Personal Finance

Kat’s Money Corner: Get the most from your buck at KC fall festivals

Shawnee Indian Mission State Historic Site held its 23rd annual Fall Festival earlier this month in Fairway.
Shawnee Indian Mission State Historic Site held its 23rd annual Fall Festival earlier this month in Fairway. KEITH MYERS/Kansas City Star

I’m not sure if it’s the sports, the weather or the beautiful scenery, but fall is my favorite time of year. I want to be outside, taking it all in as often as possible, but at some point, all this fun starts to take a toll on my savings. Here’s a list of my favorite KC fall festivals and how to get the most bang for your buck at each of them.

An Enchanted Excursion

Haunted houses, while great fun for older kids and adults, can be too overwhelming for little ones. Instead of a spooky old mansion, how about taking your kids to Lenexa’s enchanted forest?

You can also visit Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park Oct. 22 for free activities, including “performances by marionette puppets, magicians and singers along the trail around Rose’s Pond and fun photos in the photo booth.” There are displays, inflatables, characters and mini-performances, along with a free hayrack ride and pumpkin-painting station.

Up, Up & Away

On Oct. 23 and 24, plan to head to Bonner Springs, Kansas, for the Great Midwest Balloon Festival. Located at the National Agriculture Hall of Fame, this two-day festival is a remarkable sight, especially the evening “Balloon Glow,” where the pilots fire their burners and light up their balloons at the same time. There are also kid zones, a carnival (not included in the ticket price), a beer garden, a pie-eating contest and live music.

Pumpkin Fun

If the Balloon Festival isn’t your cup of tea, check out Pumpkins on Parade at Cave Spring Park Oct. 24 from 4:30 to 9 p.m. The popular hiking trails at the park are lined with hundreds of carved pumpkins, making for a truly memorable evening. There will also be games and activity stations for the kiddos.

Fresh Air & Fishing

Since Halloween is on a Saturday this year, families have some options for celebrating. Instead of keeping the kids up late for trick-or-treating, wake them up early and head to Mildale Farms in Edgerton, Kansas.

Spread across 158 acres, there’s something fun for everyone, including tractor-drawn hayrides, apple cider and cocoa stations and, of course, a pumpkin patch. Don’t miss the storytelling station at the fire pit. You can even bring your fishing pole (and registration) and try your luck at the catch-and-release pond.

Fiesta Time

If you’re looking for a change of pace and a dash of culture, check out the free Day of the Dead Festival at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on Nov. 1, spaces within the museum will transform to celebrate one of the most interesting holidays in Mexican culture, complete with art activities, live music and entertainment, and some “muy delicioso” Mexican food in the Bloch lobby.

As you can see, there’s no lack of activities to be explored in the coming weeks. Pack your picnic basket to save money and don’t forget to take lots of pictures, because the memories you’ll make as a family are priceless.

Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click or visit