Scarecrows, Harvest Celebration and a Spellbinding Jack-O-Lantern Festival=Fall Fun at Powell Gardens

Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s botanical garden, kicks off its month-long celebration of the harvest season with an antique tractor show, a scarecrow display, an art gourd exhibit, sheep-herding demonstration and more on October 3-4. Wander among 100 or so tractors and machines from yesteryear, enter the kids in a pedal pull contest, munch on kettle corn and vote for your favorite scarecrow.

The seasonal fun continues on Oct. 17 and 18 when more than 700 hand-carved jack-o-lanterns make up a spellbinding show for the GLOW Jack-O-Lantern Festival. Here’s a closer look at festivities throughout the month:

9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 2, Preview Day (regular admission)
9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 3-4, Festival Days (festival admission)

This festival of old-fashioned family fun includes an array of antique tractors, engines and other farm equipment, hayrides, tractor parades and a children’s pedal tractor pull. Along with the tractors and other equipment, ongoing exhibits include an antique cider press, an art gourd display by the Show-Me Gourd Society, alpacas, and wool weaving and blacksmithing demonstrations.

Other scheduled activities for Saturday, Oct. 3, include a demonstration on how to make hard cider and apple vinegar at 11:30 a.m.; a concert by the New Century Dulcimer Ensemble from 1 to 3 p.m., a sheep-herding demonstration by PHARM Dog USA at 2:15 p.m., and the Parade of Power tractor parade at approximately 3:30 p.m. 

On Sunday, Oct. 4, the Garden Chef Series concludes for the season with demos by cookbook author Beth Bader at 12:30 p.m. and by Craig Howard, chef/owner of Howard’s, at 2 p.m. 

All demonstrations and exhibits are included in festival pricing (on Saturday and Sunday): $12/adults, $10/seniors and $5/children 5-12. A three-day pass is available for $15 at the gate.

6-10 p.m. Oct. 17-18

Powell Gardens’ newest spin on an old tradition returns for year two on the evenings of Oct. 17 and 18. GLOW Jack-O-Lantern Festival includes a self-guided spellbinding walk through the Gardens aglow with more than 700 hand-carved Jack-O-Lanterns. Visitors will encounter multiple spectacular scenes such as a massive spider in its web, a school of skeleton fish and a bee hive—all reflecting the 2015 theme “Nature’s Nightmares.” 

New for 2015: designer/sculptor Rudy Garcia will offer live pumpkin carving tutorials and showcase an exhibit of his work. A master pumpkin carver, Garcia has worked with Lucasfilm, Marvel Entertainment and Universal Monsters, among others, and is known for his artistic and compelling carvings. He will work on site and talk with visitors throughout the evening.

Indoor activities include an informal jumbo jack-o-lantern carving competition among area carving enthusiasts, designers, artists and others. Visitors can view the jumbo jacks, which weigh up to 90 pounds, in the conservatory and vote for their favorites. Also indoors is a “bat cave” for children to explore, a creepy-crawly petting zoo and related crafts such as an origami bat. 

The evening also includes face painting, pumpkin painting and hayrides (extra fees apply) and a variety of food and drink will be available for purchase.

Festival admission applies during GLOW: $12/adults, $10/seniors and $5/children 5-12. An online early bird discount of $2 off for adult or senior tickets is available through Oct. 5 at

Scarecrows in the Garden
9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 1-31
View the results of Powell Gardens’ annual Scarecrow Contest and vote for your favorite icon of autumn throughout the month of October. Located in the Heartland Harvest Garden, the scarecrows are created by local businesses, residents and youth groups.