We may not have the cool, crisp temperatures and colorful falling leaves that those northerners enjoy, but nobody does autumn fairs and festivals like south Louisiana. It's the combination of delicious food, incomparable music and Bayou State culture at its best.
Some event organizers have opted to cancel or postpone this year due to the pandemic, but for many others, the show goes on.
Here are six October celebrations you'll want to be sure to add to your calendar.
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, LSU Rural Life Museum, 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge
Travel back to harvest time on Louisiana farms in the 19th century. Watch living history interpreters cooking on an open hearth, making soap, blacksmithing, writing with quill pens, tatting, spinning and more; or tour the grounds on a wagon ride. Musical or performance groups and times will include Bookter Roscoe and Abadie, intermittently from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Fugitive Poets, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; Caledonian Society of Baton Rouge, 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.; and 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.; James Linden and Jim Hogg, 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.; and Lagniappe Historic Dance and Pastime Society, the top of every hour except noon. General admission fees apply. https://www.lsu.edu/rurallife/events.php
Denham Springs Antique District Festival
9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, historic district, Denham Springs (Range and Railroad avenues and Mattie Street)
With more than 165 local and regional artists and craftsmen, this is Livingston Parish’s largest arts and crafts festival. The Denham Springs Antique Merchants Association and Pelican State Credit Union presents the rain-or-shine event. In addition to the vendors, there will be live entertainment — music, dance and pets — including James Linden and Jim Hogg, Clifton Brown and The Rusty Bucket Band, Odyssey Dance, Pet Spooktacular Contest, River City Boys, The Troubadours and Amethyst; Greater Baton Rouge Model Railroaders; Kids Free Fun Zone; 25-plus food vendors; and the Denham Springs Farmer’s Market. Parking and admission to the festival are free. denhamspringsantiquedistrict.com
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, West Baton Rouge Museum, 845 N. Jefferson Ave., Port Allen
Learn about local culture, music and history in this annual celebration of the sugar cane harvest. Look for a variety of art vendors, folk art and occupational craft demonstrations, a peek inside museum exhibits and historic buildings, cane cutting and grinding demonstrations, cane syrup boiling, and live music. In addition, there will be old-fashioned pastimes for children, a Café Français tent, food and drink booths, lots of sugary treats, a Sweets Booth contest, fresh chewing cane samples, and for those age 21 and older, a rum tasting and discussion on how this spirit is made from Louisiana’s sweetest cash crop. Visitors are asked to wear masks and stay socially distanced. All events are outdoors this year to further festgoers' safety. The celebration is free and open to the public. https://westbatonrougemuseum.org/
Boo at the Zoo
9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (admission gates close at 4 p.m.) Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 16-17 and 23-24, BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo, 3601 Thomas Road, Baton Rouge
Hint: It's merry and not scary. Must be Boo at the Zoo. It's the 25th year for the annual trick-or-treat extravaganza presented by Hancock Whitney Bank. New this year is the Capital City Produce Pumpkin Patch, a prime photo backdrop, and children ages 12 and younger can take one mini-pumpkin home. Also planned are prepackaged treat bags for children, Halloween costume contest, fall- and Halloween-themed inflatables, decorated pumpkins throughout the zoo, special character visits from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. Holiday-themed enrichments will be provided to the zoo’s animals throughout the day. Regular zoo admission applies; free for members. http://www.brzoo.org/events/special/boo-at-the-zoo/
Greater Baton Rouge State Fair
5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and. Sunday, Oct. 28-Nov. 7, BREC's Airline Highway Park, 16072 Airline Highway, Baton Rouge
For its 55th annual event, the fair is bringing back three of its most popular attractions — Pages Globe of Death Motorcycle Stunt Show, Swifty Swine Pig Racing, and Noah’s Way Exotic Animal Petting Zoo. Musical performers are back as well, including David St. Romain, the Ole Sole Band, the Justin McCain Project, Chris LeBlanc & Chris Roberts, and Chubby Carrier. Also look for rides and games for children of all ages on the midway, and special attractions daily. And don't forget that great fair food. gbrsf.com
Yellow Leaf Arts Festival
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 30-31, Parker Park, Commerce Street at Burnett Road, St. Francisville
The focus is original and unique work by a variety of juried artists and craftspeople at this annual free Arts For All event. The featured artist will be ceramist Denise Greenwood-Loveless. Musical entertainers throughout the weekend will include Gina Forsyth, Clay Parker & Jodi James, The Fugitive Poets, Steve Judice and Day Trip. Also on the schedule are a plein-air painting event, make-and-do tent, pottery demonstration with hands-on opportunities for the crowd, paintings, pottery, functional art, jewelry and more for purchase. artsforallstfrancisville.com