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16 Fall Festival Ideas: A Thorough Guide for Fundraisers, Communities, and Harvests

Yashika Tangri
November 21, 2023
14
min read

Are you looking to organize a memorable fall festival that celebrates the season, brings your community closer, and boosts your fundraising efforts?

If so, you've come to the right place.

Though there are many ways to throw a successful fall festival, one thing is essential: you need great ideas.

Here are 16 ideas for your fall festival that will give you everything you need to throw a successful and memorable event.

A. 7 tips on how to organize a successful fall festival

Before diving right into the ideas, let's understand what you need to keep in mind when planning a fall festival.

1. Start planning early

Starting your preparations early gives you ample time to plan out every detail. Identify your objectives, set the date, and decide on the venue. Allowing several months for planning can minimize last-minute rush and stress.

2. Choose the right activities

Select activities that embody the spirit of fall and appeal to a broad audience. Incorporate games like pumpkin carving contests, corn mazes, or leaf art workshops from our list of fall festival ideas. Also, consider including activities that cater to different age groups for wider participation.

3. Set a transparent budget

Determining your budget is crucial to ensure you can comfortably fund all planned activities. Be sure to break down the budget into different categories, such as decorations, marketing, activities, and food. This transparency allows efficient allocation and management of funds.

4. Secure enough volunteers

Reach out to community members, friends, or family to volunteer at the event. Divide them into teams responsible for specific areas, like handling games, food stations, or cleanup.

5. Market your event

Good marketing can attract a larger crowd. Promote your festival on community boards, social media platforms, or local newspapers. Teaming up with local businesses or influencers to spread the word can be a very effective strategy.

6. Keep safety in mind

It's essential to ensure the safety of your attendees. Providing sufficient signage, secure game equipment, and first aid facilities can create a safe environment. Proper lighting is necessary to prevent accidents if you're planning nighttime activities.

7. Set up ticket sales or generation

A clear ticket sales or generation system is crucial for a successful event. Determine the pricing structure and create an online registration platform where attendees can purchase tickets.

Ensure attendee information is securely stored for easy check-ins. You can also offer early bird discounts, group rates, and various ticket options, like individual activity tickets or all-inclusive passes, to encourage attendance. To sort this out, you can use Ticket Generator; this will allow you to create a registration system that can be used on any device.

B. 16 Fall festival ideas

Though there are many ideas for fall festivals, few are truly unique. Here are some of the best fall festival ideas that you can implement without fail:

i. Games and Contests

Let's start with the games and contests.

1. Pumpkin carving contest

  • Budget: Low
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Suitable for all ages

What better way to start your fall festival than with a pumpkin carving contest? Sounds old school, but who doesn't love some friendly competition? 

 Pumpkin craving: Fall festival ideas

Set up a designated space for your creative attendees, stock it with plenty of pumpkins, and grab those carving tools! Have people pre-register for the contest, and categorize them by age so everyone's got a fair shot! 

What's a contest without judges, right? Have a panel of experts rate entries on creativity, execution, and sticking to a theme (if you have one). And for the winners? 

Prizes, of course! From fall-themed goodies to festival merch or even gift cards, make 'em feel like champs! 

Now, don't forget to showcase all those fantastic pumpkin masterpieces for everyone to marvel at - and pose for selfies!

2. Hayride tour

  • Budget: Moderate
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Suitable for all ages

Nothing embodies the spirit of autumn more than a hayride tour. You could pair up with a local farm for this or arrange it within your festival site. If a hay wagon is stretching your resources, alternatives like tractor rides or horse-drawn carriages can evoke a similar vibe.

Go for an added twist - include a guided tour that provides intriguing local history or agricultural facts, turning the entertaining ride into an educational one! Throw in some pit stops - think apple picking areas, petting zoos, or picnic spots. In the evening, watch the ride transform into a magical journey by lighting the path with lanterns or fairy lights.

3. Corn maze adventure

  • Budget: High
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Suitable for all ages

Adding a Corn Maze Adventure brings extra excitement to your fall festival. Collaborate with a local farm with a corn maze, or create your own if you have a suitable field.

Corn maze adventure: Fall festival ideas

Design the maze with a mixture of easy and complex routes to cater to all age groups and adventure levels. Interesting twists can be added, like hiding clues or treasures within the maze for an added challenge. Ensure it is well-staffed with guides to help if anyone gets too lost.

