The Yakima Valley is getting ready for an eventful fall, with everything from a barbecue championship to a balloon rally. This is just a taste of what’s happening starting in September – for full event information, and a calendar of events, visit www.visityakima.com
Hosted by Tree Top, this open competition invites aspiring grill masters from the West and Canada to compete for up to $25,000 in prize money. Those who are not participating will enjoy cooking demonstrations, live music, beer and wine garden, and much more. Hours for the event are 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $10 for two days; children 12 and under are free. All events are located at Tree Top, 220 E 2nd Ave., Selah. For more information, please visit www.skeweredapple.com.
Fall Festival at Bill’s Berry Farm, Saturday, September 21 and 28; Fridays & Saturdays in October
Bring the family out to the farm for free fall fun between 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Berry Park and Fall Park. All ages will enjoy a hay ride to the orchard to pick crisp apples right off the tree or visit the pumpkin patch and pick your own pumpkin. Squeeze your own apple cider on our presses or purchase it already pressed. Relish the beautiful fall days with a family picnic and live music, and laugh with the children as they ride the Barnyard Train and get lost in the Barnyard Mystery Corn Maze. Apples, pumpkins, fall decor and fresh veggies available by the pound and the box. For information and a map to the farm, located at 3674 N. County Line Rd. in Grandview, visit www.billsberryfarm.com.
More than 35 hot air balloons will brighten the Yakima Valley sky; some lucky spectators might even be asked to assist the pilots. The weekend-long event features Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Launches from the Prosser Washington Airport, a Harvest Festival, a Farmers market and a Street Painting Festival. Visitors can also enjoy Night Glow on Saturday at dusk at Fiker Stadium, gates open at 5:30 p.m. During Night Glow, hot air balloons will be anchored and illuminated from within against the beautiful starry sky creating a breathtaking scene. Balloon Rally memorabilia will also be on sale throughout the weekend including Rally Caps, T-shirts, Night Glow Sweatshirts, and more. Admission and parking are free. For more information, visitwww.prosserballoonrally.org or call (509) 786-3177.
Annual Apple Valley Kiwanis Wine Country Trek Saturday, September 28 – Sunday, September 29
A scenic two-day, 120-mile bike ride, round-trip from Yakima to Prosser, through vineyards, hop fields and orchards. Start time from Yakima on Saturday is 8:00 a.m. returning Sunday at 6 p.m. Registration is $135 per cyclist with all proceeds going to Kiwanis community and youth service projects. This event coincides with the Hot Air Balloon Festival and the Harvest Festival in Prosser. Registration includes our famous gourmet dinner, the balloon glow, overnight camping (indoor and outdoor) in Prosser, Sunday morning breakfast, baggage transportation and break stops. For information, visit www.kiwaniswinecountrytrek.com or call 509-786-8973.
Celebrate the Yakima Valley hop crop – which contributes 77 percent of the total U.S. hop crop – with fans of fine craft beer in downtown Yakima for the Eleventh Annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival. Ale Festival goers can enjoy selections from numerous participating breweries in addition to brewing demonstrations, a cigar tent, food from local restaurants, live music and street dancing. The Festival begins at 5 p.m. and will continue until 10 p.m. Ticket prices are $30 if purchased in advance and $35 at the gate. All proceeds benefit Allied Arts of Yakima Valley which coordinates art programs, classes and events for the community. Pre-sale ($30) tickets are on sale at local businesses around the Yakima Valley during regular business hours through noon on Friday October 4. Plenty of tickets will also be available for $35 at the gate. Ticket price includes a commemorative beer glass and $6 scrip (used instead of cash for beer and wine, but note that food is cash only and that the event is 21+ only. ID is required for entry. For more information, visit www.freshhopalefestival.com or call (509) 966-0930.
Pirate Plunder Adventure Race, Saturday, October 5
The 2013 year marks the second installment of the Pirate Plunder Adventure Race which is a 4+ mile obstacle course race that combines ever-changing terrain with 16 obstacles to test your strength, stamina, and love of mud. You’ll climb over walls up to 14’ high, crawl through a 40’ long mud pit, slide down a 30’ water slide, battle through tires, and face many other challenges all while running through a combination of fields, mud, and sand pits! Once completed, participants are greeted with a cold beverage, live music, and great food! This race is a great way to get you, your friends, and family away from the TV, off the couch, and covered in mud, so come on out and see if you’re worthy of the name “Pirate” or are you just another “Scallywag” in line to “Walk the Plank”! www.pirateplunderrace.com.
Airfield Estates Vineyard Run and Grape Stomp, October 11-12
This Vineyard 5k run travels through Airfield’s estate vineyard in Sunnyside. Dogs and families are welcome and the run is followed by a celebration of harvest at Airfield Estates Winery in Prosser with a grape stomp event. To register online visit www.airfieldwines.com or call 509-786-7401 for more information.
Thanksgiving in Wine Country at Steppe Cellars, Friday, November 29 and Saturday, November 30
Give thanks for Washington wine country and the fruits of the Yakima Valley this Thanksgiving. Experience a variety of specialty food and wine parings, library tastings, and tours not available to the public. For more information www.wineyakimavalley.org or call (509) 965-5201.
Begin the family’s Christmas preparations with a trip to the farm for a fresh cut Christmas tree. Bill’s Berry Farm is decked in hundreds of fresh cut trees, handmade wreaths and garland, and twinkling Christmas lights. Place an order for a custom wreath or length of garland and have it made on-site. Enjoy a caroling hayride around the farm for a donation to a local charity, pet Gus and Gertie the goats, sip a cup of hot cocoa or hot cider by the bonfire, and try a delicious vanilla sugar donut. For more information call 509-882-3200 or visit www.billsberryfarm.com.
Lighted Farm Implement Parade, Saturday, December 7
Enjoy the Northwest’s 25 year-old lighted parade in beautiful Sunnyside. Named one of A&E Television Networks’ ‘Top 10’ lighted Christmas Parades in the America, the Lighted Farm Implement Parade features dazzling displays of more than 50 farm implements, vehicles, and floats covered with decorative lights. The Parade pays tribute to the agricultural heritage of the area with themed displays featuring scenes from the heartland of the Northwest. The parade starts at 6 p.m. in downtown Sunnyside. For more information, call (509) 837-5939 or visitwww.sunnysidechamber.com.