Let the bugling begin as Estes Park hosts Elk Fest on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. As usual, the festival coincides with the annual autumn elk rut, providing the natural sight and sound spectacle created during the big game’s mating season in and around Rocky Mountain National Park. While the park requires an entrance fee or a National Parks Pass, the Elk Fest is free from 10 a.m. to about 5 p.m. each day. The festival features bugling contests, elk exhibits, elk-inspired arts and crafts, as well as Native American music, dancing and storytelling with Danny Many Horses. Popular Colorado bands will play country, rock and bluegrass music. Also, enjoy lots of food and beverages at the food trucks on-site. visitestespark.com
Wendy’s Boo! Books
This annual offer from Wendy’s will leave trick-or-treaters “in the cold,” but in the sweetest way possible. The burger chain’s popular Halloween Boo! Books are available through Oct. 31. For $1, get a Boo! Book with five coupons — each good for a free Jr. Frosty. This year, Wendy’s has added a sixth bonus coupon good for $1.99 Kids’ Meal with any purchase. The books can be purchased in-restaurant, as well as via the Wendy’s app or self-order kiosks from the “Give Something Back” category. wendys.com
Children’s Festival of Stories
Create a fun weekend story for the family. More than 20 children’s book authors, illustrators and performers will be on hand at Denver’s Children’s Festival of Stories on Oct. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the McNichols Building (144 W. Colfax Ave.) The free, family-friendly event features creators of board books, picture books, chapter books and middle-grade novels. Throughout the day, attendees can enjoy story times, readings, illustration demonstrations and book signings. The first 400 kids under age 12 receive a free book. denvercfos.com
Northfield’s Candy Crawl
While it may not be quite Halloween, families can enjoy an early fall treat on Oct. 8. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Northfield Hosts its free Candy Crawl on Main Street. Enjoy trick-or-treating, hayrides, crafts, thriller dancers, giveaways, contests and more. Costumes are encouraged. Plus, take pictures with the amazing Ghostbuster and Morningside Hearses and experience The Curiosity Cruiser, the “Museum on Wheels” from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Candy will be distributed from participating retailers (while supplies last) – just look for the orange balloons. shopsatnorthfield.com
McGregor Square’s Halloween Events
Immerse yourself in a classic summer camp slasher at Camp Shiver Creek, McGregor Square’s new pop-up Halloween experience. Throughout the second half of October, sip on themed cocktails and enjoy Halloween-themed events, including movie trivia, a dog costume party and horror film nights. Put your movie knowledge to the test at Harry Potter trivia on Oct. 17 and Hocus Pocus trivia on Oct. 24. Horror movie fans can enjoy “Friday the 13th” on Oct. 18 and “Halloween” on Oct. 25. Not to leave out furry friends, there will be a Howl-O-Ween Dog Costume Party on Oct. 23. All events are free and start at 6 p.m. Find a full schedule, visit mcgregorsquare.com/events.
Here’s a haunted attraction that won’t scare your budget. Cottoncreek Manor (9971 Cottoncreek Drive) in Highlands Ranch is a residential home haunt with a full graveyard in the front and a 2,000-square-foot walk-through haunted house in the backyard. This year’s theme is Fear Factor. The outdoor haunt is open every Friday and Saturday Oct. 13-28, from 7 to 9 p.m. each day. (There are kid-friendly walk-throughs with no character interaction from 6 to 7 p.m.) While admission is free, donations are welcome. All proceeds benefit the nonprofit Spirit for the Seasons. For crowd control, advance tickets are required. facebook.com/CottoncreekManor
Loveland Scarecrow Scavenger Hunt
Scare up a fun adventure and head to Loveland for the city’s new Scarecrow Scavenger Hunt. Scarecrows are waiting across the city — from downtown and Centerra to all places in between. Each has been designed by a local artist and business to show off Loveland’s thriving art community. The hunt runs from Oct. 13 to 31 and is free to participate in. Organizers say that the hunt can be completed in a few hours. However, you can play over multiple days. Grab your map and camera, find the scarecrows and pose with them. Then, submit your photos via social media or upload them through an online form (or by e-mail for the technically challenged.) Participants who submit all of the scarecrows will be entered to win prizes. For more details, visit visitlovelandco.org/scarecrow
Jeffco Used Book Sale
It’s an ocean of savings at one of the largest book and media sales in Colorado, sponsored by the Jefferson County Library Foundation. The Fall Whale of a Used Book Sale runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 20 and 21 and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 22. Held in the massive exhibit hall of the Jefferson County Fairgrounds (15200 W. Sixth Ave.) in Golden, the sale boasts thousands of gently used books from all genres, plus DVDs, CDs, LPs, puzzles and games. Prices range from 50 cents to $3 on most items. Sunday is “Bag Day,” when $10 buys you as many items as will fit into a grocery-size bag. Admission is $5 per person, with those under 18 admitted for free. jeffclf.org
Families are in for a real treat at Treat Street. The sweet event takes place on Oct. 21 and 22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at the Arapahoe County “Scaregrounds” (25690 E. Quincy Ave.) in Aurora. Enjoy lots of spooktacular family fun, including a petting farm, live entertainment and costume contests. Highlights include inflatables, face painting, hayrides, pumpkin painting and Hallo-weenie races for dressed-up dachshunds. Of course, there will be trick-or-treating booths from more than 20 local businesses and partners. Adults can enjoy some “boos” at the beer garden and food trucks will be parked onsite. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for kids (ages 3 to 12); children 2 and under are free. However, show up in costume for a scary good discount — $5 for adults and free for children. arapahoecountyeventcenter.com
Castle Rock Spooktacular 2023
Castle Rock will celebrate all things not-so-spooky at Spooktacular 2023 on Oct. 21 at Philip S. Miller Park (1375 W. Plum Creek Parkway). Family-friendly costumes are encouraged. Activities include games, prizes, food and, of course, lots of candy. To ensure everyone has a good time, the event is divided into the following times: 1 to 2 p.m. for sensory-friendly activities, 2 to 3 p.m. for last names starting with A to L; and 3 to 4 p.m. for M to Z. Admission is free. The event is held outdoors, so be sure to dress accordingly. crgov.com/2453/Spooktacular
Free COVID-19 tests
As the surge of COVID-19 increases again this fall/winter, it’s increasingly important to get tested, especially if you’re experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to someone who’s tested positive. This fall, U.S. households are eligible for free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free. No credit card or health insurance is necessary. Each order includes four individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests. To get the kits, go to COVID.gov/tests and enter your name and address. You can also order by calling 800-232-0233. Limit one order per household. COVID.gov/tests
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