Additionally, setting up lighting for evening times can extend the activity hours and add an entirely different, more mysterious feel to the adventure. The corn maze can double as a beautiful backdrop for festival-goers, creating Instagram-worthy photo opportunities.

4. Apple bobbing competition

  • Budget: Low
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Suitable for all ages

Ready for a splash of old-fashioned fun? The Apple Bobbing Competition is the way to go! This infectious, fun-packed activity requires just apples, a good-sized tub of water, and enthusiastic participants who don't mind a bit of an aquatic apple adventure! 

Apple bobbing: Fall festival ideas
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The challenge is simple, bob as many apples as possible with nothing but your mouth - against the clock! Imagine the laughter ringing out across your festival!

Wait! We need to talk about hygiene, right? So, rather than having a common pool, consider individual mini-basins. Now that's taking fun seriously! 

Organize it with different categories to span the ages, making it enjoyable for everyone. Winners walk away with prizes, but really, everyone's a winner when they're having a whole barrel of fun! 

5. Haunted house

  • Budget: High
  • Difficulty level: Hard
  • Suitable for older children and adults

Got thrill-seekers in your crowd? Time to set the stage for some shivers (in a fun way, of course!) with your very own Haunted House! Introduce your attendees to an exciting, heart-racing adventure that ties in perfectly with the Halloween season.

Haunted house: Fall festival ideas

The horror quotient? You decide it! You can make your haunted house range anywhere from family-friendly spookiness to adrenaline-pumping terror. Just remember to cater to your audience and their thrill-tolerance level.

ii. Creative and educational Workshops

Apart from games and contests, you can also incorporate educational workshops in your fall festival. Here are some ideas for fun and educational workshops:

6. Fall recipe cook-off

  • Budget: Moderate
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Suitable for all ages

Well, who doesn’t love a cook-off, especially one that celebrates the soulful flavors of fall? A Fall Recipe Cook-Off can be a real crowd-puller! Just think about it – inviting participants to bring their best fall dishes – tantalizing stews, melt-in-your-mouth apple pies, or fragrant pumpkin loaves. 

To ensure food safety, asking participants to prepare their dishes at the festival using the provided ingredients might be advisable.

Set up cooking stations and let the public watch the cooking process. Assign a panel of food-loving judges to taste the dishes and select a winner based on taste, creativity, technique, and presentation.

Consider publishing the winning recipes on your festival's website or in a local newspaper column. A cook-off event is not just about competition but also about sharing the love for cooking and fall flavors within your community.

7. Scarecrow making contest

  • Budget: Low
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Suitable for all ages

A Scarecrow-making contest is a fall-themed event encouraging participants to tap into their creative side. What do you need? Just some hay, old clothes, markers, and a snappy imagination. Don’t forget to set up a good workspace.

Scarecrow making contest: Fall festival ideas

Let’s add a twist – announce some rules or themes to keep everyone on their toes. Maybe match it up with holidays, popular movie characters, or spooky Halloween styles, whatever suits your festival's vibe.

Getting people excited about participation is half the job. The other is to judge each entry on creativity, arrangement, and use of materials. Meanwhile, why not use these intriguing masterpieces to add flavor to your festival décor?

8. Leaf art workshop

  • Budget: Low
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Suitable for all ages

A Leaf Art Workshop is a fantastic way to appreciate and celebrate the beauty of fall. 

Leaf art workshop: Fall festival ideas

This activity won't require much from your budget but can offer an incredible amount of fun. Here's what we'll need:

  • Diverse types of fallen leaves
  • Construction paper in various colors
  • Glue
  • Markers
  • Glitter

Find an experienced educator or art instructor who can guide this workshop. They can help the participants identify different types of leaves and use them to create their own autumnal masterpieces.  

9. Autumnal flower arrangement workshop

  • Budget: Moderate
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Suitable for all ages

Your guests are going to love an Autumnal Flower Arrangement Workshop. It's another low-stress, high-reward, and creativity-boosting activity. For this, you can collaborate with a local florist or craft enthusiast to lead the workshop.

Workshop ideas: Fall festival ideas

Gather a range of fall flowers or plants, such as mums, sunflowers, marigolds, asters, dried wheat, and even small pumpkins. Participants can choose their materials and learn how to arrange them into a beautiful autumn-themed display.

