When fall arrives in Kentucky, the leaves are bold and brilliant, but the festivals are often even more colorful. And towns in Central and Eastern Kentucky fill their calendars with celebrations this time of year.
Food is the big draw of many festivals, including the Spoonbread Festival (Sept. 16 to 18 in Berea) and Casey County Apple Festival (Sept. 17 to 24 in Liberty). Some are just plain peculiar: the Penn's Store Great Outhouse Blowout (Oct. 8 near Gravel Switch), where outhouses are raced, and Cow Days (Oct. 16 and 17 in Greensburg), where kids can "milk" a life-size plastic cow named Annie.
Other festivals celebrate the sweet (Sorghum Festival, Sept. 23 to 25 in West Liberty), the very Kentuckian (Bourbon Festival, through Sept. 18 in Bardstown, and the Festival of the Horse, Oct. 1 and 2 in Georgetown), and the arts (too many to count).
Here's a full-fledged flock of fall festivals to explore this season. Look for ones in your neck of the woods or plan a weekend to explore the commonwealth.
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Black Gold Festival. 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sept. 16-18. Downtown Hazard. Crafts, carnival rides, food. 1-888-857-5263, www.hazardperrytourism.com.
Boyd Orchards Fall Festivals. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Fri., Sat.; noon-6 p.m. Sun. Through Oct. 30. Boyd Orchards, 1396 Pinckard Pike, Versailles. Hayrides, corn maze, food. $10 children, $7 adults. (859) 873-3097, www.boydorchards.com.
Haldeman-Hayes Crossing Gourd Festival. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 16, 17. Haldeman-Hayes Crossing Community Center, 4399 Open Fork Rd., Morehead. Food, crafts, gourds, pumpkins. (606) 784-5162.
Gaslight Festival. 7-10 p.m. Sept. 16, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sept. 17, noon-6 p.m. Sept. 18. Watterson Trail and Taylorsville Rd., Jeffersontown. Balloon glow, parade, arts and crafts, food, music. (502) 267-1674, www.jtownchamber.com/gaslightfestival
Poage Landing Days. 11:30 a.m. Sept. 16, 11:15 a.m. Sept. 17, 11:45 a.m. Sept. 18. Downtown Ashland. Arts and crafts, live music, food, car show. www.poagelandingdays.com.
Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival. Through Sept. 17. 3715 U.S. 60 East, Morehead. Live music, vendors. $40 Fri., $50 Sat. (606) 784-2277, www.poppymountainbluegrass.com.
Bi-Water Farm and Greenhouse Autumn Fest. Through Oct. 31. Bi-Water Farm and Greenhouse, 877 Cincinnati Rd., Georgetown. Free. (502) 863-3676, www.biwaterfarm.com.
Greensburg Cow Days Festival. 10 a.m. Sept. 16, 10 a.m. Sept. 17. Downtown Greensburg. Arts and crafts, country-ham breakfast, carnival, calf giveaway, life-size plastic cow that kids may milk, pipe-smoking contest. (270) 932-4298, www.greensburgonline.com.
Spoonbread Festival. 3 p.m. Sept. 16, 6 a.m. Sept. 17, noon Sept. 18. Downtown Berea. Free concerts, balloon glow, parade. (859) 986-9760, www.spoonbreadfestival.com.
Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Through Sept. 18. Downtown Bardstown. Bourbon tasting, food, arts and crafts, live music. 1-800-638-4877, www.kybourbonfestival.com.
Blazin' Bluegrass in the Big South Fork. 11 a.m. Sept. 16, 11 a.m. Sept. 17. Sand Hill RV Park and Camp, 4435 Sandhill Rd., Whitley City. Live music, food vendors. $8 Fri., $10 Sat. www.blazinbluegrass.com.
Sts. Peter and Paul School Fall Festival. 4-11 p.m. Sept. 16, 17. 423 W. Short St., Lexington, behind St. Paul Church. Food, beer booth, live music, children's games, inflatables, gift basket raffle. (859) 254-9257, www.stspeterandpaulschool.org.
Festival Latino de Lexington. 5 p.m. Sept. 16, 5 p.m. Sept. 17. Robert F. Stephens Courthouse Plaza, 120 N. Limestone, Lexington. Latino music, dancing, food. Free. (859) 288-2925, www.lexingtonky.gov/parks.
