Autumn conjures up different memories and images for different people. While some people love to see the fiery red, orange, and yellow leaves blanketing a mountainside, others relish the change in weather, from sweltering heat to cool, crisp breezes. Still others love the chills of a haunted Halloween.
But almost everyone can agree that there’s nothing like a fall festival. Throughout Alabama, you’ll find a wide variety of fall festivals, as well as a number of farms that host corn mazes. To help you plan a fall road trip, we’ve highlighted several must-see mazes and celebrations.
Fall festivals aren’t just about hayrides and pumpkin patches anymore. In towns across Alabama, fall celebrations now offer amazing food, music, art displays and funky events.
Cullman Oktoberfest Break out the lederhosen for a good old fashioned Oktoberfest the first weekend of October in the town of Cullman. This four-day event has it all—bed races, "Weiner Dog" (Dachshund) races, a car show, and candlelight walking tours of the historic town. Of course, the festival also features amazing German food, like hot German potato salad, German pork roast, sauerkraut, and tasty beer with Southern-sounding names like Goat Island Sipsey River Red, Cheaha Oktoberfest, and Tuscaloosa Stout.
National Shrimp Festival
The Alabama Gulf Coast puts a twist on the fall festival with the annual National Shrimp Festival. Held in the middle of October on the beaches of Gulf Shores, the Shrimp Festival features a sand sculpture contest, 5K run, children’s activity village, arts and crafts, over 100 hours of music, and food...lots of it...all centered around succulent Gulf shrimp.
Boll Weevil Festival Each October, the town of Enterprise holds the Boll Weevil Festival to celebrate the history of the town. In the early and mid 1900s, boll weevils devastated the economy of the South by destroying millions of acres of cotton. The residents of Coffee County, however, were growing peanuts, so Enterprise boomed while the rest of the area was going under economically. To celebrate their good fortune, the people of Cullman host a festival that includes a car show, music, lots of food, and a costume contest.
Elberta Sausage Festival Another great Oktoberfest celebration is the Elberta Sausage Festival, which has been held the last weekend of March and October since 1978. This unique fundraiser for the Elberta Volunteer Fire Department includes carnival rides, polka dancing, German music, and delicious German food, including incredible locally made sausage. While the taste of the delicious dogs has changed slightly over the years, the basic recipe has been kept a well-guarded secret since the beginning of the fest. The fire department sells more than 6,000 pounds of it each year!
Alabama Butterbean Festival The delectable butterbean is celebrated in the town of Pinson the first weekend of October each year at the Alabama Butterbean Festival. Located just northeast of Birmingham, the town opens its doors to bean lovers for a weekend filled with music, arts and crafts, and delicious dishes all centered around some amazing butterbean recipes.
Into the Maze
The first corn maze in the United States is accredited to Don Frantz who built the "Amazing Maize Maze" in Annville, Pennsylvania, in 1993. Today, corn mazes dot the landscape across America, and the following five mazes are some of the best Alabama has to offer.
Magnolia Corn Maze Not just one, but two 8-acre corn mazes await you at the Magnolia Corn Maze in Summerdale along the Alabama Gulf Coast. Magnolia is loaded with fun for people of all ages, including hayrides, a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, and something a little different—paintball. And of course, there are those corn mazes, each featuring a different Alabama theme with check-in stations along the way where you can collect stamps for prizes.
Sand Mountain Corn Maze Located between Guntersville and Gadsden, the Sand Mountain Corn Maze in Sardis City is a real brain bender, covering a whopping 14 acres. But, you’ll also have a blast with Zombie Paintball, where you try to kill ghoulish undead attackers. For kids, there are lots of less-intense, fun things, like hayrides, a play barn, and the Cow Train, which has train cars made of 55-gallon barrels painted to look like cows.
\ _4D Corn Maze _
The 4D Family Farm in Cullman is just that, a family farm that each year opens its 96 acres to the public for a fall festival and corn maze. While the maze includes a short route that young children will love, there’s also a much longer route for adults, and it’s said that if you’re good you can finish it in just about an hour. Good luck!
Your admission to the festival includes a hayride that takes you out to the pumpkin patch where kids get to pick their own. Plus, you get admission to a petting zoo, a 2000-square-foot jumping pillow, ziplines, and the 80-foot Black Mamba Slide!
Griffin Farms In 1941, Griffin Farm began as a dairy farm, but it switched to pumpkin farming in 2013 and hasn’t looked back. Each fall, the farm carves out an intricate corn maze and sets up interesting side attractions, including a corn crib for the kids to play in, slides and swings, a petting zoo, and the pumpkin patch where you pick your own. For those seeking more of a thrill, there are ziplines and rock climbing walls, including a small wall for kids and a challenging 18-footer.
Sleepy Hollow Haunted Farm What would autumn be without a little Halloween scare? There are plenty of spooky things lurking behind the corn stalks at the Sleepy Hollow Haunted Farm in Auburn. Not only is there a haunted maze, but there’s also a haunted house and haunted hayride where you can get the living daylights scared out of you.
Written by Joe Cuhaj for RootsRated in partnership with BCBS of AL.