The best part? Everyone gets to take home their floral arrangements! It's not just a fantastic souvenir from your festival, but also a way for them to continue practicing and enjoying their new skill at home.

iii. Fundraising activities

If you are trying to raise money for a charity or cause, the festival can be a great opportunity. This could be as simple as selling tickets at the door; you could also offer a variety of more elaborate fundraising activities such as raffles, auctions, and contests.

Here are some ideas:

10. Harvest market

  • Budget: Moderate
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Suitable for all ages

Create a bustling atmosphere at your fall festival by setting up a Harvest Market. It's a wonderful platform for local vendors to present and sell their locally produced goods, from fresh fruits and vegetables to homemade crafts and baked goods.

In setting up different sections, like organic produce, handmade crafts, or artisanal bread, you'd be fostering a sense of community while supporting local farmers and artisans.

What about adding an interactive twist? Consider having live demonstrations or cooking classes that feature local products. Moreover, a part of the earnings from vendors, or a stall fee, could contribute to a noble cause, making this market not just a shopping hub, but a way to give back.

11. Fall photography contest

  • Budget: Low
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Suitable for all ages

A Fall Photography Contest is an excellent way for attendees to engage with the beauty of the season and the festival. This activity invites participants to capture the essence of fall in various categories like 'Best Landscape,' 'Best Portrait,' and 'Best Colors of Fall.' 

Fundraising ideas for Fall festival: Fall festival ideas

Participants can submit their photos directly to a panel of judges or through a social media platform.

A Fall Photography Contest can include a small entry fee for each submission, which can contribute to the fundraising effort. You could also sell high-quality prints of the best entries, adding a way for funds to be raised.

You can design and sell tickets directly from Ticket Generator. You can track the number of tickets sold, attendees engaged, and more statistics.

12. Cider tasting station

  • Budget: Moderate
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Suitable for adults

If you like the sound of festival-goers getting a tantalizing taste of fall, consider setting up a Cider Tasting Station. Get local cider vendors on board to present an array of delicious ciders, with flavors spanning from the classic apple cider to more adventurous ones like blackberry or pineapple.

Tasting tickets can also be used as a fundraising tool. Just charge a small fee for each tasting ticket or contribute part of the proceeds from any cider bottles sold towards your cause. It's a perfect way to mix indulgence with charity!

13. Lantern release

  • Budget: Moderate
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Suitable for all ages

Imagine this: closing out a magical day at your festival with an equally enchanting Lantern Release ceremony. Picture your attendees, each holding a glowing paper lantern, and releasing them into the evening sky. Doesn't that paint a breathtaking sea of floating lights? Isn't it a joy-sparking end to a perfect day?

 Fall festival ideas

Each lantern can symbolize anything from letting go to making a wish or just celebrating togetherness. Just don't forget to have a quick check on those environmental guidelines and safety measures, alright? We all want this to be memorable and safe!

Bonus idea: Sell the lanterns for a small price. The funds raised can go straight towards your goal, creating a memorable finale with a charitable twist. How cool is that?

14. Tree planting activity

  • Budget: Moderate
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Suitable for all ages

And speaking of eco-friendly and interactive events, how about including a Tree Planting Activity at your festival? It couldn't be more perfect for bringing people together and contributing to Mother Earth too.

Imagine hosting a mini masterclass, led by a gardening expert, about the incredible importance of trees, how to plant them, and all those tips and tricks to keep them flourishing. Hand out saplings to the participants and guide them to their designated areas for their tree-planting debut.

And what if, for each tree planted, we suggest a small contribution? We're not only sowing the seeds of environmental preservation but also 'growing' funds for your cause. Now, isn't that neat?

iv. Community and family-friendly activities

Let's not forget the importance of entertainment. People love to get together and celebrate, making it a great idea to plan fun events for both children and adults. Here are a couple of ideas:

15. Bonfire and storytelling

  • Budget: Low
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Suitable for all ages

What better way to end a fantastic day at your festival than by gathering together as the sun sets - in front of a crackling bonfire, no less? We're talking about the magic of the Bonfire and Storytelling activity!

 Fall festival ideas

Think cozy. Think nostalgic. This is the time to invite experienced storytellers - maybe some local authors too - to mesmerize the crowd with their tales. The more related to the fall season or local history, the better - we love a good theme!

You can even invite children to come up with their own stories and ask them to share them with the audience. You can also get creative with this activity by having musicians play around the bonfire as people settle in for a fireside chat.

