Saturdays in October are offering another way to enjoy autumn’s weather and colors.
That would be at the Fall Season Days at Museums of Western Colorado’s Cross Orchards Historic Site, 3073 F Road, where from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. there will be plenty to see and learn while exploring its buildings, apple orchards, railroad exhibits and more.
The Cross Orchards’ farmers market will be from 8 a.m. to noon each Saturday, and while farmers are at the end of their growing season, there is still produce to be had, said Matt Darling, Cross Orchards’ curator.
The site’s ride-on train and tractor-pulled hay rides will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
While the train is ever popular with children, the hay rides are newer. “It’s a hay ride, but it’s not just a hay ride. It’s a guided tour hay ride,” Darling said.
It’s about a half-hour in length and the wagon is large enough that those on the tour can spread out as they listen to stories about Cross Orchards and life 100 years ago as told by a museum docent, he said.
The docent who leads the hay rides is a former teacher and “he really knows his stuff,” Darling said.
The docent also able change up his presentations to match the ages of the people in his audience “so everybody can enjoy it,” Darling said.
The hay wagon is pulled by a newly restored, 1940s Ford tractor. During the restoration, some of the tractor’s original World War II “battleship gray” paint was spotted on the underside of the seat area and they were able to match it at a local paint store, Darling said.
During his research for the tractor, Darling learned that while official records were destroyed in a fire “the rumor was that Henry Ford got his hands on some surplus military paint,” which is why his tractors were then painted “battleship gray.”
After the war, Ford switched its tractor colors to a lighter gray and red, he said.
While the hay ride and ride-on train will be available each Saturday in October, every week will be a little bit different when it comes to what is available at the farmers market and the vendors who will be at the site, Darling said.
Depending on when you go you might see the the Grand Valley Woodturners demonstrating their craft, a booth for the Territorial Daughters of Colorado, a mountain man exhibit and a display of old flintlock weapons.
However, if you’re keen on apple cider, plan to get to Cross Orchards on Saturday, Oct. 17. Darling expected the last of Cross Orchard’s apple cider to sell that day.
“Our apple crop was very badly reduced by the freeze,” he said.
Cross Orchards’ orchards have a large variety of apple trees: red delicious, Jonathan, granny smith, golden delicious, Macintosh, wine sops, lodi and others. There is even a little “vintage” apple tree that was donated not long ago and its DNA could not be found in the national apple database, Darling said.
“It’s a really old, rare variety of tree,” Darling said. In five or so years, “we’ll see what type of apples it produces.”
Meanwhile, Cross Orchard’s cider is for sale for $5 for a half-gallon, $10 for a gallon and once it’s gone there will be no more this year, he said.
The apple fans will have to settle instead for purchasing Cross Orchard’s applesauce cookies. “They’re addictive,” Darling said.
Halloween also will bring a slightly different spin on the Fall Season Days. On Oct. 31, Cross Orchards’ staff and volunteers will dress up in costumes and they are hopeful the public will dress up and come by as well, he said.