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Halloween events are materializing throughout Topanga and the surrounding areas. The two weekends before Halloween offer a rich harvest of pumpkins, haunted houses, and mysterious labyrinths. For this year’s Halloween events focus, the Messenger Mountain News is focusing on nine family-friendly activities that offer activities for all ages.

The Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is transforming its actors into apparitions for the 2018 Boo-tanicum on October 27, from 4-10 p.m. The highlight of the theater company’s annual Halloween extravaganza fundraiser is the unique and infamous haunted house, but Halloween spirit permeates every corner of the wooded grounds, and includes ghost stories, game booths, festival food and libations, performances by Creative Playground, Peter Alsop, the comedy improv group Off the Grid. “Beware of zombie thespians,” the press release for the event warns. “Come on down…if you dare. Tickets are $10 for ages 6-17,  and $15 for adults. order online at: https://theatricum.com/shop/shows/bootanicum-18-10-27-tickets/

Topanga Elementary School invites the community to a special “enwitchment” program on Saturday, October 20, 3:30-8:30 p.m., at the Topanga Community Center’s ballfield, 1440 Topanga Canyon Blvd. The 2018 Halloween Carnival will feature a dance party with local band Kummerspeck, carnival food,  drinks for children and adults, a photo booth, games, face painting and prizes. The theme is “Dead Man’s Party,” and all participants are invited to come in costume. Tickets are $10 for adults, $25 for children. Children under 3 are free. Family passes are available for $55. Buy in advance for a $5 savings: www.topangaelementary.org/halloween-carnival.html

The City of Calabasas gets its name from the Spanish word Calabaza, meaning gourd or pumpkin, so its not surprising that Topanga’s neighbor goes all out for Halloween. The Calabasas Pumpkin Festival is an annual tradition for many local families, offering live music, food, games, and of course, pumpkins. The event takes place along Lost Hills Road and in Juan Bautista de Anza Park, on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the gate. Free admission for children under 2 and adults over 60. Ticket sales end at 4:30 p.m. each day of the festival. For more information and to order tickets, visit https://calabasaspumpkinfestival.com.

This year, parts of King Gillette Ranch have been transformed into a nighttime Halloween land. “Nights of the Jack” is a family friendly, Halloween themed show featuring thousands of jack o’ lanterns arranged along a half-mile trail in themed displays that range from traditional Halloween scenes to  movie stars, sports heroes, animated characters, and even dinosaurs. In addition to the attractions, there will also be seasonal food and beverage trucks. The event occurs at night beginning at dusk. Tickets are $25 and are sold in 30-minute intervals. Advanced ticket purchase is required. There is an additional parking fee of $5 for self parking and $10 for valet parking. The attraction is open nightly through November 4, rain or shine. For more information, or to order tickets, visit https://nightsofthejack.com

For fun a little farther away from home, try getting lost in a corn maze. Three family-owned farms offer amazing maize mazes within easy reach of Topanga residents.

Forneris Family Farms, located in Mission Hills, at 15200 Rinaldi St, and Tapia Brothers Pumpkin Patch, 5251 Hayvenhurst Ave, on the corner of Hayvenhurst and Burbank, both offer spectacular corn mazes, as well as children’s play areas, train rides, pony rides, and petting zoos, and some of the best homegrown produce in the Valley, including corn, tomatoes, and pumpkins. Fresh-picked and roasted corn is a tradition at both locations. Both festivals run through October 31.

Forneris Farm’s fall harvest activities are open on weekends 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekdays, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The last entry time for the maze is 4 p.m. http://www.fornerisfarms.com

Tapia Bros. Pumpkin Patch opens at noon on weekdays, and at 9 a.m. on weekends. Prices are a la cart, with the maze priced at $8 for ages 5 and up, and the other activities priced at $3-$6. https://www.facebook.com/TapiaBrosFarm/

Underwood Farms in Moorpark is farther afield, but it’s an ideal October family day trip destination. The harvest-themed weekend festival includes tractor-drawn wagon rides, corn stalk labyrinth, pig races, an animal show, live music and entertainment, a children’s play area, and opportunities to pick produce directly from the fields. Tickets are $20, and are available for October 20-21, and October 27-28. 3370 Sunset Valley Road, Moorpark, off the 118 freeway at Tierra Rejada Road., https://underwoodfamilyfarms.com

For a completely free evening of Halloween fun, head to the National Park Service’s  “Scare-A-Mount” Ranch in Agoura Hills, on October 27, 6-9:30 p.m. This family-friendly Halloween event will combine elements of film history and nature. Kids activities will include making fake movie blood and nocturnal animal-themed crafts. Groups can choose from two self-guided hikes into the backlot woods, one which will be family-friendly, the other for those looking for a little scare. Other activities will include a screening of the 1940 classic Dr. Cyclops, which was shot at Paramount Ranch; costume contest, face painting, selfies in the jailhouse; a spider zoo; and ranger stations throughout the ranch grounds. The free event with complimentary parking takes place from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. Flashlights and a jacket are recommended. Paramount Ranch is located at 2903 Cornell Road, in Agoura Hills. 

Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is a writer, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She’s covered environment, arts, science, history and crime for the local media for more than a decade and is the author of nine books of music for the Celtic harp. She can be reached at s.guldimann@messengermountainnews.com

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