A Fusion of Fun and History – AutumnFest at the Patrick Ranch Museum


Looking for something fun, but not scary, to do during the month of October with the kids? How about painting a live donkey and taking your child’s picture with it? Yes, really, I’m not joking. That’s just one of the many unique activities offered during the 5th annual AutumnFest at the Patrick Ranch Museum in Durham, located just two miles south of Chico.

There will be hay rides, pumpkins for sale, stock dog trials, pony carriage rides, a scarecrow contest display (vote for your favorite), a petting zoo, children’s craft activities, and other activities for both children and adults. The Patrick Ranch’s Midway Café will be open October 10, 11, 17 & 18 with lunch items and beverages available for purchase. There are no ghoulish Halloween decorations if that’s something you’re trying to avoid with young children.

art-1015-patrick-ranch3“We’ve been there for two Halloween seasons,” says April Pitaluga of Oroville, mother of two girls, ages 8 and 11. “It’s laid back, country, and low-key … everything we look for!” April says they did it all – a pony cart ride, farmhouse tour, craft making, and they even pickled a pumpkin. “We get everything we need in this festival – the entry fee is well worth it.”

The museum’s mission is to preserve the agricultural history of the Sacramento Valley. The 28-acre ranch was given to the Far West Heritage Association by Hester Grimm Patrick and her husband William Garrison Patrick, and first opened to the public as a museum in 2002.

One of the main attractions at the ranch is the Glenwood farmhouse, built in 1877 and furnished with Hester Patrick’s furniture and other collections. Farmhouse tours are available during AutumnFest, but visitors are welcome at the ranch year-round on most weekends from 11am-3pm.

The ranch has an orchard of almond trees, which were established in 2011 through the University of California Extension program. The new Nuts, Nuts, Nuts exhibit is on display in the Visitor Center and will be available for viewing during Autumnfest.

A visit to the ranch is a memorable and fun family outing. “The whole ranch is an education,” says Shar Plowman, longtime public relations volunteer. “It has things that kids can relate to.” School field trips and other group visits to the ranch include hands-on educational experiences. The facilities can also be rented for weddings and other special events.

art-1015-patrick-ranch2North State Parent Magazine will be hosting its 22nd anniversary celebration at the ranch on October 17 during Autumnfest, and invites everyone to stop by for fun activities, including meeting an array of interesting reptiles from Ron’s Reptiles.

Museum Director Karen Lobach says the donkeys, provided by Prancing Ponies, will be at AutumnFest on October 10, 11, 17 and 18. The Mount Lassen Fiber Guild will present “Fiber Fusion” on October 10 & 11, with demonstrations showing how fiber is dyed and used in weaving, spinning, lace-making and other fiber arts. Meet fiber animals, including yaks, and take a mini-workshop to learn even more.

The ranch hosts events year-round, including the upcoming Break Bread with a Farmer dinner on November 6, the annual fine arts show and sale on December 5 and 6, and a holiday tea and fashion show on December 12. My own family fondly remembers our first visit to the ranch last year for the annual Threshing Bee (held each June) where we watched demonstrations of  wheat harvesting, sheep dogs in action, bread baking in an adobe oven, and a man with a live bee-beard! This was all both memorable and enjoyable to my children, now ages 10 and 12.

The museum includes a gift store that’s open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11am-3pm – you’ll find art, jewelry, books and more.

Autumnfest runs October 3-25 on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children ages 12 and younger. Patrick Ranch Museum is located at 10381 Midway. For more information, contact the ranch at (530) 342-4359 or visit them online at patrickranchmuseum.org. 


About Julie Celeri

Julie Celeri is a homeschooling mom of two, a boy and a girl, and enjoys going to fun events like the AutumnFest and getting to call it a “field trip.” She has lived in Oroville for 3 years after moving from the Bay Area, and is enjoying learning more about country living.

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