Creepy skeletons serve as sentinels to a spooky garden filled with the season’s harvest at Hale’s.

It’s time to dig up some great Halloween fun
October has arrived again in Sonoma County and with it comes a monster mash of Halloween-themed events, including pumpkin patches, spooky movie screenings, costume contests and even zombies in bookstores. As far as events to enjoy, they’re quickly becoming as plentiful as the leaves blanketing our sidewalks.
For kids  (or artistic adults, who choose fruit as their medium for creative expression), Sonoma County boasts a bountiful harvest of pumpkin patches to choose from.
Hale’s Apple Farm and Pumpkin Patch, located just north of Sebastopol along Highway 116, is a fruit stand and orchard whose owners put on a proud display of the season’s bounty every year. They offer orange and white pumpkins, gourds and squash all grown on-site, along with fresh and frozen apple juice and, of course, owner Dave Hale’s apples, picked from the trees right there behind the stand.
“During the season, we have over 30 different varieties of apples,” said Hale. “We’ve found over the years that people like different apples, so we’re trying to grow something for everybody … for customers who like tart apples, sweet apples, Gravensteins, they are willing to travel to Sebastopol to get them.”
Hale’s roadside stand has been open since 1978, although the farm itself dates all the way back to 1880. In the 1970s, falling apple prices offered by the local canneries encouraged Hale toward more direct marketing. “It seemed to work,” said Hale. “We’re still in agriculture.”
Hale’s favorite time of fall usually comes about 10 days after the first frost. “We’ll get a nice, quiet, warm day,” he said, “and the first fall colors. It will be the end of October, the first part of November that occurs. It’s real pretty, but brief.” Hale’s Apple Farm is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
If you live a little further east, search no further for your pumpkin-patch festivities than Olufs Ranch off Shiloh Road in Windsor. With a hay maze and pyramid for kids to climb on, a petting zoo, and a variety of pumpkin types of all sizes, Olufs Ranch could be the perfect locale for your golden fall memories. Olufs Ranch Pumpkin Patch is open from 1 p.m. to dusk Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to dusk Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1 through 31.
Up north you’ll find Grandma’s Pumpkin Patch in Healdsburg, open 10 a.m. to dusk all October. In addition to browsing for almost any size pumpkin, gourd or colorful Indian corn, visitors may also enjoy a petting zoo, cornfield and hay-bale pyramid. Sometimes, Grandma’s Pumpkin Patch even offers pony rides. For kids, that is. Adults may want to try a horse.
If pumpkin patches aren’t your thing or you just don’t want to get your hands all sticky from ripping out pumpkin innards, the season has many other festivities to offer as well.
In Geyserville, the fourth annual Trione Winery Halloween Party and Benefit will include a silent auction, a photo booth, ghoulish costumes and decorations, wine, beer and, of course, dancing and music. Auction prizes include everything from tours and tastings at local wineries to gift certificates, and even a 24-bottle-plus-magnum “in-stant” wine cellar. Pro-ceeds from the event will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of northern Son-oma County, including their Cloverdale, Geyser-ville and Healdsburg locations, as well as the Geyserville Educational Foundation (GEF).
“We’re all really excited,” said Tasting Room and Wine Club Manager Jessie Poshepny. “We’re working with the Boys and Girls Club. Last year we raised $8,000, so we’re hoping to raise more than that … that’s the main reason we do it.” In regard to GEF, Poshepny said, “We work really closely with Geyserville. The schools have needed money over the years, and it seemed like a good fit to work with them.”
According to Poshepny, the standout auction items this year include a little holiday house fixing-upping from one of the winery’s two handymen or a ride in a World War II-era airplane. Get your house spruced up in time for the holidays, or buckle in for an aerial blast from the past.
Of course, no Halloween would be complete without the black-and-white horror classics of the 1930s … or a parody of them. Catch a big-screen showing of Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” (that’s Fronk-en-shteen) at Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol at 7 p.m. on Oct. 30. Watch Gene Wilder teach his monster to put on the Ritz.
Dogs usually aren’t allowed in theaters—but this fall comes with events for pets, too, as the Dog Park Association of Windsor hosts its second-annual Howl-O-Ween Pawty on the Windsor Town Green. There will be a costume contest with winning categories for best dog, best kid, and best family —if you can get Ruffles, or the kids, or even yourself to wear one. The event will also include a silent raffle, face painting, a dog-kissing booth, a police canine demo and more. Get the paw-ty started on Sunday, Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
If you’re feeling especially gruesome this October, dress up like a zombie and shuffle around Sebastopol. Par-ticipants should arrive at Copperfield’s Books on Main Street at 11 a.m., hungry for brains. After a walk around town in search of characters who roam off by themselves (usually after saying, “I’ll be fine, don’t worry”), zombies will return to Copperfield’s for a zombie party to celebrate.
Whatever you decide to do in Sonoma County this Halloween season, watch out for dogs in costume, Fronk-en-shteen’s monster and zombies— have fun, and remember to wash those pumpkin seeds before you roast them.

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