Fall fun can be found from apple orchards to Oktoberfest celebrations

Photo courtesy of Harvestville Farm

In October, Harvestville Farm’s 40 acres of pumpkins, squash and gourds turn the farm into a harvest haven near Donnellson.
Photo courtesy of Harvestville Farm In October, Harvestville Farm’s 40 acres of pumpkins, squash and gourds turn the farm into a harvest haven near Donnellson.

As the temperatures grow cooler and the days grow shorter, many people will be looking for a fall activities to do closer to home, so The Union is offering a list of several ventures.

Sass Family Farm

Sass Family Farm, operated by Maurice and Sherry Sass, can be found at 3060 160th St., Riverside. It is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the week. For information, visit or call 319-648-3788.

Sass Family Farm offers families a relaxed country atmosphere. Kids can play on the playground equipment while their parents browse through the produce, crafts and more. The country store has been expanded, and there are a petting zoo, party room, bathrooms and a flagstone patio overlooking the pond.

The farm features a wide variety of quality produce picked fresh from the farm each day, including apples, pumpkins, and winter squash. The farm also has a number of different seasonal offerings such as fresh baked goods, jams and jellies, gourds and fresh brown eggs that are available year-round.

The rustic country store housed in an old shed offers antiques, collectibles and handmade crafts. Vintage farm tools, barn-board art, milk cans, Indian corn wreaths, birdhouse gourds and other seasonal craft items.

A pumpkin painting party, hosted by the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and Sass Farms is planned from 1-2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 12, at the museum in Cedar Rapids. Visit the Sass Family Farm on Facebook for details and tickets.

Ottumwa Oktoberfest

The Ottumwa Oktoberfest started Wednesday, Oct. 2, and continues through Saturday, Oct. 4, in the Jimmy Jones Shelter at Ottumwa Park. It has historically been one of the biggest Oktoberfest celebrations in Iowa, run solely by volunteers, who donate the proceeds to different charities and community projects.

Today, Friday, Oct. 4, features brats and brew from 11 a.m. to midnight, DJ Tobin Garret from 4-7:30 p.m., a kiddie parade at 6 p.m. on Church Street, The Schmitz Blitz Band from 5-7:30 p.m. on the Budweiser Stage, and a stein holding competition from 9-10:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 5, features the Oktoberfest parade starting at 10 a.m. in downtown Ottumwa. Carson King will be the grand marshal. The Ottumwa Oktoberfest Committee said King embodies the spirit of giving back and has inspired tens of thousands of people to do the same. The honor is to recognize him for his dedication to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital and the parade will have several local kids who have been patients there recognized as honorary grand marshals in the parade.

Also on Saturday, brats and brew will be served from 11 a.m. to midnight, a Vintage Cruiser Car Show is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., a high school drum line is competition at 1 p.m., followed by the band awards. Live music will feature Ottumwa native Joel McNulty from 5-7:30 p.m. and Hypersona from 8 p.m. to midnight.


First Fridays

Fairfield First Fridays will have its 13th annual Oktoberfest from 6-10 p.m. today, Friday, Oct. 4, in Central Park.

Festivities will open with local resident Francis Thicke blowing the Alpine Horn. Other events include the annual wiener dog races, with registration at 6 p.m. and races beginning at 6:30 p.m., and a pup parade after the races. Carriage rides begin at 6 p.m., The Boys play live music from 6:10-10 p.m. in the Ron Prill Band Stand in Central Park.

Food vendors, artists, crafters, lawn games, a photo booth and more will be set up in Central Park. Stop by the Fairfield First Fridays tent to sign up for prizes and pick up treat for children and pups. Many stores galleries and venues on and near the square will be open.

For information, visit

Harvestville Farm

Harvestville Farm is a fifth-generation farm in the heart of farm country in rural Southeast Iowa at 1977 Highway 2, Donnellson. In October, its 40 acres of pumpkins, squash and gourds turn the farm into a harvest haven along with two large play areas for families of all ages to enjoy, a 10-acre corn maze, wagon rides and special fall events.

Fall hours, through Oct. 31, are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. It is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. It also will have special hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 31.

There is no admission charge to visit, purchase fresh produce or shop. The retail barn is always open free of charge to everyone. A fee is charged to enter the Harvestville Play area. A cafe is available.

