Pumpkins and hayrides may be a running theme throughout the month of October, but there are plenty of other things to do throughout southern New Jersey this weekend and beyond.
From wine festivals to lighthouse climbs, a spooky ballet and a much-anticipated marathon, here is a look at some pumpkin-picking-free - and still family friendly - events taking place over the next week.
Waterfront Wine & Food Festival
Food, local wines and live music - come enjoy an autumn afternoon along the waterfront in Mays Landing this weekend. The Mays Landing Merchants Association will present the second annual The Press of Atlantic City Waterfront Wine & Food Festival noon to 5 p.m. at Lake Lenape East on Saturday, Oct. 20, and Sunday, Oct. 21.
The two-day festival will include samples from nine local New Jersey wineries, live music, craft vendors and culinary demonstrations. Participating wineries include Amalthea Cellars, Auburn Road Vineyards, Coda Rossa, DiMatteo Vineyard, Natali Vineyards, Plagidos Winery, Renault Winery, Sharrot Winery and Wagonhouse Winery.
Lighthouses and selected museums throughout the state will host the Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey weekend on Saturday, Oct. 20, and Sunday, Oct. 21. Take the challenge, tour the state and visit each participating lighthouse over the weekend to help raise funds for continued lighthouse preservation.
Begin the challenge at any of the 11 participating New Jersey land-based lighthouses, two museums and two life-saving stations, and purchase a souvenir ($1), which will be proof of your visit at each lighthouse and commemorate your participation in the event.
Participating lighthouses include Absecon Lighthouse, Barnegat Lighthouse, Barnegat Lighthouse Historical Museum, Cape May Lighthouse, Cape May County Museum, East Point Light, Finns Point Light, Hereford Inlet Light (and Delaware Bay Lights Virtual Tour), Sandy Hook Lighthouse, Navesink/Twin Lights, Sea Girt Lighthouse, Tatham Life Saving Station 35, Tinicum Light, Tucker's Island Light at Tuckerton Seaport Museum and U.S. Life Saving Station 30.
Night climbs will be offered at Absecon, Cape May, Sandy Hook, Tinicum and Tucker's Island Light at Tuckerton Seaport. Hours of operation for each lighthouse can be found at participating lighthouse and museum websites and at www.visitnj.org www.lighthousechallengenj.org and www.njlhs.org.
During the weekend, children 11 and under climb free with an adult.
Sea Isle events
The Sea Isle City Chamber of Commerce will host their annual "Octoberfest" celebration on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Excursion Park, located at JFK Boulevard and the Promenade.
Octoberfest's family-friendly take on the German tradition of Oktoberfest runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will include free hayrides on the beach, live music by the Philadelphia German Brass Band, craft and specialty vendors, food vendors, a magic show, face painting and inflatable bounce houses. It also will feature a pie contest inside The Braca Cafe on JFK Boulevard. Pies of any type can be entered; pies from professional kitchens will not be accepted. Entries will be judged on taste, appearance and consistency. Prizes will be awarded to the bakers of the top three winning pies. Winners need not be present.
Sea Isle City's 2012 Halloween Parade will take place along Landis Avenue, from 46th Street to JFK Boulevard, starting at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19 (rain date is Sunday, Oct. 21, at noon.)
The parade will feature floats, walking participants, professional entertainers and live music performed by The Original Hobo Band, The Pennsport String Band, the Atlantic City Fire Department Pipe Band and the Philadelphia Eagles Pep Band.
Sea Isle's annual free Halloween family dance party follows the parade at the Excursion Park Band Shell, at JFK Boulevard and the Promenade.
For more information, call 609-263-0050 or go to www.seaislecitynj.us.
Sinatra Forever at Landis Theater
The Bay-Atlantic Symphony will join Las Vegas entertainer Rick Michel to perform the original arrangements of Frank Sinatra at Sinatra Forever in Symphony, part of the Appel Farm Arts & Music Center concert series at the Landis Theater in Vineland.
The show takes place 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, and features Michel, one of Las Vegas' premier singers and impersonators, who channels "Ol' Blue Eyes" through his spot-on vocals of the legendary crooner.
Tickets are $50, $60 and $80, and can be purchased at the box office, located at 830 E. Landis Avenue in Vineland, online at www.landistheater.com or by calling 856-691-1121. A select group of seats located in the mezzanine will have beverage and food service available during the show.
Fright on the Fairways
Come and find out what strange creatures come out on the fairways at night by taking a haunted hayride around the Mays Landing Golf & Country Club - if you dare.
Mays Landing Golf & Country Club will present Fright on the Fairways 6 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, through Sunday, Oct. 21.
Along with the chills and thrills, there will be food and beverages available for purchase. Admission is $10 for all ages, with proceeds supporting area schools' art programs. The fine arts departments of local high schools will be competing for the mummy award and scholarship by decorating scary sections along the haunted hayride trail. Guests will have the opportunity to vote for the scariest section.
For more information and group rates, contact Barbara Kraly at 609-641-4411, ext. 10, or go to www.mayslandinggolf.com.
The Capitol Steps and James Cotton
No election is complete without The Capitol Steps putting a little "mock" into democracy at the Stockton Performing Arts Center 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18.
The Capitol Steps began as a group of Senate staffers in 1981 that set out to satirize the very people and places that employed them. The group digs into the headlines of the day, creating song parodies and skits that convey a special brand of satirical humor.
Although not all current members of the Steps are former Capitol Hill staffers, the performers have worked in 18 Congressional offices and represent 62 years of collective House and Senate staff experience. The Capitol Steps have recorded more than 30 albums, including their latest, "Desperate Housemembers."
James Cotton, a man billed as one of the greatest living blues harmonica players, will bring his "brash boogie blues" to the Stockton Performing Arts Center 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22.
Tickets for the Capitol Steps are $30 and $45. Tickets for James Cotton are $25 and $40. Order tickets online at www.stockton.edu/pac or call 609-652-9000. The box office is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 90 minutes before the performance.
Atlantic City Ballet presents 'Dracula'
Atlantic City Ballet will once again stage its take on the popular Halloween classic "Dracula" on several stages throughout southern New Jersey this month.
The three-act ballet, which premiered in 2006, has become a repertoire staple and an audience favorite. Artistic Director Phyllis Papa choreographed the ballet, based on Bram Stoker's gothic tale of an obsessed Dracula and the object of his obsession, Mina.
The ballet will take place 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the Stockton Performing Arts Center in Pomona. Additional performances will take place Oct. 27, at the Landis Theater in Vineland, and Oct. 30, at Resorts Casino Hotel.
For tickets or information, call 609-804-1995 or go to www.acballet.org.