Labor Day weekend may be the last holiday weekend of summer, but campground operators across Texas are doing their best to entice families back to their parks for another couple of months with barbecue and chili cooking competitions, and pre-Halloween-themed events.
“Campground operators increasingly see themselves as being in the entertainment business, and they know that if they provide enough activities and entertainment, people will keep coming back no matter what time of year it is,” Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO), stated in a news release.
Here’s a sampling of some of the special events Texas parks are promoting this fall:
- North Texas Jellystone Park Camp-Resort: This park’s September lineup includes a backwards themed weekend Sept. 7-9, when guests are invited to dress backwards, inside out and upside down. Weekend activities will include a backwards dress up contest as well as backwards races and games. Sept. 28-30 will be a Wild West-themed weekend with performances by a trick roping team as well as the Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association. After that, every weekend in October will include magic pumpkin patch activities, costume contests, a barrel train, haunted “hey, hey, hey” rides as well as “Scaryoke Karaoke” activities. Other onsite activities include arts and crafts, movies and story times with Yogi. Friday activities will include trick or treating in the park and a campfire with s’mores and a “hey, hey, hey” ride to a haunted hill to see a scary movie. The campground is next door to Pirate’s Cove waterpark.
- Hill Country Jellystone in Canyon Lake: This park’s fall activities include fall festival weekends on Oct. 5-7, Oct. 19-20 and Oct. 26-28. These weekends will include a non-scary costume contest and a magic pumpkin patch, trick or treating and a campsite decorating contest. Other activities include arts and crafts, movies, laser tag, gem mining and story times with Yogi.
- Lone Star Yogi in Waller: This park’s fall activities include “Trail of Terror” weekends every weekend in October with Halloween music and dancing, movies, crafts, a magic pumpkin patch, a not-so-scary hey rides, ceramic painting, tye-dye T-shirt making, campsite and cabin decorating contests and trick or treating.
- Rayford Crossing in The Woodlands: This park has several activities planned for this fall, including its annual chili cook-off on the last weekend of October, which also coincides with the park’s Halloween themed events.
- Rusk KOA in Rusk: This park’s activities include a Sept. 15 barbecue school presented by Jeff Wyatt, who is described on the park’s website as a “redneck cooker” and “barbecue champion.”
- Traders Village Grand Prairie RV Park: This park, which adjoins the Traders Village open air marketplace in Grand Prairie, provides a convenient location for those wishing to participate in a variety of upcoming events at the marketplace, including the 29th Annual International Bar-B-Que Cookers Association Cookoff on Oct. 13-14. This is one of the largest BBQ events in Texas and this year’s event is expected to be even larger with over 100 cookers preparing over 600 judging samples in two days of competition. Other upcoming activities include a “haunted hallway” Oct. 28 and the Annual Mountain Man Weekend Gathering Nov. 10th-11th, which provides a window into the past through songs, storytelling and historical reenactments. Mountain Man demonstrations will include beading, tomahawk and knife throwing, firestarting, blacksmithing, and soap making.
- Traders Village Houston RV Park: This park, which adjoins the Traders Village open air marketplace in Houston, is ideally located for families wishing to participate in upcoming events at the marketplace, including its 6th Annual Fiestas Patrias on Sept. 16, which celebrates Mexico’s independence from Spain. The event will include a free concert by Grammy award winning Tejano artists Sunny Ozuna and the Sunliner band. On Oct. 28, Traders Village will have its annual Halloween Boo Bash for Kids in which children 12 and under can trick-or-treat for thousands of pieces of candy at participating shops throughout the market, while supplies last. Every child attending will receive a Halloween gift and trick-or-treat bag while supplies last. Other fall events include a Native American Championship Pow Wow Nov. 10th-11th, with colorful tribal dance contests, an arts and craft show, tipis and singing by dozens of tribes from across the United States. Native American foods, including fry bread and Indian tacos, will also be served. The Annual Houston Championship Chili Cook off will also take place at this Traders Village location on Nov. 17.
- The Vineyards Campground and Cabins in Grapevine: This park’s fall events include the Grapeyard, a Halloween themed event on the last weekend of October with face painting, laser tag, story tellers, cider and food vendors, Halloween movies and two haunted trails, one for young children and another for teens and adults. “We’ve already had people calling about. This will be our second year doing it,” said Joe Moore, the park’s general manager.
- Whispering Pines RV & Cabin Resort in Tyler: This park has several special events planned for this fall, including Halloween themed weekends Oct. 26-27 and Nov. 2-3. Weekend activities will include contests for best decorated campsite, best carved pumpkin and best costume as well as opportunities to make candied apples and caramel apples.