Bryce Furman, 3, and his mother, Torie, of Crown Point, Ind., walk in the hay-bale maze at Taltree Arboretum and Gardens in Valparaiso, Ind., on Oct. 6, 2012. The arboretum has its Harvest Fest weekends in October. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
If you go
What: Harvest Fest
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in October
Where: Taltree Arboretum and Gardens, 450 W. County Road 100N, Valparaiso
Worth noting: Harvest Fest features hayrides, crafts, a reading corner and its haunted Railway Garden, decorated for Halloween.
More information: Visit the website www.taltree.org or call 462-0025.
Updated: November 18, 2012 6:21AM
The Railway Garden at Taltree Arboretum and Gardens in Valparaiso looked a little spooky on a recent Saturday.
A tiny vulture perched over a skeleton.
Bats hung from the trees.
Jack o’ lanterns populated one of the vignettes.
Another featured a large spider web.
Ghosts fluttered about in the breeze.
But it wasn’t too spooky, and that was fine with Jennifer Baird of Chicago, who brought her sons, Wiley, 4, and Jay, 2, to the garden.
Baird grew up across from the arboretum, and brought her sons to visit their grandparents.
“It’s fun for them to see it because when it’s small like this, it’s not that scary,” she said, adding large-scale decorations on houses can be frightening. “They know it’s toys and miniatures, and it’s not that intimidating.”
Oct. 6 kicked off the second annual Harvest Fest at the arboretum, featuring the haunted Railway Garden and assorted other activities, including the chance to vote on the best of 11 scarecrows made by local elementary schools and civic groups.
The festival continues on weekends through October.
The event also includes a hayride through the grounds.
“They’ll see all the decorations and the Children’s Garden as it’s coming together,” said Maddie, King, an AmeriCorps volunteer serving as the arboretum’s educational specialist.
Baird said her sons love the Railway Garden and always stop by when they see her parents. She liked the Harvest Fest.
“It’s nice because it gives kids a build-up to Halloween, because Halloween’s only one night,” she said.
Also enjoying the railway was Karen Stevens of St. John, who brought her son, Landon, 6, to the arboretum for the first time.
“I didn’t even know how big it is,” she said. “It is cute that they decorated it for Halloween.”