out Springhouse Market and Farm in Washington County.
Other Fall Festivals
There are also other Fall Festivals held in regional communities and special venues, including:
Fall of the Leaf Weekend at Idlewild with food, classic cars, special character meet & greets and crafts: September 12-13 and 19-20
Robinson Township’s 12th Annual Autumn Festival-September 12
Sewickley’s Harvest Festival-September 12
Scottdale Fall Festival-September 18-20
Annual Covered Bridge Festival-September 19-20
Fall Music Festival at Fern Hollow Nature Center-September 19
Annual Butler Fall Festival-September 19
Castle Shannon Fall Festival-September 19
Green Tree Octoberfest-September 19-20
Clarion’s Autumn Leaf Festival-September 26 to October 4
The Waterfront’s Fall Fest-September 26
Fall in the Wall Festival-September 26
Cecil Township Fall Festival-September 26-27
Bedford Fall Foliage Festival-October 3-4 and 10-11
Northside Pumpkinfest-October 10
Zelionople/Harmony Country Fall Festival-October 10-11
Great Pumpkin Festival in Cranberry-October 16
Hamilton Harvest Festival-October 17
Bounty at Boyce Mayview Park Fall Fest-November 7
Know of other Fall Festivals in your community? Email me at email@example.com and I’ll add it to the list.
Fall is also a time where many local communities gather together to celebrate both their shared and individual traditions.
The Pittsburgh Irish Festival, Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Irish Festival
In this section, I have highlighted cultural celebrations dedicated to some of the unique ethnic traditions in our region.
Church Brew Works Oktoberfest-September 10-October 4
Church Brew Works celebrates German culture at its annual Oktoberfest with traditional food items, drinks and entertainment.
British American Connections Pittsburgh is holding its first Britsburgh festival, featuring tea times, British food and beer, music, a sports extravaganza and more.
Pittsburgh Irish Festival-September 11-13
The Pittsburgh Irish Festival is a three-day celebration of Celtic culture located at the Riverplex at Sandcastle. This “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day” event includes world-class Irish music performances, Irish step-dancing, authentic Irish food, activities for kids, and much more.
Edinboro Highland Games and Scottish Festival-September 10-13
Edinboro University will be holding its annual Highland Games and Scottish Festival, where the campus will be filled with the traditions of Scotland, including musical performances, highland dance and athletic competitions, clan gatherings, fiddle and harp competitions, kids’ crafts, games and food.
Pittsburgh Lebanese Festival-September 11-13
The annual Pittsburgh Lebanese Festival features authentic Lebanese food, music and dance performances.
The Strip District World Festival-September 11-13
This September the Strip District will host its “World Festival,” celebrating the many cultural traditions in the city. There will be free global music and other entertainment, ethnic food booths, children’s activities, sidewalk sales and more.
Ukrainian Food Festival-September 11-12
Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church celebrates its annual Ukrainian Food Festival in Carnegie with yummy food, live performances and a craft fair.
Canonsburg’s Pennsylvania Bavarian Oktoberfest-September 18-20
Canonsburg hosts a very well-known Oktoberfest each year with traditional German foods, music, and a kid’s carnival.
Hofbrauhaus Oktoberfest Celebration-September 18-19, 25-26
Hofbrauhaus celebrates its annual Oktoberfest on two weekends in September with traditional German food and drink, live entertainment and children’s activities.
Also, Penn Brewery will be offering its annual Oktoberfest with great German food and drink and live entertainment on September 18-20 and the 25-27th.
Pittsburgh Chinese Cultural Festival-September 19
The Pittsburgh Chinese Cultural Festival will take place at the University of Pittsburgh and will include authentic Chinese food and beverages, live music, dance performances and children’s activities.
India in Focus-Activities begin September 25
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust celebrates Indian culture with a variety of visual and performing arts shows, workshops, lectures, etc. Kicks off on September 25th at the quarterly Gallery Crawl with a lively bhangra dance party on the streets!
