By Rachel Kubik, OnMilwaukee contributor   Published Sep 29, 2018 at 8:01 PM

Celebrating its 25th year, the Harvest Fair is back. This year’s free event, held at Wisconsin State Fair Park, is all weekend long and has fall favorites such as pumpkin picking, a hay play area, free live entertainment, and scarecrow making.

Lots of fall food is available as well as some state fair favorites such as cheese curds and fried cookie dough on a stick. Shopping at the Farmers Market and family comedy shows are some other activities to explore, and don’t miss cookie decorating or the Maker Faire Milwaukee Activities, featuring a game of fire, heavy meta dragon, power wheels racing, underwater drones and more.

The Fair is open on Friday from 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Here are the top ten reasons why you should head over to the festival this year.

1. Food

Lots of local food from a multitude of vendors is available this weekend, as well as some state fair favorites such as corn on the cob. Find salsa, dressing, kettle corn, produce, harvest stew, candy, caramel apples, bakery items and lots more. And don’t forget to try some of the many beer and other alcohol options.

2. Photo opportunities

Who doesn’t love a good, fall-themed Instagram post? The Harvest fair is decorated all over the park with scarecrows, corn stalks and hay, perfect for snapping a photo for social media or just to keep on your phone to look back at later and reminisce. There’s even a designated area near 3rd Street and Central Avenue – "Say Pumpkin and Smile" – meant for taking pictures with pumpkins and scarecrows.

3. Harvest shopping

Find your ideal yard decor, clothing, handbags, hair accessories, trinkets and more at all of the various vendor booths. Support some local businesses and find items you wouldn’t normally at a store.

4. Camel and pony rides

Don’t have time to take a spontaneous trip to Egypt? Harvest Fair has you covered. While this is mainly an attraction for kids, anyone can ride a camel (or pony) and achieve the bragging rights that go along with it.

5. Pumpkin bowling

Another activity mainly for kids, but still fun for anyone nonetheless: pumpkin bowling. Because of the odd shape of the pumpkin, bowling with pumpkins is harder than it sounds. You never know which way the darn little thing is going to roll and how many pins you can actually knock down. Are you up for the challenge?

6. Amusement park rides

Get your last taste of summer with some state fair carnival ride favorites. A carousel, fun houses, the giant slide, a roller coaster, and a bounce house are just a few of the amusement park style rides the Harvest Fair offers.

7. Hay

Hey hey hey, it’s hay! A fall festival would not be complete without hay. An entire area of the park is devoted to playing with it. Let the kids run around, jump into it, bury themselves in it, pose by it and enjoy many other activities and photo opportunities with the special dried grass.

8. Shows

Catch a family-friendly comedy show from Kenny Ahern or the World Beef Expo. Kenny Ahern will have you laughing from the various tricks he does with audience volunteers. The World Beef Expo is held in three different buildings and features cows from farms all over the state (and elsewhere).

9. Pumpkin decorating

Another activity vital to fall: pumpkin decorating. It costs 3 tickets for a pumpkin and all the decorating supplies to go with. Choose from feathers, sequins, paper, foam, stickers and lots more to make your pumpkin stand out from the others. And, you can put it on display when you get home for a good memento of the festival and some great fall vibes.

10. Music

At Harvest Fair, you won’t be able to avoid a whole bunch of great live music. In addition to the cover bands that State Fair is known for throughout the park, Associated Bank Amphitheater headliners include Morgan Wallen Sept. 28, Mark Farner’s American Band Sept. 29 and Bobby Way and the Wayouts Sept. 30. From country music to rock, the live music will keep you entertained. Be sure to check the full entertainment schedule