For more information, visit the website

Northside Oktoberfest

Northside Oktoberfest is planned Saturday, Oct. 5, in the Iowa City downtown district.

The SodaFest begins at 10 a.m. in the Pagaliai’s Pizza parking lot. Take part in an inflatable obstacle course, climb the rock wall, take a few rides down the big double lane blowup slide or dance with all the great performers. The Iowa Children’s Museum also will be there with fall craft activities. SodaFest is open to all ages. The ticket price includes specialty acrylic tasting soda glass and soda drink tickets.

Also at 10 a.m., Northside Oktoberfest ticket holders can start getting wristbands and their ID’s checked. At 11 a.m., BrewMaster ticket holders can pick up their glasses on Linn Street outside of r.s.v.p. The Blessing of the beer will be at 11 a.m. at the BrewMaster entrance. Also at 11 a.m., Hawkeye fans can watch the game against Michigan Wolverines on the big screen TV in the city lot next to Bluebird Diner.

Adult games, like hammerschlagen, beer slide, keg bowling, and giant Jenga will be offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Phelan Tucker Law LLP parking lot next to El Banditos.

At noon, general admission ticket holders can pick up their glasses in the Phelan Tucker Law parking lot.

Live entertainment includes Crystal City from 12:30-1:30 p.m. outside of Goosetown Café, Die Tieffen Keller from noon to 2 p.m. on North Linn Street by Domby and Hamburg Inn 2, and Cedar County Cobras from 2-3 p.m. outside of Goosetown Cafe.

The brat and Scotch egg eating contest is set for 2 p.m., and will be followed by the lederhosen costume contest. Someone will be walking around the festival selecting those in the best lederhosen costumes, and the best costume will be chosen by the crowd.

At 3 p.m., taps close and Northside Oktoberfest/Iowa City BrewFest ends.

For information, visit the website

The Villages of Van Buren

The Villages of Van Buren in southeast Iowa will host its annual Scenic Drive Festival Friday through Sunday, Oct. 11-13.

The countywide festival includes numerous events and activities planned in most of the villages. It features arts and crafts vendors, antique vendors, art shows, music, garage sales, kids’ entertainment, a parade, car and motorcycle show, food and more activities throughout the villages. Visit for all of the details and download the 2019 Scenic Drive Festival brochure.

scenic drives

For those who are searching for the perfect views of fall colors, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources offers a fall color report on its website at

According to this week’s report, in southeast Iowa, the overall landscape still is green. Walnuts and elms are starting to turn yellow and drop a few leaves. Some sumac, poison ivy, and dogwoods starting to show some reds, and purples. The DNR is estimating the peak viewing date will be Oct. 20.

Bryant Orchard

Anyone looking for crisp, fresh apples can stop by Bryant Orchard, 17137 40th St., in Morning Sun.

This apple orchard has been in operation for 48 years and offers at least 10 varieties of apples, like Jonathan, Yellow Delicious, Empire, Jonagold and Chieftain. It also offers fresh unpasteurized apple cider and other seasonal vegetables.

According to the orchard’s Facebook page, it is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 12:30-4 p.m. Sundays from around mid-September through early November.

Wilson’s Orchard

Wilson’s Orchard, at 4823 Dingleberry Road NE, Iowa City, offers you-pick and prepicked apples and pumpkins, as well as fresh pressed cider and homemade baked goods, like apple turnovers.

The orchard will have Golden Days from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5-6, in celebration of National Apple Month. Visitors can ride in a tractor-drawn trailer out to the orchard to pick “Golden” varieties, including Smoothee, Autumn Gold and more.

Visit the Wilson’s Orchard Facebook page for information.

Appleberry Orchard

Appleberry Orchard is an agritainment farm business at 2469 Highway 2, Donnellson.

The orchard is open Aug. 1 through Oct. 31, with hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays.

The orchard has u-pick apples and pumpkins, Appleberry Acres & Petting Farm, wagon rides, barrel train rides, pumpkin chucker, food concessions and much more. The orchard also has a corn maze, with a portion of the admission going to the Lee County K-9 Association for care and support of the K9s.

Visit the Appleberry Orchard Facebook page for details.

Looking for more fall fun? Check out next Friday’s edition of The Union for a frighteniing list of area haunted houses.