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Weekend Plans: Free museum visits, Mule Days, pumpkin patches, much more

Museums across the region are offering free admission. Duke Gardens is busy with a variety of programs. And nearly all the corn mazes and pumpkin patches are open. Your weekend family fun!

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
Fall is here! Most of the region's corn mazes and pumpkins patches are now open. Check our Halloween and fall fun database to find these and other fall and Halloween events across the region.
And Smithsonian magazine's Museum Day offers free admission for two to museums across the country, including more than two dozen in North Carolina, on Saturday. They include Marbles Kids Museum, Fascinate-U Children's Museum in Fayetteville and Imagination Station Science Museum in Wilson, plus many more. Read my earlier post for details on how you can get the free admission. You can't just show up. You'll need to print out tickets.

And here's your weekend family fun ...

As I've written a couple of times, Take a Child Outside Week starts Saturday. And among the local programs marking the week, an initiative of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, is the 29th annual Storytelling Festival at Historic Oak View County Park in Raleigh. The free event is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and includes music, face painting, food vendors and storyteller and Grammy Award winner Bill Miller, along with a variety of other performers. A hayride shuttle will take you into the festival. It's held rain or shine. Click here for more information about the other Take a Child Outside events over the next week.
Tens of thousands will descend on the streets of Benson in Johnston County this weekend for Mule Days. The festival kicks off Thursday evening and runs through Sunday. The weekend includes rodeos, a mule pulling contest, arts and crafts, vendors, street dances, carnival rides, camping, parades, bluegrass shows and more.
Saturday is Orange County Pick Up and Play Day as part of National Public Lands Day, the nation's largest annual volunteer effort to benefit public lands. From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at Fairview Park, 195 Torain St., in Hillsborough, there will be a variety of events, including trail maintenance, tree planting, litter removal, and path clearing around a community garden. Registration for the workday starts at 8:30 a.m. at the park's picnic shelter. Staff from Orange County's Little River Park also will lead a bug safari nature program for kids. And there will be more activities for kids from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Picnics welcome.
Cary's third annual Cary Caribbean Festival is 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Herbert C. Young Community Center, 101 Wilkinson Ave. The free event includes Caribbean cuisine along with music and salsa/merengue and limbo competitions, which are open to all guests. The event is co-sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Puerto Ricans.
Carrboro Farmers Market's annual Farmer Foodshare Challenge is 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, at the market. The market's goal is to raise 700 pounds of food for a one-day donation and at least $700 for the Farmer Foodshare Fund. The fund provides fresh food to agencies and needy people in the community and raises awareness about the need for healthy food. There will also be kids’ activities, face painting and art, along with crafts and hands-on activities provided by Kidzu Children’s Museum. The program in Carrboro has spurred other farmers markets across the the Triangle and Charlotte areas to participate in the fund too. Other local markets participating include the Chapel Hill Farmers’ Market, Chatham Mills Farmers’ Market, Downtown Raleigh Farmers’ Market, Durham Farmers’ Market, Fearrington Farmers’ Market, Hillsborough Farmers Market, Southern Village Farmers’ Market and Western Wake Farmers’ Market. They will hold Farmer Foodshare Challenge events at their weekday and Saturday markets this week.
A Family Fun and Fitness Walk to benefit Kids Together Playground at Marla Dorrel Park in Cary starts at 10 a.m. Saturday. The 1.4-mile round-trip walk is stroller and wheelchair friendly and follows the Hinshaw greenway across the U.S. 1/64 pedestrian bridge to MacDonald Woods Park where walkers will circle back to Marla Dorrel Park. This is a really easy walk, which I recently wrote about in a review of MacDonald Woods Park. There will be family-friendly fitness games with prizes planned after the walk. Register now or the day of the event. The fee is $15 per family or $5 per person.
There are children's consignment sales in Wake Forest and Cary this weekend. Read my earlier post for details.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Jamz, featuring Christopher Anderson Reed and Ashley Jo Farmer, will play the Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex at 7 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday. Reed, who brought his Beethoven & Blue Jeans concert to the Halle for the last two years, joins his friend Farmer, artistic director of the Ashely Jo Farmer Band and a nationally touring vocalist with the family-friendly Billy Jonas Band. They'll perform original music, along with a mix of well known pop and rock songs with their own spin. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students with an ID.
Duke Gardens will roll out many of its family-friendly programs this weekend. There's the Nature Ranger Cart, a traveling science cart, from 10 a.m. to noon Friday. Its Nature Storytime, a free, drop-in book club, is 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday for ages 5 to 8 and their adult. And Fall Family Fun, a free drop-in science or craft program, is from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday. These are all drop-in events. No registration required.
The 4th annual Maripolooza festival features local music and peforming arts groups, food, children's activities and a silent auction at Koka Booth Amphitheatre at Regency Park in Cary. It's from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. An all-inclusive children's activities wristband is $5. The festival benefits the Mariposa School for children with autism in Cary.
The Shops at Eastgate on East Franklin Street in Chapel Hill will hold its annual fall festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. There will be face painting, balloon art, moon bounce, hayrides, raffles, free samples and a performance from Big Fat Gap.
Carolina Parent will host two baby fair meetups from 10 a.m. to noon this Saturday. They are at Bright Horizons at Independence Park, 4205 Capitol St., in Durham, and Bright Horizons at Harrison Park, 800 Weston Parkway, in Cary.
The 14th annual Carrboro Music Festival is Sunday at spots across the town. Performances start around 1 p.m. and go until as late as 11 p.m. The Sandbox kids and family band will be playing the Town Commons stage, 301 W. Main St., at 4 p.m.
Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill will host a family day from 1 p.m.to 4 p.m. Sunday. Learn how artists in different parts of the world represent people in their art. There will be a scavenger hunt and a creation station to practice drawing and putting together faces. A family tour is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and a story time for kids ages 4 to 8 is at 2:15 p.m. It's free.
And the Nasher Museum of Art in Durham will host a free family day from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Event includes gallery hunts and hands-on activities such as hair portraits, one-line poetry and personal flags. Local students from Girls Rock NC will perform at 1 p.m. Activities are designed for kids ages 3 to 12 and their adults. All ages welcome. And it's all free.


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