Sweet Owen Day 2011. 7 a.m. Sept. 17. Owen County Courthouse Square, Owenton. Pancake breakfast, live music, vendors. (502) 484-3405. http://owencounty.ky.gov.
Simon Kenton Frontier Festival. 9 a.m. Sept. 17, 10 a.m. Sept. 18. Old Main St., Maysville. Historical re-enactments, live music. (606) 564-9419, www.cityofmaysville.com.
Midway Fall Festival. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 17, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 18. Downtown Midway. Arts and crafts, food, live music. www.midwayfallfestival.org.
Evans Orchard and Cider Mill Harvest Festival. Sept. 17-Oct. 31. 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat., noon-6 p.m. Sun. Evans Orchard and Cider Mill, 180 Stone Rd., Georgetown. Freshly cooked kettle corn, pony rides, hayrides. Free admission. (502) 863-2255, www.evansorchard.com.
Garrard International Festival. 10 a.m. Sept. 17. Lancaster Square, Lancaster. www.garrardcounty.ky.gov.
Lexington-Bluegrass Pagan Pride Day Festival. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 17. Unitarian Universalist Church of Lexington, 3564 Clays Mill Rd., Lexington. Art vendors, music. Free with donation of canned or non-perishable food item. (859) 576-1025, www.lexpaganpride.org.
Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati USA. 11 a.m.-midnight Sept. 17, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sept. 18. Fifth St., from Race St. to Broadway, downtown Cincinnati. German food, drink, live music, world's largest chicken dance. www.oktoberfestzinzinnati.com.
Casey County Apple Festival. Sept. 17-Sept. 24. Downtown Liberty. Arts and crafts, parade, music, carnival. (606) 787-6670, www.caseycountyapplefestival.org.
Mountain Heritage Festival. Sept. 19-24. Downtown Whitesburg. Music, carnival rides, music. (606) 633-8034, www.mountainheritagefestival.com.
World Chicken Festival. Sept. 22-25. World's largest skillet, food, live music, crafts. Downtown London. 1-800-348-0095, www.chickenfestival.com.
Cave Run Storytelling Festival. Sept. 23, 24. Twin Knobs Recreation Area, Cave Run Lake, 5195 Ky. 801 S., near Morehead. Nationally known storytellers. Ghost stories at the campfire Saturday evening. $20 daily, $10 children and students with ID. 1-800-654-1944, www.caverunstoryfest.org.
Sorghum Festival. Sept. 23-25. Downtown West Liberty. Mule-drawn cane mill, music, vendors. (606) 743-3330, www.cityofwestliberty.com.
International Thumb Picking Weekend. Sept. 23-25. Merle Travis Music Center, 750 Cleaton Rd., Powderly. (270) 977-0409, www.ntphf.com.
Secretariat Festival. 9 a.m. Sept. 23. Downtown Paris. Equine demonstrations, arts and crafts, food. (859) 987-8744, www.parisky.com.
HarvestFest at Shaker Village. 4:30-10 p.m. Sept. 23; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 24, 25. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, 3501 Lexington Rd., Harrodsburg. Antique tractor show, children's activities, sorghum making. Many events included with tour admission: $15 ages 13 and older, $5 ages 6-12, free ages 5 and younger. 1-800-734-5611, Ext. 1545, www.shakervillageky.org.
John Michael Montgomery Country Fest. Noon Sept. 23, 10 a.m. Sept. 24. Lykins Park, 1350 Mount Sterling Rd,. Winchester. Montgomery Gentry, Kentucky Headhunters, Jamey Johnson, Colt Ford, Exile and more. $20 daily, $30 weekend pass, free for ages 10 and younger. (859) 771-9612, www.jmmcountryfest.com.
Boomslang: A Celebration of Sound and Art. Sept. 23-25. Multivenue festival in Lexington hosted by WRFL-FM 88.1. Live music, literary art, film and fashion events throughout Lexington. www.boomslangfest.com.
ScareFest. 5 p.m. Sept. 23, 11 a.m. Sept. 24, 11 a.m. Sept. 25. The Lexington Center, 430 W. Vine St., Lexington. Horror and paranormal convention featuring book signings, movie screenings and more. $20, $25. (859) 576-5517, www.thescarefest.com.
