Where you can lose it – and it’s all right

Autumn is upon us again, and while the recent spate of hurricanes did their share to defoliate area trees, a lot of those tenacious leaves held on to drop another day. So you could rake them.

But fall can mean more than just tedious yard work — Western North Carolina revels in the annual celebration of color. And even beyond a creeping drive on the leaf-peeper-clogged Blue Ridge Parkway, plenty of activities abound to help you avoid both road rage and raking. (Chances are, if you wait long enough to rake those buggers, another hurricane will blow through and dispose of them for you.)

So check out the following low-stress fall-ish activities:

Get on the Ghost Train: Through Saturday, Oct. 30, the folks at Tweetsie Railroad (on U.S. 21 between Blowing Rock and Boone) will be hosting their annual, exceedingly campy Ghost Train Halloween Festival. Engineer Casey Bones, along with his singularly ghastly crew, are looking for the bravest of souls to fill the seats for a “spooktacular” ride. You can also check out their Haunted House, creepy carnival rides, 3-D Halloween Maze and Doc Tingle’s Black Light Music Show at the Haunted Palace Saloon. Admission is $20 for both kids (3 and up) and adults, and tickets sell faster than candy corn, so advance purchase is recommended. For more information, call (877) TWEETSIE or visit www.tweetsie.com.

Get lost: It bills itself as “six acres of cornfusion, where you can lose it, and it’s all right,” and the Blue Ridge Corn Maze delivers just that — this is one vexing labyrinth. Located near Brevard on Everett Road in Pisgah Forest, the annual attraction challenges young, old and everyone in between. Open only on Fridays (5-8 p.m.), Saturdays and Sundays (2-8 p.m.) through the end of October. Admission is $6/adults, $4/kids 6-12. For more information, call 844-4415 or visit www.blueridgecornmaze.com.

Get your gourd on: Check out the annual Pumpkinfest in downtown Black Mountain, Sunday, Oct. 31 from 1-4 p.m. Visitors will encounter indoor and outdoor hands-on art activities, live entertainment and what coordinators call “pumpkin-related fun” at Black Mountain Center for the Arts (225 West State St.). For more information, call 669-0930.

Get howlin’ for a good cause: Costume the kids and the pooch for the second annual Halloween Pet Parade in Black Mountain on Saturday, Oct. 30. The parade is a fund raiser for Full Moon Farm, a wolf-dog sanctuary. The exact time for the parade isn’t set yet, but call Sandi Rector at 669-0706 for more information.

Get old school: It’s harvest time, so why not check out the beasts of burden that help bring in the crops? Pay a visit to the annual Antique Engine and Tractor Show, part of Fall Harvest days (Oct. 22-24) at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher. A mere $5 will get you through the doors — and that price includes the tractor-pull competition. There are also 750 exhibitors to check out. For more information, call 687-1414.

Get pickin’: How about a little old-fashioned farm labor to celebrate the harvest season? There’s no better way to do it than by visiting WNC’s own world-famous apple country in Henderson County. Folks wanting to harvest their own apples can visit Sky Top Orchard or Grandad’s Apples ‘N’ Such. Both farms also offer cider and pumpkins.
• Sky Top Orchard: Pinnacle Mountain Road east of the town of Flat Rock. 692-7930.
• Grandad’s Apples ‘N’ Such: 2951 Chimney Rock Road, Hendersonville. 685-1685.

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