Family Time: Top October events around metro Phoenix

Fall in Arizona means pumpkin festivals, fair rides and lots of outdoor activities.

October brings a bountiful list of outdoor festivals and fairs and a whole lot of comfort food. Get those Halloween costumes ready, because you’re going to want to show them off this month at the endless spooky (and not-so-spooky) familycelebrations.

Find more extensive day-by-day event listings at

Sept. 28-Nov. 4:

Pumpkin Days & Corn Maze. Tolmachoff Farms hosts fall fun all month with its six-acre family corn maze, mini corn maze for little ones, petting zoo, jumping pillow, hay pyramid, farm activities and play areas.

Oct. 4-28:

Pumpkin and Chili Party. Grab your wagon and head over to the annual fall festival at Schnepf Farms. Pick out the perfect pumpkin, then enjoy a chili dinner. Admission includes rides, games, fall activities, pig races and entertainment.

Oct. 5-28:

Arizona State Fair. For more than 100 years, Arizonans have gathered at this annual event to fill up on fried foods, seek thrill rides and master carnival games. Check for daily grandstand events, specials exhibits, petting zoos and concerts, including The Wallflowers, 38 Special, Big & Rich and Sesame Street Live! at the Arizona State Fairgrounds.

Oct. 6- Jan. 13:

Cosmic Playground. Learn more about space, our solar system and the universe at the Arizona Science Center’s new “Cosmic Playground” exhibit. Space lovers can climb, slide and explore the galaxy in an interactive play space constructed almost entirely of tape. Lie in a tunnel of stars, climb into a wormhole or slide down a black hole.

Oct. 6-7:

Railfair.  McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park’s annual celebration features model train displays and exhibits and a wide selection of the park’s seldom-seen vintage railroad equipment along with special presentations on railroad and Arizona history. Free admission; $2 rides on the Paradise & Pacific Railroad and Charros Carousel.

Oct. 6-Jan. 27:

Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire. Experience world heritage archaeological treasures for the first time through this exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. Partnering with Arizona State University’s archaeology faculty, this exhibit provides insight into the art, everyday life, and religion of Teotihuacan — the first and largest metropolis on the American continent — and its influence on other regions of Mexico through sculptures, friezes, murals and domestic objects.

Oct. 12- May 12:

Electric Desert. Desert Botanical Garden invites families to see the desert in a new way at this light-and-sound experience by Klip Collective. Cacti and desert trees and plants become a living canvas in this nighttime experience of projected lights and original music.

Oct. 12-14

Four Peaks Oktoberfest. Bratwurst, brews and music take over Tempe Town Lake and turn it into a Bavarian playground at this annual festival, proceeds from which help send Tempe high school students to sister cities around the world. Brown’s Amusements returns with carnival rides, games and a Kinderfest play area at Tempe Beach Park.

Phoenix Greek Festival. Come for the food and stay for the dancing! This is the longest-running and largest ethnic festival in the Valley featuring Greek food, music, dancing, jewelry and art at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Community Center in Phoenix.

Oct. 12-28:

Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical. Valley Youth Theatre stages the story of Lily Polkadot, who just moved to a “Squares Only” small town. From daily bullying to the segregated drinking fountains, Lily’s quest for acceptance seems hopeless until she meets Sky. Inspired by Civil Rights pioneers Ruby Bridges and The Little Rock Nine, Polkadots is a colorful history lesson meant to remind kids (and parents) that our differences make us awesome, not outcasts.

Oct. 13:

Earth and Space Exploration Day. This free event is hosted by the School of Earth and Space Exploration on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. Ages 5 and up will enjoy hands-on science activities, more than 40 exhibitors and 3D astronomy shows in the Marston Exploration Theater. Experts from the Center for Meteorite Studies will examine your rock specimens to determine if they are meteorites. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free with registration. Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV, 781 S. Terrace Road, Tempe.

Oct. 13-14

Arizona Taco Festival. Forget Taco Tuesday. Celebrate your favorite cuisine all weekend long at the annual Scottsdale tacotopia with 50 restaurants dishing out $2 tacos. Kids can ride a mechanical bull, hop in a hamster ball or jump in a bounce house. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.  $12; free for ages 12 and younger. Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, 7555 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale.

Oct. 19-28:

Care Card shopping week. Anyone who buys a $60 Board of Visitors Care Card (to benefit blind children) will save 20 percent on purchases at more than 500 participating local and national retailers and restaurants — including family favorites such as Kidstop Toys, Book & Baby; Pottery Barn; The Container Store; Sauce Pizza and Wing and the Shake Shack.

Enchanted Pumpkin Garden. World-renowned pumpkin carver Ray Villafane and his team host live demonstrations at Carefree’s annual event. Pumpkin photo ops, one-of-a-kind scarecrows, inflatable corn maze, face painting, crafts and costume and pie-eating contests.

Oct. 20:

International Archeology Day. Celebrate the thrill of discovery at the Pueblo Grande Museum in Phoenix with site tours, hands-on archaeology activities and demonstrations that will channel your inner Indiana Jones. Enjoy lunch from the Yellowman Fry Bread food truck and a lecture with Dr. Glen Rice about food sharing. 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Register for two-for-one tickets. $6; $3 ages 6-17; free for ages 5 and younger. 4619 E. Washington St., Phoenix. 602-495-0900 or

Oct. 26-27:

Strange Garden. Dance with groovy ghouls, stroll Boo Alley and see pumpkins carved by Villafane Studios at the Desert Botanical Garden. Plus live performances, face painting and food and beverage vendors. Ages 12 and younger get a pumpkin. Family-friendly costumes encouraged; see website for restrictions. 5:30-9 p.m. $24.95; $12.95 for ages 3-17; free for ages 2 and younger. 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix. 480-941-1225 or

Calendar Editor Liz Petroff of Phoenix is the mother of Jack (10) and Lucy (8). Send event info to liz(at)