Ligonier Highland Games-September 26
Idlewild hosts its annual Ligonier Highland Games complete with highland dancing, piping, drumming, Scottish dog exhibits, athletic competitions and traditional Scottish food. Please note: amusement rides will NOT be open at Idlewild on this day.
Heidelberg Oktoberfest-September 26
The borough of Heidelberg celebrates its annual Oktoberfest with traditional German food, beer, polka, children’s activities and fireworks.
American Indian Heritage Weekend at Meadowcroft-September 26-27
Visitors are invited to explore Meadowcroft’s recreated American Indian Village during this special weekend. Highlights: reenactors demonstrating daily activities of American Indian life, a tour of a wigwam and more.
Annual Pow Wow-September 26-27
The annual Pow Wow will be hosted by the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center and will include singing, drumming, dancing, crafts, food and children’s activities.
The Hydref-October 3
Depreciation Lands Museum celebrates the Welsh tradition of some early settlers in the region at the Hydref, its biggest event of the year. Eat traditional Welsh foods, learn about traditional Welsh crafts, and more.
African American Heritage Day Parade-October 3
This annual parade and celebration of African American heritage will start at 11:00am at the corner of Liberty Avenue and 11th Street.
And there’s always the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival, which continues until the end of September and celebrates medieval and fantasy cultures!
Penn’s Colony Festival, Photo courtesy of Penn’s Colony
Finally, I have highlighted festivals that celebrate our common heritage and traditions as Western Pennsylvanians:
Mountain Craft Days-September 11-13
The Somerset Historical Society will host its annual Mountain Craft Days on September 11-13th. Intended to preserve the historic crafts and trades of Somerset County, the event offers a mix of historical demonstrations, music and food. Located southeast of the city in Somerset County.
North Appalachian Folk Festival-September 11-12
The North Appalachian Folk Festival in Indiana PA celebrates the heritage of the region through demonstrations and sales of art, concerts, how-to workshops for sustainable living, handcrafts, nature and a Kid’s Alley!
Pioneer Day at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden-September 19
The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden celebrates its first Pioneer Day. Visitors can explore the newly restored 1780s log house and experience what life was like for pioneers through hands-on activities, demonstrations and tours.
Stahlstown Flax Scutching Festival-September 19-20
The Flax Scutching Festival offers demonstrations of the historic process of making linen from the flax plant. The festival also includes homemade foods, crafts, antique farm equipment, live music, a civil war encampment, a covered wagon train encampment and a staged American Indian raid. The Festival is located in Stahlstown south of the city in Westmoreland County.
Autumn Festival at Old Economy Village-September 19-20
Old Economy Village will host its annual Autumn Festival this year. The Festival will feature historic cooking demonstrations, craft vendors, children’s activities, musical entertainment, and more.
Penn’s Colony Festival-September 19-20 and September 26-27
Penn’s Colony Festival is an annual festival held in Saxonburg commemorating our region’s role in the French & Indian War and recreating the atmosphere of the “Publick Tymes” fairs in colonial America. There will be historic music, food, magic shows, children’s activities, battle reenactments and more.
McConnell’s Mills Heritage Festival-September 26-27
McConnell’s Mills will be holding its annual Heritage Festival, celebrating the operational period of the historic gristmill. Festivals includes period reenactors, bluegrass music, free tours of the mill, a civil war encampment, and children’s activities.
Fort Ligonier Days-October 9-11
Fort Ligonier Days is a festival commemorating the Battle of Fort Ligonier, a key engagement of the French and Indian War. The festival features a living history encampment showing frontier life, military tactics, drills, cannon firing, ceremonies, highlanders, redcoats, French troops, frontier men and women, Indians and music from 1758. There is also a re-enactment of the Battle of Fort Ligonier and a parade.
That’s all! Enjoy your many adventures this Fall in Pittsburgh! And please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if I’ve missed anything. I’m trying to make this guide more comprehensive each year, which would not be possible without YOUR help!