Culver Fall Fest Oct. 9 - 11 weekend

Anna Campbell

Culver Fall Fest, hosted by the Culver Chamber of Commerce, will kick off one week earlier than in years past, on Friday, October 9 and Saturday, October 10 with Culver Kiwanis Cyclocross on Sunday, October 11.

As the festival enters into its third consecutive year, the Culver Fall Fest committee has added and modified events to better serve locals and visitors. Many activities from previous years will continue.

The first annual pumpkin decorating contest for kids ages 2 through 12 is sponsored by Civvies on Main Street and engages young kids in fun, creative competition. The pumpkins will be on display during the festival. Judging categories are divided by age: 2-4 year old, 5 – 8 year olds and 9 – 12 year olds. Each participant will receive a ribbon, and the winners will receive a goodie bag filled with Fall fun, and have their picture featured in The Culver Citizen newspaper, with their creation.

The first annual fondue dinner, presented by The Lakehouse Grille, will take place Friday, October 9 and is already sold out as of this writing.

The Moonlight Paddle and local Native American lore, sponsored by Culver Academies and Culver Union Township Heritage, Inc., will this year feature a new route along the Lake Maxinkcukee shoreline. The paddle will begin at 7 p.m. at the Beach Lodge in Culver's Town Park. Life jackets and canoes are provided, though space is limited. Participants are welcome and encouraged to bring your own canoe or kayak should you have one. The paddlers will gather around a bonfire for a local ghost story and refreshments. To reserve a canoe, call 574-842-8080 or email

The ever-popular Haunted House, which costs $2 per person or $4 per family, takes place both Friday and Saturday evenings. Enter from the lake side of the Beach Lodge, if you dare.

Saturday morning will kick off with the Blessings in a Backpack fundraiser Fun Run/Walk. The fun and healthy event will raise funds and awareness about the Blessings in a Backpack program here in Culver, part of a national campaign aimed at ending hunger during the weekends for students in need. Going on its second year, the backpack program provides Culver Community Elementary School students with a bag of healthy foods to take home over the weekend. “Our local program serves 86 students (up from 60 last year) a week for the 2015-16 school year. The program is 100 percent voluntary and depends on financial and food contributions,” explained Tracy Fox, one of the Culver Blessings in a Backpack coordinators. Information for the fundraiser is available at or you may contact Tracy Fox via email at

Returning this year is the ever-popular scarecrow contest, which allows scarecrows to be created for a business, organization, or as an individual. Winning entries are eligible for $200 in prizes. Scarecrows are already adorning the streets of Culver.

Stevens Puppets are returning with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which will be performed at noon and 1 pm.. inside the large meeting room in Culver-Union Township Public Library. Children will have an opportunity after each show to learn about the hand carved puppets and see backstage. Stevens Puppets have been “bringing fairy tales and literature to life,” since 1933.

The Historic Walking Tour will make its debut on Saturday, October 10. Project director, Julie Hollowell, Phd, will be greeting those embarking on the tour at the lighthouse in Culver's Town Park. The Historic Walking Tour is self-guided and will be a permanent, year-round opportunity to explore Culver’s fascinating past at one's own pace. There are three routes to choose from, all starting from the lighthouse. Hollowell is looking to the community at large for feedback during the festival, which will be used in the final version of the walking tour. This project was made possible by an Historic Preservation Education Grant from Indiana Landmarks, Indiana Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Live music, food and shopping will return to Main Street. This year Café Max will host the beer and wine tent. Music will be played by DJ Tim, sponsored by The Lakehouse Grille. The chili cook-off is slated for Saturday at 1 p.m. downtown. Entries this year have been extended until Friday evening.

Saturday afternoon's Pet Parade will starting gathering in the First Farmers Bank & Trust parking lot at 1:45 p.m. The parade will start at 2 pm on the dot. Kids are welcome to bring a stuffed animal in costume if they do not have a pet to bring.

The classic Culver History Hayride will transport participants back in time along a new route, beginning at the Train Depot on Lake Shore Drive and continuing through downtown, weaving back to the depot. Tour guide and town historian Jeff Kenney will give historical background about a bygone era. Tours begin at 4:30 p.m. with the last departing at 6:30 p.m., each lasting approximately 25 minutes. The history hayride is sponsored by Culver Academies and Culver Union Township Heritage, Inc.

Culver Fall Fest has a new look with logo and graphics designed by Shelly Schrimsher of Unlocked Creativity. Each year a different component of the festival will be highlighted. The Maxinkuckee Moonlight Paddle sponsored by Culver Academies was chose as a key feature because it is unique to Culver as a lake community.

A full Culver Fall Fest event schedule is available at and the Culver Fall Fest Facebook page.