Like a pumpkin sprouting from a field, the Country Pumpkins fall festival grew from a relatively small thing. In 2000, the Colson family began selling pumpkins on the side of the road, trusting passersby to leave their payments in a simple honesty box. The customers came through, helping the small venture grow eventually into an annual event with rides, crafts, and mazes.
Today, the festival—held at the Colson's family farm, Alpine Hills Dairy Farm—features everything from tractor-drawn hayrides snaking through the land to a farm-animal petting zoo and corn maze. The straw maze continues the outdoor family fun and a barrel train ride for kids 13 and under in the crisp autumn air, leaves nearby scarecrows dreaming of careers as conductors. With a variety of pumpkins for sale, families can seek out the idea pumpkin to carve or roast.
Paul Miller has been laughed at for most of his life. Not in the sad, pity-inducing way, but as a touring member of the Ringling Bros. Circus where he steered the clown car and strode upon stilts, charming audience members with his comedic exploits. Eventually, however, he wanted to extend the circus's reach—not only to those who yearned for a chance to fly on the trapeze, but to people who, by virtue of their age, background, or disability, doubted their capacity to do so. He created Circus Mojo as a noncompetitive venue for absolutely anyone interested in the big-top arts to discover and showcase their own “mojo,” conducting lessons with a joint emphasis on physical feats and creativity.
Circus Mojo's staff boasts the equipment and expertise to lead classes on plate spinning, clowning, and acrobatics, among several other performance styles. In addition to holding workshops and summer camps at their studio space, they parade their comedic and aerial talents at special events, such as birthday parties and protest rallies against gravity. In keeping with Paul's vision of circus outreach—a goal that has earned the circus considerable press coverage—they travel to hospitals and incorporate residents into the act through the Mojo Medicine program. Paul also works with struggling youth from high schools and detention centers, striving to impart the sense of accomplishment and inspiration that stems from owning the spotlight.
Totter's Otterville emulates a friendly village filled with vast exhibits dedicated to educational entertainment. Children can frolic within the train room, which hosts two Thomas the Tank Engine tables and a road-map carpet, or waddle to a live-performance area where staff members present daily shows involving puppets, story time, and tales of the tooth fairy's unhealthy obsession with small-size teeth. Do-it-yourself face painting encourages creative portraiture, and a construction zone encourages playing with giant trucks and a remodeled ball pit and climber area soaks up excess energy and teaches valuable lessons to children with loose car keys. Additionally, a café serves pizzas, wraps, salads, and a variety of healthful snacks.