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(by) Donna McCrohan Rosenthal–
Autumn arrives soon and festivals return with it but remember that Covid hasn’t gone away. Check websites or call ahead before venturing out to explore one or more of these tips for hops and longer trips around the Golden State.

Donna McCrohan Rosenthal

To the south in Buena Park, Knott’s Berry Farm rolls out Knott’s Scary Farm 2022 on select nights from Thursday, September 22, to Monday, October 31, with haunted mazes and attractions, sinister shows, and more than 1000 horrifying creatures lurking in the fog and around the corners; not recommended for children under 13. Note that Knott’s has announced, “A new Chaperone Policy went into effect on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at both Knott’s Berry Farm and Knott’s Soak City in July. This policy will now be extended to all event nights of Knott’s Scary Farm. In addition, a bag policy will be implemented for Knott’s Scary Farm. Guests will not be permitted to bring bags larger than 6.5” x 4.5” x 2” into the park, including purses, backpacks, or diaper bags during Scary Farm operation. All bags will be searched prior to entry. Under the chaperone policy, all general park guests ages 17 years old or younger must be accompanied by a chaperone who is at least 21 years old to be admitted to the park. The chaperone must present a valid photo ID with a date of birth. One chaperone may accompany no more than four guests ages 17 or younger per day.

To the northwest in Pleasonton at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, the California Soul-Food Cookout and Festival Saturday-Sunday, September 17-18 combines soul food, American foods, Latino foods, and other special-order foods, beverages, and music (510-875-9437). In Walnut Creek, the 86th annual Walnut Festival runs Thursday-Sunday, September 22-25, with live music, a large carnival with more than 16 rides, a Kid Zone, and a showcase for artists, craftsmen, designers, food specialties, crafts and more (925-935-6766).

Over the September 17-18 weekend, the 40th Anniversary Santa Clara Art and Wine Festival brings over 160 art vendors, 25+ food groups, two entertainment stages, and a large Kids Kingdom and Toddler town. All proceeds benefit local non-profit organizations (408-615-3140). 

To the southwest on the coast, Ventura’s Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show, Friday, September 30, to Sunday, October 2, offers thousands of handmade items ranging from wall art and sculptures to photography, clothing, home décor, and more (925-392-7300). 

Planning ahead: In Santa Barbara, the annual Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival follows on its heels on October 15 and draws thousands to the waterfront to enjoy fresh lobster and barbecued albacore, clam chowder, and a host of other seafood treats and marine-related information and demonstrations, entertainment, and arts and crafts (805-897-1962).