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Weekend Plans: State Fair, Halloween events, children's theater, more

The N.C. State Fair wraps up for the year. A haunted house opens its doors to kids. Scary movies are on the big screen at Koka Booth Amphitheater. And more weekend family fun!

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Pumpkin Patch Express at the Museum of Life and Science
It’s a busy weekend with the N.C. State Fair; all of the pumpkin patches, corn mazes and Halloween-related festivities; and various other events.
As always, check WRAL.com’s Out & About calendar and our Halloween and Fall Fun Guide for more information about all of the weekend’s events. If you’re headed to the fair, check out my tips for families and details about the return of the giant Smokey Bear. And there’s the new “The World’s Largest Dinosaurs” exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.

Here are other weekend activities for families.

Darkside Haunted Estates, the super spooky haunted destination in Middlesex, about 30 minutes from Raleigh, opens its doors to families from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, for a special no-scare afternoon with trick-or-treating, costume contest and other activities. Tickets are $5 for adults, free for kids.
Koka Booth Amphitheater hosts its Reel-ly Scary Cary movie series Thursday through Saturday, including a screening of the G-rated Monsters University on Friday. The outdoor venue also has a haunted house that’s best for kids 13 and up. And Cary will host a bevy of other Halloween activities this Saturday, including a dance party, a pumpkin carve, a haunted house and more.
New Hope Valley Railway in southwestern Wake County holds its Halloween Track or Treat with four departures starting at 4 p.m., Saturday. Tickets are $13. The earlier departure times, which run the route before it gets dark out, are best for younger kids. The one-hour trip takes you past some Halloween scenes.
Get ready for some family-friendly improv courtesy of Transactors Improv, which will perform at 7 p.m., Saturday, at the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre in downtown Wake Forest. The show will have a Halloween theme. Advance tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for kids 12 and under.
And the Pumpkin Patch Express continues its run at the Museum of Life and Science this Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $20.
Alexander Family YMCA at 1603 Hillsborough St. near downtown Raleigh will hold a fall family fest from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday. The event includes a haunted bus, crafts, an inflatable obstacle course, games, face painting and more.
From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday, Halloween costumes are welcome for a special event at Northgate Mall in Durham. The evening includes Halloween-inspired music from the Durham Symphony Orchestra, performances from the Paperhand Puppet Intervention, a costume contest, hands-on instrument fun with High Strung Petting Zoo and Durham’s Faith Baptist Church Children’s Choir. It’s free.
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center will offer Scare-o-Lina Skies this weekend with kid-friendly shows and others that are best for teens and adults. Grade schoolers and their families will enjoy the family-friendly version, which is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., Saturday, and 3:30 p.m., Sunday. An evening show best for teens and adults is 8 p.m., Saturday and Oct. 30. Tickets are $7.68 for adults and $6.51 for kids, students and seniors.
Historic Stagville in Durham will host the Secret History of Pumpkins from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday. Tickets are $6 for kids and free for adults. They include a pumpkin, samples of pumpkin desserts and pumpkin spice cider. The day also offers a history lesson on pumpkins, which symbolized the abolition movement, and other pumpkin activities.
The N.C. Museum of Art has boosted its family tours from once a month to every weekend. The free, 30-minute tours are 10:30 a.m., Saturday and Sunday. They are best for kids ages 5 to 11 and their parents. Museum guides take visitors through the gallery.
Mordecai Historic Park in Raleigh hosts several events this weekend including the Haunted Mordecai Festival from noon to 4 p.m., Saturday. The free event is great for all ages and includes a costume contest for kids up to age 16. And there are a few slots left for the Haunted Mordecai Lantern Tour on Saturday evening. This one is scary. There's also a Haunted Trolley Tour on Friday and Saturday evening but, at last check, there were just three spots left.
Hollyfest at Sugg Farm Park in Holly Springs is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday. The free event includes entertainment, a kids zone with inflatables, cornhole, a pumpkin carving contest and more.
Several local groups are hosting a voting party in Durham to encourage families to make voting a family tradition. It’s 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, at the Durham Main Library.
A local high school senior working on her Girl Scout Gold Award will host a Wake Forest Community Kids Expo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, at Wake Forest Methodist Church, 905 S. Main St. It’s free. The event seeks to connect young families with local family-friendly businesses and services in the community.
The Chapel Hill Philharmonia will perform a free children’s concert at 3 p.m., Sunday, at Kenan Music Rehearsal Hall, 125 S. Columbia St., on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill. The concert features music and song from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” Children can meet the musicians and check out the instruments after the concert.
The Children’s Theatre of Charlotte presents two shows Saturday as part of Cary’s Marvelous Music Family Series. At 10 a.m., the classic story of “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel,” by Virginia Lee Burton, is told through live theater. Then, at 3 p.m., is a world premiere of a retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson classic, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Tickets are $8 each per person for the shows at Cary Arts Center.
And Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site in Johnston County will host a fall festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, followed by nighttime hospital tours at 7 p.m. Tickets are required for the hospital tour and are available for purchase the day of the event. The fall festival includes demonstrations, period games, a corn shucking contest, town ball and wagon rides ($2 per person). The evening tours take visitors through the hospital. Reenactors will portray surgeons and medical personnel performing amputations and providing other medical treatment inside the Harper House while others depict soldiers wounded in battle awaiting treatment at the field hospital. This is first-person style, so visitors might be questioned about their clothing or hair. The evening tours are graphic. Parental discretion is advised. The $8 tickets are limited and are available for purchase starting at 9 a.m., Saturday.


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