-Carol Martin, Finance Department, Rainbows United
A Kansas autumn is primetime for family fun, inside and outdoors. There are so many creative and new ideas and activities to share with your children this year, and the Wichita area is the place to be for low-tech entertainment.
Kansas has a brand-new state park! Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park will open on Saturday, October 12, in western Kansas. It’s a four-hour drive from Wichita, between Scott City and Oakley. These 100-foot-tall chalk formations make for dramatic vistas during hikes.
Challenge your kids to an arcade game throwdown at The Arcade in Old Town. On Throwback Thursdays from 6-10 p.m., pinball games are 25 cents each and snacks are drinks are half price. This retro business houses 77 pinball and arcade games from the 80s and 90s, including Pac-Man, Galaga and TMNT.
Girls 8-14 interested in flying should register online now for the Girls in Aviation Day, October 5 at the Kansas Aviation Museum. There they can use airplane mechanic tools, meet women in aerospace careers and try their hand at aeronautical design.
Bike Walk Wichita needs weekly drop-in volunteers to repair and clean donated bicycles bound for organizations that identify deserving kids. If your kids are age 8 and over, they are welcome to help on Tuesday and Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. and 1-4 p.m. on Saturday afternoons.
Arkansas City, Goddard, Rose Hill, Clearwater, Valley Center, Kechi, Andover, Wamego, Maize and several other communities are celebrating autumn with fall festivals. Most are held during the weekends in September and October and feature parades, kite flying demos, crafts, car shows, carnivals, food and family fun.
Franklin Sports will host the inaugural Pickleball Masters Invitational Tournament at Chicken N Pickle on September 21-22. Weekend passes and courtside seating are already sold out, but general admission tickets of $10 are still available both days. Players will compete for the largest individual purse prize in pickleball history.
Outdoor Kansas for Kids Day will be held at El Dorado State Park on Saturday, October 5, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be a fishing derby, archery, trap shooting, horse rides and a free lunch. This program is designed to get families together, doing outdoor activities and enjoying natural Kansas.
It’s a bit pricey, but if you live in Kansas, going to the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival is a rite of passage. Held annually in Winfield, this internationally famous event brings entertainers and music lovers from the four corners of the earth. This year’s festival is September 18-22. Spend a day or a week, it’s worth it.
For fall farm fun, try a trip to a pumpkin patch or corn maze. New for this year is Cedar Creek Farm in Maize, along with regulars like Walter’s, Applejack, P and M Pumpkin Ranch, Meadowlark Farm, Sunny Side, Mr. Gourdman’s and Klausmeyer Dairy Farm and Pumpkin Patch. Sadly, several former fall fun farms have closed, like Cox Farm, Bergmann Corn Maze, Papa’s Pumpkin Patch and Gaeddert Farms.
It’s not too early to start planning Halloween costumes (October 31 is less than six weeks away). One of the hottest trends in the last few years are group costumes, like crayons, decks of cards or M&Ms, Disney characters like the Seven Dwarfs, or even Taco Bell hot, mild and fire sauces.
All these group costumes can be easily constructed with discount store t-shirts and a bit of creativity. Check out Pinterest or DIY Network for easy to follow directions. Other great places for costume ideas are Party City, discount, secondhand or thrift stores. Raiding closets at home can result in fun hats, crazy ties, colorful jackets and funny t-shirts. Just add vivid makeup and a single-colored outfit underneath and you’re ready to scour the city for candy.
Toddlers look great in a sweet getup like a penguin, tiger, cactus, salad, strawberry or Mr. Potatohead. These also can be made from inexpensive t-shirts or rompers. Fabric or glitter pens are available at most craft stores, along with felt, foam, nylon netting and tissue paper. All you’ll need to finish are scissors, safety pins and fabric glue.
Stress-free is key with kids’ Halloween costumes. Sweet and simple is the way to go and homemade not only saves money, but you and your kids get to be creative together. For more great events in Kansas this fall, check out Wichita on the Cheap or the Wichita Eagle. Your kids are growing up fast. Make sure to savor some fall time together. Get outside and play!