Here’s What You Can’t Miss This Fall in Livingston County

It’s been a memorable summer in Pure Michigan, but it’s nearly time to turn our attention to fall! Between the changing colors, cider mills and fall festivals, there’s so much to plan for to fully enjoy the autumn season in the Great Lakes state.

The best way to plan for fall is to plan early, so read more on a handful of can’t-miss fall festivities and locations in Livingston County to visit and explore during the coming season.

Kensington Metropark offers unique events and happenings all year long

Photo Courtesy of the Livingston County Convention and Visitors Bureau

1. Cider Mills, Parks and U-Pick Farms

Parshallville Historic Cider Mill

What’s the telltale sign of autumn in Pure Michigan? Taking that first sip of fresh, sweet and crisp cider. While you visit this iconic mill, take home a (strictly from scratch) Dutch Apple Pie and munch on a toasty donut rolled in cinnamon sugar. A variety of heirloom apples, apple cinnamon bread, apple butter, caramel apples and more make this tasty stop “Apple Central”.

Spicer Orchards Harvest Festival
Fenton, Sept. 17-18

Spicer commemorates farm life of early settlers with antique tractor and machinery, corn grinding demonstration and old fashioned kids play area. Here you’ll find a daytime corn maze, train rides, arts and crafts fair and home-style BBQ meaning you will leave full and happy. In addition to the festival, Spicer offers a variety of u-pick fruits and vegetables and free wine tastings for the adults.

Spicer's Cider Mill is a favorite among locals and visitors alike

Spicer Orchards is an ideal destination for picking that perfect pumpkin (and other fruits and vegetables!)

Kensington Metropark

Kensington Metropark is an ideal destination if you enjoy being surrounded by colorful forest vistas and native wildlife. And nothing says fall tradition like a horse drawn wagon ride to a U-pick pumpkin patch. Plan to allow time to explore the 150 year old restored barn farm exhibit, poultry house and pet the animals at the Farm Center.

2. Fall Colors and Autumn Festivals

There are many fall events tailored for every age in Livingston County

Photo Courtesy of the Livingston County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Mayhew’s Tree Farm Fall Festivities
Fowlerville, Oct. 1- 31

These fun autumn days are designed with small children in mind! Hop aboard the covered wagon hayride through Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and the Ghost Town of Tombstone to the U-Pick pumpkin patch. Find the magic pumpkin in the Evergreen Maze and win a prize. Kids love to pet the farm animals and relish the apple cider and donuts. October 1 – 31, Monday thru Saturday 10-7pm Sunday, 11-5pm.

Tour de Livingston
Howell, Oct. 9

Get your bike ready – the Tour de Livingston will be here before you know it! This scenic ride provides cyclists with a perfect panoramic view of early fall colors as they journey through the breathtaking countryside of Livingston County. The tour features the exclusive opportunity to cruise your bicycle on the GM Proving Grounds and includes hospitality tents, a full breakfast, snacks, and a hearty meal prepared by the chef at Mt. Brighton when the ride is over. Choose between 5 & 10 mile family rides or 29, 38, 62 metric century or a century route.

3. Spooky and Haunted Attractions

Hell-O-Hollow Weekends 
Hell, Sept. 17 – Oct. 31

The thrills are in Hell, where Halloween is celebrated all year long! Take the Grave Digger Sundae Challenge and win the official death certificate, if you survive. Dip scary named toppings like bat droppings, toenails, worms and ectoplasm out of the authentic Coffin Bar.

The Legend of Sleepy Howell and Haunted Howell Ghost Tours
Howell, Oct. 22nd

The Legend of Sleepy Howell is a humongous Halloween costume party for the whole family! Historic downtown Howell is transformed into a magical site for trick or treat, live music, hayrides, costume contests, games and prizes. Don’t forget about the Headless Horseman 5K/10K race while you’re there! The ghost tours are guided by Medium Dianna O’Grady who shares her personal insights and experiences at several historic sites rumored to be haunted. Tour guests are encouraged to arrive in advance to visit Howell’s Main Street Winery, sample some wine and ask about the many “encounters” staff and visitors have shared. Tours by appointment all season long.

