Autumn is here, and the Burlington County Parks System is celebrating with the ultimate fall festival.
Autumn Lands -- Burlington County’s celebration of the fall season – will be held Saturday, Oct. 22, at Historic Smithville Park in Eastampton and will offer seasonal foods, music, entertainment and activities for everyone in the family. The free festival will be held from 1 PM to 7 PM.
“Leaves are changing colors, pumpkin spice lattes are back, the spooky fun of Halloween is just around the corner and Burlington County is celebrating it all with the Autumn Lands festival,” said Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel, the liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation and Parks. “It’s a great new addition to our Burlington County Parks events calendar that families won’t want to miss.”
During the event, all of Smithville will be divided into various “lands” featuring different activities, vendors, displays and entertainers. The lands include:
Haunted Land: Nestled in front of the Smithville Mansion, this area will focus on the world of paranormal research and will feature local paranormal investigators who will share information about their various methods and some of their real-life ghost stories. Courageous visitors to this land can also venture into the Choose Your Own Adventure Maze if they dare!
Carve Land: Experience the hard-pounding excitement of high-octane chainsaw sculptures as skilled artisans wield chainsaws with surgical precision to transform a log into a striking piece of art. Visitors will also be able to bid on a masterpiece from these artists during a 5 PM auction, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Friends of Smithville Mansion.
Boho Land: Visit the tents of the Gypsy Funk Squad and enjoy the group’s eclectic mix of world music from Turkey, Armenia, Egypt, the Balkans, Israel, Lebanon and more. A few familiar rock and pop tunes will also be thrown in with the group’s signature belly dancing.
This area will offer tarot readings and crankie storytelling, which is an old art form featuring a long, illustrated scroll that is wound onto two spools and then fed into a box with a viewing window. The scroll is hand-cranked while the story is told. If you haven’t seen one before, make sure you don’t miss filmmaker Maisie O’Brien’s version during a screening of her short film, Solomon Grundy at 1:30 PM and 3 PM. The other award-winning films from this year’s Burlington County Short Film Festival will also be screened throughout the day.
Magic Land: Visitors can look forward to scheduled performances by magicians Lindsey Noel and Francis Menotti, Meadow Perry’s Bubble Magic Show and the Mystique Family Magic Show. You won’t believe the thrills and chills they have planned, among them a spooky Seance and Halloween spectacular and super special haunting guest appearance!
Maker Land: From blacksmiths to basket makers, artists and artisans will be demonstrating and exhibiting their work for sale. Visitors will also want to make time to visit the Apple Press, where freshly made apple cider will be served. Visitors can learn basket weaving and tuck a wish or intention in the basket before it’s lit on fire at dusk.
Scarecrow Row: Burlington County’s popular scarecrow making contest is back and the creations of friends, neighbors, scout groups, businesses and local organizations will be on display along Park Avenue. Visitors will vote for their favorite and the winners will be announced at 6:30 PM.
Oktoberfest Beer Land: The Burlington County Military Affairs Committee will be running a beer garden featuring many favorite fall brews and wines. Proceeds benefit activities in support of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and service members residing in the county.
Throughout Smithville, there will also be various kids’ activities, including storytellers, pumpkin decorating, face painting and a pop-up nature center and petting zoo.
Art exhibits in both the Annex Gallery and Worker’s House Gallery will be open during the festival and there will be food trucks featuring Hungarian, Australian, Italian and Latin American cuisine. Musical performances will also be held throughout the day, including sets by Raquel & the Wildflowers, The Screaming Orphans and Cintron.
“Autumn Lands is going to be the ultimate fall festival and a great way to experience all the beauty and history in Historic Smithville, our first county park and the crown jewel of our outstanding parks system,” Eckel said. “Newcomers to the park will be amazed and this festival offers plenty of fun and entertainment for all ages.”