Spirit of the Harvest Children’s Festival at Rancho Los Alamitos Not Just For Kids

A few weekends ago (C’s birthday, actually!), our family enjoyed a wonderful day out at Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach (CA). We try to visit the Rancho about once or twice a year, and I’ve written about it before because it’s one of our family’s favorites for a quick and easy get-out-of-the-house-for-an-hour-or-two type destination (and it’s just a few minutes’ drive away from the house also). This time, however, there was a special seasonal event going on that we wanted to check out after hearing about it from friends as being a can’t-miss. I am glad we harvested that information and that C was agreeable to make it a part of his birthday plans.

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Visitors line up for the free shuttle at CSULB (where they also parked for free!) that ran back and forth between Rancho Los Alamitos for its annual Spirit of the Harvest Children's Festival.

Visitors lined up for the free shuttle at CSULB (where we also parked for free!) that ran back and forth between Rancho Los Alamitos for its annual Spirit of the Harvest Children’s Festival. This is the norm for the Rancho’s special events; otherwise parking is always free and available on-site during regular operational hours.

The Spirit of the Harvest Children’s Festival is a one-day annual event that usually occurs on the last Sunday of October. Guests are invited up to the Rancho to enjoy a free afternoon filled with traditional cultural demonstrations, hands-on crafts, and other activities and performances.Β  Though its name suggests it’s a festival for the kids, really it’s a wonderful community event that’s fun for all-ages.

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Working dogs churned butter at the Spirit of the Harvest Festival at Rancho Los Alamitos.

Working dogs churned butter at the Spirit of the Harvest Festival at Rancho Los Alamitos.

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Upon our arrival, we were greeted by this Ranchero giving a roping demonstration. Right away, I knew T was going to dig this festival. What kid can resist watching a cowboy twirling a rope?! Not my kid anyway! We also got to watch a dog churn butter. Now where else can you go and see something like that, RMT’ers?

T ponies up for a ride around the hobby horse track at the Harvest Festival at Rancho Los Alamitos.

T ponies up for a ride around the hobby-horse track at the Harvest Festival at Rancho Los Alamitos.

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Rope 'em T!

A Local Boy Scout showed T how to rope a steer at the Spirit of the Harvest Festival at Rancho Los Alamitos.

C helped T rope his hay cattle.

C got in on the roping fun at Rancho Los Alamitos.

No matter how much T tried, he kept roping his cattle in the rear! Oh wels!

No matter how much T tried, he kept roping his cattle in the rear! Oh wels!

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Mini-golf, Harvest-style!

Mini-golf, Harvest-style!

There were also many games for the kids to play, including some centered around the Rancho lifestyle. T and C particularly enjoyed the horse-roping game, but T also liked the other more traditional carnival-style games with a seasonal twist. Also, volunteers helped visitors experience how Rancheros worked with simple machines “back in the day.” Though those were more hands-on stations to show actual Rancho jobs and chores, the kids all thought it was part of the games area because it was so fun to sit on the “see-saw” (lever-fulcrum) and in the box with the wheels (inclined plane) and have other kids or their parents give them rides.

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It's not just a see-saw, T, but it's fun, isn't it?

It’s not just a see-saw, T, but it’s fun, isn’t it?

Fun with pulleys!

Fun with pulleys!

BAND NAME at Spirit of the Harvest Festival at Rancho Los Alamitos.

The California Cowboy Band played three sets at the Spirit of the Harvest Festival at Rancho Los Alamitos last month. They were fantastic!

As the afternoon went on, we found a seat at the main stage and enjoyed some live country music and another roping demonstration. This also was where many others settled down with some seasonal fare from the nearby food stands (we’d already eaten, but some of the grub looked and smelled delicious!).

Look what we found in this secret garden during Rancho Los Alamitos' Spirit of the Harvest Festival!

Look what we found in this secret garden during Rancho Los Alamitos’ Spirit of the Harvest Festival!

Great find, T! Yum!

Great find, T! Yum!

T also found some folks who were spinning up and passing out free cotton candy to the crowd. Yes, I said free cotton candy. Again, this wasn’t anything that T was about to pass up, nor would we let him since we’re usually paying a nice chunk of change for a twirl of cotton candy. To the parents who wouldn’t let their kids partake: What were you thinking?! I hope you enjoyed it, T, because that was definitely a bountiful harvest in itself right there and exactly what these special events are all about.

Trees, glorious trees!

Trees, glorious trees!

I could watch T play on these trees at Rancho Los Alamitos all afternoon. It's free entertainment in itself, and it's free year-round!

I could watch T play on these trees at Rancho Los Alamitos all afternoon. It’s free entertainment in itself, and it’s free year-round!

A boy and a tree. Perfect!

Kids and a tree, AKA the perfect Sunday afternoon!

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Of course, no visit to the Rancho is complete without letting the kids climb in, on, and around the awesomely large and beautiful trees in the acres of gardens. Anyone who’s visited the Rancho with kids before knows these trees are a source of entertainment on an average day, so multiply that by 10 given the number of extra visitors here on this special afternoon.

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Anytime of the year is a great time to go and see what’s up at Rancho Los Alamitos.

I am sorry I didn’t know about this event sooner to tell you about it before our visit, RMT’ers, but now that you do know about it, mark your calendars next year for this fall-tastic, free, family event. Until then, be sure to harvest and savor these last moments of the autumnal season however, whenever, and where ever you can. Just like the leaves, they’re disappearing fast.

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You might have missed out on the fall events up at Rancho Los Alamitos this season, but coming soon is one of their most popular events of the year: Holiday Hoedown & Breakfast with Santa! But that’s not all… you can find information on other special December holiday events here. To visit the Rancho during their regular hours of operation (Wednesday-through-Sunday 1 p.m.-through-5 p.m.), you can plan your visit here. In addition to being closed to the public during special events and other private parties, please also note the Rancho will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday (Thurs. Nov. 28-Fri. Nov. 29, 2013) and again Monday Dec. 22, 2013-through-Tues. Jan. 14, 2014 for Winter Break.