16. Petting zoo

  • Budget: High
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Suitable for all ages

For our next act, we're going to turn up the cute factor and dial down the fur-phobia - introducing the Petting Zoo! This one is a surefire winner, especially for families with young kids. It's not just about the "aww" factor though. It's also about providing an interactive, educational experience to teach little ones about different species and their care.

Imagine an enclosure filled with friendly creatures like mini ponies, fluffy bunnies, clucking chickens, baa-ing sheep, and bleating goats. Just remember, safety regulations and animal welfare are absolutely paramount! It's fun, engaging, and oh-so-cuddly!

C. Top 5 Inspiring Examples of Fall Festival Events

When planning your fall festival, you can look to previous successful events for inspiration.

Below are five standout examples of fall festival events that have effectively engaged their communities, fundraising for worthy causes, and celebrated the season's harvest.

1. The New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival

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Known for its impressive tower of jack-o-lanterns, this annual event attracts tens of thousands of visitors with unique attractions such as pumpkin carving, pie-eating contests, firework displays, and live music.

What sets this festival apart is the grand decorating spectacle - a tower made of jack-o-lanterns. While pumpkin carvings and pie-eating contests can be seen at other fall festivals, the iconic pumpkin tower of this festival is an awe-inspiring sight that draws large crowds. Additionally, the spectacular fireworks display adds a unique touch to the autumn festivities.

2. Circleville Pumpkin Show

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Dubbed Ohio's oldest and largest festival, Circleville Pumpkin Show boasts numerous attractions, including pumpkin-themed food contests, parades, and agricultural displays that celebrate the local pumpkin harvest.

As Ohio's oldest and largest festival, Circleville Pumpkin Show's stand-out feature is its long-standing roots and its massive scale. The festival has retained its charm with traditional attractions like pumpkin-themed food contests, parades, and agricultural displays.

3. Autumn at the Arboretum

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Located in Dallas, this event has been named one of "America's Best Pumpkin Festivals". It showcases a captivating display of over 90,000 pumpkins, squash, and gourds, complemented by beautifully crafted botanical displays.

This, paired with the beautifully crafted botanical displays, offers attendees a feast for the eyes and a unique embodiment of the fall season's beauty.

4. Oktoberfest Zinzinnati

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As the largest Oktoberfest celebration in the U.S., this event combines traditional German customs with festive fall celebrations, featuring Bavarian music, German-style food, and the famed "Running of the Wieners" dachshund race.

The noted "Running of the Wieners" dachshund race is a unique, whimsical event that not only adds novelty but also draws considerable audience interest.

5. Napa Valley Harvest Festival

This event celebrates the region's wine harvest with an elegant autumnal gathering. Festival-goers can look forward to vineyard tours, wine tastings, and gourmet food offerings, along with live music and art exhibits.

Unlike other fall festivals centered around harvests or Oktoberfest, the Napa Valley Harvest Festival is unique in celebrating the region's wine harvest. The festival's refined character is evident in its elegant autumnal gathering, vineyard tours, wine tastings, and gourmet food offerings. This gourmet spin on a fall festival personalizes the event to the region's renowned wine history, providing a unique and cultured experience for festival-goers.

Each of these festivals offers a tangible sense of community spirit and creativity. When planning your fall festival, consider what unique local attributes or traditions you could highlight to make the event as engaging and meaningful as possible.

Wrapping up

The ideas here are endless from haunted houses to corn mazes and pumpkin patches. Once you have set them, you can start marketing your festival. Use social media, word of mouth, and local press to get the word out about your event.

You can start by setting up a registration page on Ticket Generator. If it's paid, your audience can pay and send their tickets directly to the event. This makes it easy for you to manage and sell tickets.

Moreover, it has thousands of ticket templates to choose from, so designing your tickets is no longer a problem. Start designing your first 10 tickets for free now!

Yashika Tangri

Yashika Tangri is an amazing marketing manager who operates from Trycon Technology's Noida office. Her name signifies success and fame, and she has certainly lived up to these expectations.

At work, Yashika is a highly efficient digital marketing organizer and a source of inspiration to her colleagues with her positive demeanor and professional work ethics. Despite being a lifelong student of science, Yashika decided to pursue a career in marketing in 2018.

After work hours, Yashika enjoys creating new playlists on Spotify, and she is an avid reader who finds solace in escaping reality through the pages of mythology books.