Strap in for a ride of fall events!

You don’t have to travel from Pender County to enjoy a wide selection of events and festivals. October features two of the nation’s best, the award-winning Ocean Fest in Surf City Oct. 13-14, and Autum with Topsail in Topsail Beach on Oct. 20-22.
These two festivals are family fun. Both feature a great selection of live music, food, and beverages.

As far as October events, our local farmers are gearing up for family fun down on the farm. Humphrey Farms and Gregory Farms and Vineyard will feature fall activities. Go to their Facebook pages for dates and times.

If you have not explored the Gardens of Southeastern North Carolina, you are missing a fall gem. Located on the grounds of Johnson Nursery, the Gardens host their Annual Fall Festival on Oct. 14. Admission is free. The kids will love the activities. Moms will love the colorful gardens. Dads will be intrigued by the outdoor pizza oven. There’s something for everyone. But the fun doesn’t stop at the fall festival. Every weekend the Gardens host fun events, such as a wreath-making workshop, and more. If you haven’t liked their Facebook page or bookmarked their website, you are missing a great time right here in our backyard!

The Town of Burgaw is hosting its first Autumn Fest on Oct. 21 from 9-5 on the Courthouse Square. Enjoy live music, a 5K Race, craft vendors, a costume contest, a pumpkin decorating contest, and more.

If you like outdoor movies, Burgaw will show Top Gun Maverick on Oct. 20 and Monsters, Inc. on Oct. 27 starting at 7 p.m. in Rotary Park. Bring your blankets or lawn chairs and snacks.

October events wrap up the Ghost Walk of Pender’s Past at Burgaw Cemetery on Oct. 28. Hear the ghost stories from Pender’s legends and lore. This year, hear the spooky story of the unknown sailor, haunting pirates, and Nora who haunts Poplar Grove while packing her 22-caliber pistol. Tickets for Ghost Walk are on sale now. The link to purchase tickets online can be found on the Ghost Walk Facebook page or call the tourism office at 910-259-1278. Hurry. Tickets are going fast. This is a one-night event this year.

In 2024 North Carolina is celebrating the Year of the Trail. Pender County Tourism and its partners have hosted one family-fun hike per month. If the Federal Government doesn’t shut down, Moores Creek National Battlefield will host Outlander Day. Walk the history told in the popular Outland series with Jason Howell on Oct. 14. Hikes will take place at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m.

In November, the Year of the Trail hikes will take us to Miller’s Pond for the Turkey Trek Hike. Learn the art of turkey calls while hiking around the park. The Turkey Trek Hike is set for Nov. 14. Meet at the parking lot at 4 p.m.

Back by popular demand, the Topsail Beach Top Secret Hike is returning on Nov. 4 for hikes at 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 11 a.m. Register for a time slot by calling the tourism office. Spaces are limited on the all-paved, all-access hike that explores Operation Bumblebee.

Another highlight this fall is the annual Candlelight Tour at Moores Creek National Battlefield on Nov. 18. This walk-through history, at night, is the closest we will come to experiencing what the soldiers experienced on the dark morning of Feb. 27, 1776. Call the park for registration. These tours fill quickly. If there is a government shutdown, the candlelight tour will move to Nov. 11.

November and December are jam-packed with tree-lighting celebrations and more. But that’s for another column, another day!