Celebrate the arrival of fall's cool temperatures and take the kids to one of these festivals:
Arts on the River
The 17th annual festival features a fine art show and sale with bands playing throughout the day 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at 1100 block of Broadway. It's free to attend, bring cash to purchase art. For more details, visit artsontheriver.com
Paint the Town Pink
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A 5K and 1-mile walk/run and Pink Pooch Contest, sponsored by West Central Georgia Cancer Coalition, kicks off at 8 a.m. at Flat Rock Park. The Paint The Town Pink Finale Party is set for 2-6 p.m. at Chattahoochee Harley-Davidson, 3230 Williams Road. The finale will feature live music by female fronted band, Little Miss Muffett, food, beverages, contests, pumpkin painting, face painting and a fashion show. $30 to walk/run, $20 to enter a dog in the Pink Pooch Contest, $10 if pet parents is registered for to walk. Motorcycle Dice Run is $30 per bike. Free to watch. 706-660-1914.
The Southern Pirate Festival
Family activities, cannon firings and Billy Bones' Pirate School and Sulukule Belly Dance show return for the annual event at National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus, 1002 Victory Drive in Columbus. Hours are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Cost is $7.50 for adults, $6 for children (ages 7-17). Kids 6 and younger are free. 706-327-9798. portcolumbus.org
Fort Benning’s Annual Oktoberfest (Oct. 19-21) includes a keg tossing, Duchshund Derby, food and music. The German style fun is at the Uchee Creek Activity Center. Aside from the traditional German music and food, guests will enjoy games and competitions for all ages, a pumpkin patch for the little ones, inflatable bounce houses, pony rides, pontoon boat rides, a petting zoo and hayrides. Saturday’s canine competitions include the Dachshund Derby, Doggie Doppelganger (owner/dog look-alike), Tricky Dog and more. Vendors accept only tokens for the purchase of food. Rides and games are free. Tokens cost $1 each. Unused tokens can be redeemed on site for full value. Safety Cab will provide free rides from Oktoberfest to Columbus or Phenix City from 6-11 p.m. Friday, 4-11 p.m. Saturday and 2-6pm Sunday. Call 706-326-3027. Oktoberfest hours are 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday.
OK, this isn't a festival but what could be a better family bonding activity than adopting a new family member? Adopt adult cats (1 year or older) for $5 today and Sunday and Oct. 27-28 at PAWS Humane. Saturday hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday hours are noon to 5 p.m. Cats spayed/neutered, vaccinated, disease tested, microchipped, dewormed and come with a free month of pet insurance. PAWS, 4900 Milgen Road, is also open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. 706-565-0035. pawshumane.org
Syrup Sopping Day
The annual Loachapoka, Ala. festival is 7 a.m.-5 p.m. EST. Demonstrations on how mill workers used to make sugar. Vendors sell food and crafts. Mules, previously used to power mills, now give kids rides. Free, but bring cash for food and shopping.
Just across the highway is Lee County Historical Fair at Pioneer Park. Dancers, bands, demonstrations, petting zoo, garden harvest, sugarcane squeezing and cider pressing are highlights. Be sure to taste a sweet potato biscuit or sweet potato fritter. Cost is $3, children 12 and younger are free. 334-742-7877.
Harvest Balloon Festival
Tethered balloon rides, an evening balloon glow, pumpkin carving and painting, hay rides, children's games and face painting await guests at the third annual Harvest Balloon Festival at Sterling on the Lake in Flowery Branch, Ga., from 3-8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20.
Live music, food vendors, carnival stands and a bake sale will also be featured. Proceeds will be donated to Challenged Child and Friends, a local non-profit for children with disabilities, and the Hall County Animal Shelter. Visitors can meet and adopt a dog at the shelter's pet adoption tent as well as participate in the blood drive hosted by the American Red Cross. Attendees are also welcome to tour model homes in the Sterling on the Lake community during their visit.
Cost: Admission into the festival is free and parking is $5 per car.
Information: For more details, visit www.harvestballoonfestival.com or call (770) 967-9777.