Falling in love with fall on the Prairies

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Photo courtesy of Six Pines   Story by Tania Moffat

Fall is a beautiful time on the prairies and there is no better place to appreciate its beauty than in the great outdoors. From wildlife preserves to festive fall traditions and Halloween haunts, there is never a shortage of things to see and do during this wonderful season.

As the weather cools, the birds begin to gather. The thunderous sound made from thousands of wings beating in unison as massive flocks of geese take to the skies is an amazing spectacle to behold. Oak Hammock Marsh and Fort Whyte offer fantastic programs throughout this peak season and are great places for getting out and enjoying the beauty of the changing foliage, while trying to spot wildlife.

Fall on the prairies also means fall suppers. Just about every small town within Manitoba’s borders, as well as various churches and communities in Winnipeg, take part in this tasty tradition. They are a celebration of the harvest and a time for communities to gather together and socialize. The tradition dates back over a century and was originally called a “fowl supper.” As summer draws to a close, communities look forward to getting together to host and enjoy these events. If you have a hankering for a good home cooked meal, at a ridiculously reasonable price, grab your Pepto, throw on a pair of your loosest pants and bring a healthy appetite. You can’t beat great food and good people; we are “friendly Manitoba” after all, so fill up on as many fall suppers as you can. For a listing of fall suppers visit http://www.travelmanitoba.com or stop by their office for a printout.

The scent of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove wafting through a toasty kitchen is sure to mean one thing this time of year…pumpkin pie! No one in Manitoba can make it through the fall without a pumpkin, squash or gourd. Not only are there a ton of varieties to choose from, they are great for decorating, cooking, baking, eating, sharing and of course, making jack-o’-lanterns. If you don’t grow them go out and pick your own. No, not from the massive cardboard bin at the front of the grocery store. Parcel your pumpkin or gourd picking with some good old-fashioned fun and Halloween frights.

Visit the Shelmerdine Garden Center pumpkin patch, it is hands down the best place to pick out your fall decor. Ghostly white pumpkins, miniature ornamental gourds, sugar pumpkins for pies, gnarly wart-covered pumpkins and giant ones perfect for carving are all on display for the picking. Fall mums resplendent with fall colours are perfect for gifts and decoration. If you have children between three and 10 years of age visit the Halloween Fun Zone. This is a fantastic indoor activity for little ones complete with zip lines, a hay maze, bouncy castle, colouring and face-painting. All this can be enjoyed for a $5 donation per child to the Boys and Girls Club of Winnipeg. The fun zone is open Monday to Saturday from Oct. 11 until Halloween.

Halloween frights and screaming good fun can be found north of the city at Six Pines. An attraction of a more ominous nature, it is a must for anyone who loves Halloween or just being scared silly. By day the entire family is welcome. There are hayrides, mother goose and her farm animals to visit with, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, magic shows, a tree fort and a ton of fun other fun activities for the kids. As the sun sets, the old Victorian farmstead transforms into a horrifying experience with a real ghost story. The Farm’s Barn of Doom is the place to see for heart-stopping fun. Legend claims that the barn, rebuilt in 1911 after brutal murders occurred there in 1901, is still haunted by the tortured souls. Bet you get scared!

Go outside, breathe in the crisp fall air, and celebrate this stunning season in our beautiful province.