Bloomfield Harvest Homecoming and History Reunion. Sept. 23-25. Downtown Bloomfield. Chili supper, arts and crafts, music, car show. www.visitbardstown.com.
Marion County Country Ham Days. 7 a.m. Sept. 24, 7:30 a.m. Sept. 25. Downtown Lebanon. Country ham breakfast, cloggers, live music, tractor show. www.marioncountykychamber.com.
First Day Farm. 938 Shelf Ridge Rd., Houstonville. Sept. 24-Oct. 31; grand opening Oct. 15. 5-9 p.m. Fri., 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sat., 1-6 p.m. Sun. Pick-your-own pumpkin patch, corn maze, hayrides, petting zoo, playground, gift shop and concessions. $7 general admission, school groups $5 a child. (859) 314-7998, (270) 566-2303, www.firstdayfarm.com.
Saturday in Carlisle. 8 a.m. Sept. 24. Downtown Carlisle. Farm machinery show, live music, children's activities, food. (859) 289-7718.
Bowling Green International Festival. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 24. Circus Square Park, 601 State St., Bowling Green. Food, music, cultural displays. $3, free for ages 12 and younger. (270) 904-6339, www.bgInternationalfest.com.
Quest Farm Harvest Day. 10 a.m. Sept. 24, 1 p.m. Sept. 25. Quest Farm, 627 Glass Pike, Georgetown. Live music, food, mum sale. Free. (502) 535-6064, www.questfarm.org.
St. Andrew Antiochian Orthodox Church Heritage Festival. Noon Sept. 24, noon Sept. 25. 1136 Higbee Mill Rd., Lexington. (859) 223-5091.
National Alpaca Farm Day. 1-5 p.m. Sept. 24. Maple Hill Manor, 2941 Perryville Rd., U.S. 150, Springfield. Fiber products, food, wine. (859) 336-3075, www.kentuckyalpacaassociation.org, www.maplehillmanor.com.
Community Harvest Festival. 2-10 p.m. Sept. 24. Ward Oates Amphitheater, Riverview Park, Wilkinson Blvd. near Capital Plaza Hotel, Frankfort. Live music, children's activities. www.commonwealthgardens.com.
Oktoberfest: A Craft Beer Celebration. 4-8 p.m. Sept. 24. Main St., Danville. $20 advance, $25 at the door. Sample craft beers, food vendors. (859) 236-1909, www.downtowndanville.com.
Lincoln Days Celebration. 1 p.m. Sept. 25, 8 a.m. Oct. 1, 8 a.m. Oct. 2. Downtown Hodgenville. (270) 358-8710, www.lincolndays.org.
Sept. 26-Oct. 2
Kentucky Crossroads Harvest Festival. Sept. 30-Oct. 2. Downtown Springfield. Free admission. Jim Beam BBQ Classic, car show, breakfast. (859) 336-3810, www.kyharvestfestival.com.
Kentucky Apple Festival. Sept. 30, Oct. 1. Downtown Paintsville. Parade, car show, music, food. www.kyapplefest.org.
St. James Court Art Show. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 30, Oct. 1; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 2. South of Central Park on St. James and Belgravia courts, and adjoining blocks of Magnolia Avenue and Third and Fourth streets, Louisville. Hundreds of art vendors, live music, food. Free admission. www.stjamescourtartshow.com.
Kingdom Come Swappin' Meetin'. 10 a.m. Sept. 30, 10 a.m. Oct. 1. Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, 700 College Rd., Cumberland. (606) 589-2145, www.kingdomcome.org.
Festival of the Horse. Noon Sept. 30, 8 a.m. Oct. 1, 11 a.m. Oct. 2. Downtown Georgetown. Food, crafts, live music. Free. www.festivalofthehorse.org.
Spencer County Homecoming. 6 p.m. Sept. 30, 9 a.m. Oct. 1. Downtown Taylorsville. Parade, live music, food and crafts. www.spencercountykychamber.com.
Commemoration of the 149th Battle of Perryville. 9 a.m. Oct. 1, 2. Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site, 1825 Battlefield Rd., Perryville. Oct. 1, 2. Re-enactment of the Civil War battle; demonstrations of infantry, cavalry and artillery; battleground tours. $10 car, $15 passenger van, $25 bus. (859) 332-8631, www.perryvillebattlefield.org.
