WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Enjoy Williams and the brisk mountain air like never before this October with the 2012 Alpine Harvest Festival featuring events and activities at Bearizona Wildlife Park and the Grand Canyon Railway, as well as a scarecrow contest held right here in town.
This autumn, gallivant through Bearizona during their Howly Growly Owly Fall Festival. Next, hop on the tracks of the Grand Canyon Railway's Pumpkin Patch Train. And last but definitely not least, make your vote count when you judge the Williams scarecrow contest where the participants are local businesses.
The events at Bearizona and the Grand Canyon Railway will be occurring every Saturday and Sunday throughout the entire month of October.
"On the weekends we're giving out tattoos separate from our normal tattoos, these will be Halloween themed or with a Halloween logo, that we'll be giving out to kids," said Jocelyn Monteverde, operations manager for Bearizona. "Anyone that dresses up, adults or kids, gets a goodie bag or as we call it a 'beary' special treat. We have two haunted caves, one is a bear cave that's G rated for everybody, and then we're having a scary PG-13 haunted mine shaft that folks can go into."
According to Monteverde, visitors that enter the bear cave will be able to see juvenile bears if they're in their den. She said the bear cave is not too scary and is appropriate for kids and customers of all ages. The haunted mine shaft however will be scarier and might take a few minutes longer to go through, depending on how fast people walk it.
"The biggest draw that people love are the windowless buses that we do," Monteverde said, referring to the Howl-O-Ween Express, which travels through the entire drive through portion of the park. "They have a knowledgeable guide that drives you through, talks about the animals, and it really is the closest you can get to having the animals right there. Some animals will even be able to be fed treats right from the bus."
The Howl-O-Ween Express departs from the Fort Bearizona parking lot at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday in October. There will be four bus rides daily, each ride takes approximately 45 minutes and holds 40 people. Guests should also plan to catch an Owly Raptor Show at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., or 3 p.m. daily. Visitors can also stroll through the Bearizona Barnyard petting zoo.
Bearizona's hours of operation are 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and admission is $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 4-12. For more information contact Bearizona Wildlife Park at (928) 635-2289 or visit them online at www.bearizona.com.
The weekend activities continue throughout the month of October with the Grand Canyon Railway's Pumpkin Patch Train. Guests can pick their special pumpkin at a secret pumpkin patch only accessible by train. Ride aboard an historic rail car through the countryside where visitors can de-board the train and enjoy the fall in a festival-like atmosphere. Children, and their parents, are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes.
"The secret pumpkin patch is about eight miles north of town, it's on our regular line, and it's about an hour or so round trip," said Steve Pelligrini, Xanterra and Grand Canyon Railway spokesman. "We'll stop at the pumpkin patch for about 30-40 minutes and let people go and pick out their pumpkin. There's photo opportunities out there, we'll have some hay bales set up, and it's the second year so it'll be a little more decorative out there than it was last year."
The price of a ticket includes the pumpkin itself, as well as the train ride from the Williams Depot to the pumpkin patch and back again. The Pumpkin Patch Train will depart from the Depot at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday throughout the entire month of October. There are four cars per train and each train holds just under 400 people.
"There will also be arts and crafts at the Williams Depot in our Harvest Room. There's no carving but we do have marker pens, stickers, glitter, glue and all that kind of stuff to decorate the pumpkins," Pelligrini said. "We'll have a haunted train car at the depot, a walk through thing like a haunted house but in a train car. We're also going to have hot apple cider, caramel apples, hot chocolate, and pumpkin pie for purchase."
Ticket prices are $20 for adults and $15 for children ages 2-15. For additional information contact Grand Canyon Railway at (800) 843-8724 or visit their website at www.thetrain.com/pumpkin.
"Unfortunately we're still unable to book these tickets in advance, but there will be plenty of tickets available so no one has to worry about us being sold out," added Pelligrini. "Tickets are available the same day at the ticket counter."
Autumn lovers can also stay right here in downtown Williams and partake in a unique competition unlike any other. For the first time in the Alpine Harvest Festival there will be a scarecrow contest this year. Residents, visitors, and customers of all kinds can participate by judging the contest and casting a vote for their favorite.
"One of our members, Patty Williams, came up with the idea to do a scarecrow contest in town," said Gioia Goodrum, president and CEO of the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce. "We're going to ask any business in town, or if any business is interested that we don't get an opportunity to ask, to create a scarecrow and put it either in their business or in front of their business."
All businesses that wish to participate must submit their entry forms to the Chamber of Commerce office no later than Sept. 28. Businesses can choose to use a traditional, contemporary, original, or humorous approach when designing their scarecrow. They can be whimsical, frightening, funny, or sad.
"Residents, visitors, tourists, or anybody can get a judging form which will be at all the participating businesses and also at the Visitor Center," said Alicia Raecke, interim events coordinator at the Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce. "Whomever does the judging will then be entered into a raffle for a gift basket that we will do a drawing for at the end of October."
Goodrum said the gift baskets would contain prizes such as coupons and discounts to local businesses, railway tickets, an overnight stay in Williams, or items of similar value.
"The people who do the judging will have to go into that business and receive a sticker that verifies that they were there at that particular business. Based on however many businesses we get to participate will decide the minimum number of scarecrows each judge has to visit to properly cast a fair and balanced vote," Raecke said. "I think we'll get a lot of participation, we're hoping for at least 8-10 businesses, but we could easily have as many as 15 participating."
Businesses can sign up now until Sept. 28 to join the scarecrow contest, if they don't already have a flyer or entry form they can contact Raecke at the Chamber at (928) 635-0273. The business who wins the scarecrow contest will be featured in the Williams-Grand Canyon News and receive a certificate of recognition.
For more information on the Alpine Harvest Festival visit alpineharvestfestival.com.