Update 10/19/11: The reporter who interviewed me for the local ABC news station also did a piece on this festival that aired last night. I provided the pictures and little video clips from the fun I had. Here is link to the online version. I loved her title: “Hundreds Gather for Creepy Camping” – LOL!
I’m back at Traverse City State Park just in time for the 6th Annual Harvest Festival this weekend! People are starting to decorate their sites and it’s fun watching. Fall is a big deal in Michigan and I’m happy to be here for this!
Oh, and according to the DNR website, one of the “treats” is a haunted bathroom – I think I’ve seen a few of those in my RVing lifetime already – at least I’ve seen a few frightful ones – LOL!
This is the first one I saw last night. The combo of Halloween lights and fun, fall tree colors and the yummy smell of pine is fantastic!
Remember PacMan? This is Pac-Pumpkin! 🙂
Here lies Mr. Buzz’ard Lips and Here Lies Mr. Crusty Head-Bread ???
I think I’ve had spiders this big in my RV before! It looks like he’s being fed…
These people went all out with the decorations!
I love their “Mothman” entrance – or that’s what these eyes reminded me of from when I ‘met’ him at Point Pleasant, WV!
Some of these guys are animated – the guy in the wagon pops out of the box, the guy driving the pumpkin turns his head back and forth – so great!
Thankfully, the weather forecast for rain and wind all weekend didn’t turn out that way. With all the big blow-up decorations, I had visions of scary things flying off and all around!
In my 10 years of fulltime RVing, I’ve never seen almost an entire park decorate and get into the spooky spirit of the season so much – I heard this year was the biggest turnout ever.
These guys are already ready for Christmas with their special spooky tree!
A way cool witch and Phantom of the Opera (which was animated and played music)
Mummy Mash Unit? A little over the top with the blood perhaps?
A couple of my neighbors seem to have had a hard time keeping their heads!
Spider webs were draped through a lot of trees – really gave the entire campground a surreal spooky feel, especially after dark mixed with the campfire smoke and lighted decorations.
And ahhh, the night was thick with the sights and smell of free french fries! 🙂
This was one of my favorite areas – these guys even had a fog-making machine to add to the effects!
The Roubal family site was way cool but they didn’t win the “Best of Show” award…
For the 4th year, this compound won that title! I have to admit, that ghoul rising from the grave (animated) really kinda creeped me out! 🙂 Steve & Barb are from Ypsilanti and come here every year with their boys, Christian and David. They won 2 free nights of camping and a citronella candle in case mosquitoes try to camp with them.
Everyone enjoyed the DNR’s haunted bathroom! When the coffin lid was raised, it also raised the deadhead! I got a kick out of the little boy watching his sister being beheaded – he was sooo unconcerned!
I didn’t envy the DNR judges their duties as they pondered the choices – so many great sites and costumes! There were different categories for ages, individuals and groups. Some of the winners are shown above: the blue guy, the Twister game girl, a witch in drag, animal control, a lunatic in straightjacket, yellow princess, kangaroo, Spy vs. Spy guy, brocolli girl, and hippie guy. I think it was the brocolli who won first prize, but people were laughing saying they thought she was a loofa pad!
But the winner of the little kids was my favorite…the little boy at the top left was a ‘S’mores’ and he was eating one – so appropriate for a campground festival! Michael Jackson and others pictured are some of my own personal favs!
Other kids that cracked me up: top left – we have an undercover cop (Sean, age 10), a psycho-surgeon (Joe, age 12), a robber (Ethan, age 6), and the little girl in the pink bathrobe and fashionable hair curlers is 7 year old Rebecca, who is a “hilbilly housewife” – LOL! Little boys as action heroes and sports stars, little girls as princesses and fairies, southern belles and gypsies – loved them all!
In the groups category, we had winners with caterpillar families, bee keepers, and Wizard of Oz (with sleepy Toto).
But my favorite was this ghostly group who drove 4 hours from the Ann Arbor area. They were a real hoot strolling through the campground with their ghooly boos! Their site was all decorated with hanging ghosts, too – such a fun group!
I really enjoyed watching the families have fun – and the guy in the orange shirt got my prize for the most honesty! I had fun talking to this guy – when I remarked that I was glad the rain had stopped in time for the festival, he replied, “You can never tell about MI weather – you just have to be prepared, but basically just ‘cowboy up’ and enjoy yourself!”
Right down the street from me was another of my favorites who took the cake in more ways than one – she was also celebrating her 50th birthday! She was dressed as Paula Dean, complete with 2 pounds of butter in a bowl, going around asking if anyone wanted some of her fried butter – loved her!
Other than when my own kids were little, I had more fun this Halloween than any other I remember watching the little kids parade around trick or treating!
They also had a pumpkin carving contest by age category:
The adult winner was this “Pumpkin Pooper” complete with toilet paper hanging from his branches – LOL!
In the 12 and under – without adult help – precious Sofia won with her little pumpkin family in a bus. Underneath are more of my adult favorites – angry bird, an amazing sculpture of Snow White, and KISS.
But my all around favorite pumpkin was this one – Pick Michigan.
I was honored to meet Keith J. Charters – Traverse City State Park was dedicated with his name on July 21 this year in appreciation for his dedication and service on the Board of Michigan’s Natural Resource Trust Fund (which facilitates buying private land for public recreational use) and for his past chairmanship of the Natural Resource Commission for 16 years. Such a gracious and generous man – I really enjoyed my chat with him and learning more about Michigan people’s commitment to their great state’s amazing natural resources.
But I have to say, everyone’s favorite site – having nothing to do with decorations or pumpkins – was the site with the “Hitch Fries.”
The line to get the free French fries offered never stopped until all 211 pounds of potatoes were fried and handed out.
They were a fabulously fun group: Tony & Melissa Romanowski (the kettle cooker in chef’s hat and his condiment, ketchup), Chris & Dawn Halleck (Samurai guy and football lady), David Bieganowski and Sue Tock (Sonny & Cher) with her daughter, Kate, the kitty cat. Not only did they feed the crowd, but the “entertainment” was fun, too. As a mostly Polish group, they’d yell “Dupa!” when a batch went from the fryers to the bowls – the “Hitch Fry Samurai” hacked at them with his sword sometimes and the “Ketchup Bottle Lady” lived up to her duties and kept the ketchup flowing. They really had it together with 3 huge kettles going all at once.
I was impressed that this group (many former Marines and law enforcement) take the initiative to do this and pay for it themselves (with some help from donations). They said they put it together and camp with a group of about 16 others to enjoy the positive atmosphere of this kind of family event. They’ve been here for 4 years now and said they used to have candy and french fries, but the candy was passed up for the fries, so now they only do fries and make more and more every year. Last year they did 115 pounds, and this year there was still a line after going through 211 pounds!
They call their week-long camping get togethers “Dupa Dome” and its only purpose is “to bring together co-workers, friends and family for a week of nothing but fun!”
Oh, and as another weird Michigan coincidence: I found out that Sue Tock (dressed as Cher) is an artist and designer who did my favorite pumpkin pictured above – Pick Michigan! Part of that project’s goal is to promote agri-tourism in Michigan and to boost the Michigan economy by purchasing Michigan-made products. She has bumper stickers, cards and clothing available with that beautiful design at Sue Tock Designs. Such a cool group – more MI people I’m so glad I met!
Happy Halloween to all!