National Avenue Arts Festival. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 1. National Ave. and N. Ashland Ave., Lexington. Arts including ceramics, jewelry, woodwork, photography and painting. Free. (859) 254-0930, www.nationalavenueartfest.com.
McCreary Fest. 10 a.m. Oct. 1. Downtown Whitley City. Live music, parade, food. www.mccrearyfest.com.
Paws for Peace Dog Walk and Festival. 1-4 p.m. Oct. 2. Falling Springs Recreational Center, 275 Beasley Rd., Versailles. Music, vendors, entertainment. $15; proceeds go to Wolf Run Wildlife Refuge. (859) 230-1986, www.pawsforpeace.org.
Jenny Wiley Festival. Oct. 3-8. Downtown Prestonsburg. Live music, parade, vendors. www.jennywileyfestival.com.
Carroll County Tobacco Festival. Oct. 6-8. Downtown Carrollton. Agritourism tent, parade, food. www.carrolltontobaccofestival.com
Renfro Valley Appalachian Harvest Festival. Oct. 6-8. Renfro Valley. Farm machinery show, food, entertainment. 1-800-765-7464, www.renfrovalley.com.
Christ the King Octoberfest. 4-11 p.m. Oct. 7, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Oct. 8. Live music, games, food. Cathedral of Christ the King, 299 Colony Blvd. (859) 268-2861, www.ctkoktoberfest.com.
Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen Fall Fair. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 8, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 9. Indian Fort Theater, Ky. 21, 3 miles east of Berea. Art vendors, music, food. $5 adults, free for ages 12 and younger. (859) 986-3192, www.kyguild.org.
Arts Council of Mercer County Fall Festival. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 8, 9. Old Fort Harrod State Park, 100 S. College St., Harrodsburg. www.artscouncilofmercer.com.
Bardstown Arts, Crafts and Antiques Fair. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 8, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 9. Bardstown. Artists, live music, food. 1-800-638-4877, www.visitbardstown.com.
Penn's Store Great Outhouse Blowout and Country Cruise-In. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Oct. 8. Penn's Store, 257 Penn's Store Rd., near Gravel Switch. Outhouse race, live music, food. (859) 332-7706, (859) 332-7715, www.pennsstore.com.
Apple Butter Day. Oct. 8. Bramble Ridge Orchard, 2726 Osborne Rd., Mount Sterling. (859) 498-9123, www.brambleridgeorchard.com.
Flemingsburg Old-Fashion Court Days. Oct. 8, 9. Downtown Flemingsburg. Live music, vendors, food. (606) 845-1223 www.flemingkychamber.com.
Trees, Trails, and Creatures. 5-7 p.m. Oct. 8. The Arboretum, 500 Alumni Dr., Lexington. Pumpkin and face painting, parade of scarecrows, food vendors. $2. (859) 257-6955, www.ca.uky.edu/arboretum.
Oct. 10 and beyond
Mount Sterling Court Days. Oct. 13-17. Downtown Mount Sterling. Live music, food, vendors. (859) 498-8732, www.mtsterlingcourtdays.com.
Celebration of Traditional Music. Oct. 13-16. Berea College Loyal Jones Appalachian Center, Berea. (859) 985-3000, www.berea.edu/appalachiancenter.
Foothills Festival. Oct. 14, 15. Downtown Albany. Children's activities, food, music. 1-800-881-8589, www.foothillsfestival.com.
Forkland Heritage Festival & Revue. 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Oct. 14, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Oct. 15. Forkland Community Center, Forkland Rd., Gravel Switch. Bean supper, live music, sorghum molasses making, horse-drawn wagon rides. $2 adults, $1 ages 12 and younger, free for ages 5 and younger. Call (270) 692-2732 for supper theater reservations. www.forklandcomctr.org.
Glendale Crossing Festival. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 15. Parade, crafts, food. Downtown Glendale. www.glendalekentucky.com.
Day of the Dead Festival. 5 p.m. Nov. 1. Living Arts and Science Center, 362 N. Martin Luther King Blvd., Lexington. $2 suggested donation. (859) 252-5222, www.lasclex.org.
Barbeque Festival. 11 a.m. Nov. 5, 6. Constitution Square State Historic Site, 134 S. Second St., Danville. Live music, food. www.kybbqfestival.com.