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Fun things to do before winter

This month’s search for fun things to do before winter is all about local harvest and Halloween events that are close to Falcon and don’t cost a fortune.The list starts out nice and easy and advances up the “scare” scale to bone-chilling.Wishing Star Farm’s Fall Fest6760 Ropers Point, Black Foresthttp://WishingStarFarm.comAdmission: $10 per person; free for children under 2 years oldOpen: Saturdays and Sundays in October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.Wishing Star Farm’s fourth annual Fall Fest is just the thing for getting visitors young and old in the mood for autumn.While not scary in the spooky sense, the farm’s 100-foot hill slide is sure to get some hearts beating faster.The price of admission includes a free pumpkin, and each child weighing less than 65 pounds gets a pony ride (other children get a craft item).There are also hay rides, a barrel train ride (for small children only) plus a culvert swing, tractor tires, corn troughs and a hay pyramid for playing.The farm’s animal barn is filled with horses, sheep, pigs, chickens and other farm animals that can be petted.And then there’s the crop hopper – like a giant pillow – the only one in the Colorado Springs area where climbing is allowed.A portion of Fall Fest proceeds will be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.Fright in FalconDavid and Cathy Vredeveld’s house7310 Abilene Road, Falconhttp://FrightInFalcon.comAdmission: free, but donations are welcome and used to buy or build new propsOpen: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays in October, except for Saturday, Oct. 22. The maze is open every night from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 23 to Oct. 31. Check the Web site for bad weather closures.Public restrooms are not available, and the maze is not wheelchair accessible.Since 2006, the Vredeveld family has set up a 2,000-square-foot plywood maze that turns into a haunted area when ghoulish props, accompanied by eerie sound effects, are experienced in the dark of night.On their Web site, the Vredevelds talk about the family project.”We aren’t a big production. We have no funding or sponsorships from companies. We are simply a family that builds this every year for the pure joy of having something fun for our local community to do with their children.”Each year, the maze is laid out differently, so visitors of all ages can enjoy it over and over again.The Vredevelds look for a balance between “cool” and “scary,” but not too scary. They draw the line at having “monsters” jump out at visitors.The maze offers about an hour of entertainment for those who like to go through it multiple times. Many do just that, including 5-year-olds who start out scared and then can’t get enough.Parents are asked to accompany their children through the maze or at least remain on site.The Haunted Mines Haunted HouseThe Western Museum of Mining and Industry225 Old Northgate Road, Colorado Springshttp://HauntedMines.orgAdmission: $15 per person at the gate or onlineOpen: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting Oct. 7. Also open Thursdays starting Oct. 13 through Oct. 27; Wednesday, Oct. 26 and Monday, Oct. 31. Starting Oct. 21, visitors are advised to arrive by 6:30 p.m.Every year since 1993 the Western Museum of Mining and Industry has turned the museum (located on a 26-acre former dairy farm) into a creepy indoor, outdoor and underground experience.Visitors are subjected to disorienting and distracting sounds, lights, fog, smoke, wind, water, heat and other theatrical special effects; visitors might be required to bend, jump, climb, dash, slide or even run through segments of the haunted attraction, where sometimes the floor moves underfoot.Dress for hiking with a jacket and good footwear. Open-toed shoes, sandals and flip-flops are prohibited. Women are advised to wear slacks because the tour involves crawling through 20-inch square and 15-by-30-inch rectangular openings (a bypass is available – just ask one of the “monsters” for assistance).The attraction takes about 30 minutes to complete and is recommended for ages 13 and older. Younger children must be accompanied by an adult.Pregnant women and people with heart conditions, epilepsy or claustrophobia are advised to sit this one out.And, yes, the bats are real.Proceeds support the organization’s mission to educate the public about the history and continuing contributions of mining in the American West.

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