The Terrorfied Forest is not for the faint of heart

Photo Courtesy of

The Terrorfied Forest & Terrified Manor
Pinckney, Sept. 16 – Oct. 31

The Terrorfied Forest & Terrorfied Manor are not recommended for the faint of heart. Traversing the dark pathways of the forest will unearth the terrors lurking in the depths of the forest. And if you dare, prepare to have your blood run cold as you experience a different thrill in every room of the haunted manor. Not recommended for children as these frights are sure to leave even the bravest adults trembling.

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting Livingston County? Share with us by commenting below and like the Livingston County Convention and Visitors Bureau Facebook page to stay up to date on upcoming events!

High Flying Fun at The Michigan Challenge Balloonfest

The Michigan Challenge Balloonfest returns to Howell on June 22-24, 2012 with high-flying fun. Today, Michael Helms, Crew Chief for Ron Centers and the PNC Hot Air Balloon at the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest, discusses his role within this exciting event. To learn more, visit

I am the “Crew Chief” for the PNC Hot Air Balloon. PNC Bank is the major sponsor again for this, the 22nd year of the event. As crew chief, it is my responsibility to assist the captain, Ron Centers, in getting the PNC balloon ready for the event. This involves making certain all equipment is ready for inflation for as many as six times during the event, including for special media presentations and flights. The 2012 event will feature 44 balloons from across Michigan and the United States. It will be a magnificent sight to see 44 balloons brought out onto the field at Howell Public Schools to prepare for a launch.

There are several phases to a balloon flight.  After a briefing on weather conditions, the balloon inflation process is the first phase. It involves laying out the balloon – or “envelope” – on the launch field and attaching it to the basket and burners. In the next step, a large fan, with an airplane propeller-like blade is used to fill the envelope with cold air.  As soon as the envelope is sufficiently full, the pilot (who must be licensed just as a fixed wing pilot) will light the burners and heat the air inside the envelope. Since hot air rises, as soon as the air inside is heated, the balloon will stand tall.

The pilot will continue to put heat into the envelope until he is ready for passengers or crew to climb into the basket. When the air has been heated to the necessary temperature, the balloon will begin to rise, the crew chief will give the “all clear,” and the balloon will rise into the sky to be carried gently aloft by friendly breezes.  The crew chief and crew will then pack up the fan and launch tether and follow the balloon.

The Michigan Challenge Balloonfest is a balloon competition with several types of events during the weekend for the balloon competitors. One type of event finds the balloonists flying off downwind to attempt to locate a predetermined target where – if close enough – the pilot will fling a bean bag with his pilot/balloon number nearest the center of a large “X” placed on the ground. There may be one or two other like targets downwind of the first as well. Points are gained by being as close to each target as possible.

Another event is similar but often takes place on morning flights where pilots will try to find a location off-site, a minimum distance away, and try to fly in toward the school grounds where an “X” is again located for a bean bag drop and points. Another target will again be downwind after pilots fly away from the school.

Finally, an event called “Hare and Hound” may be scheduled whereby a lone balloonist will fly away from the school, ahead of all the others, and lay down a target at his or her choice for all other balloonists to attempt to hit with their bean bags.

When the pilot is ready to land, he will notify his crew chief of his intent. It is the responsibility of the crew to be at the intended landing site (almost always unknown until found at the last minute) and request the landowners permission for the pilot to land, and for the crew to deflate the balloon and pack up for the return trip to the launch site.

On evenings at the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest, we will take the PNC Hot Air Balloon back to the school at dusk where we, and many of the other pilots will reinflate their balloons for what is know as the “Balloon Glow”, a spectacular display of what appear to be huge balloon “luminaria”. The huge balloon envelopes are inflated again and lighted inside from the glow of the balloon burners – an amazing and colorful display to see. 

The Michigan Challenge Balloonfest is our favorite event of the year, and Pilot Ron Centers and I look forward to coming to Howell - by far one of the friendliest cities we visit each year.

Michael Helms has been Crew Chief for Ron Centers and the PNC Hot Air Balloon at the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest for the past 7 years. He loves the freedom that comes with flying balloons and truly enjoys the hospitality of Howell each summer.