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14Family time column twj

Get back to nature and back to fun this weekend at Quarry Hill Nature Center’s Fall Festival. This annual family-friendly event offers canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, cave tours, bio BINGO, pumpkin coloring, cookie decorating, food and treats — something fun for family members of all ages. Activities take place both indoors and outside and many are run with the help of dedicated local volunteers.

"One thing that makes the fall festival really special is the over 300 ninth grade volunteers who help out during the event," said Sue Shockey, program coordinator at Quarry Hill Nature Center. "Our high school volunteers help at all the activity stations and really connect with the kids, giving each one lots of personal attention."

Quarry Hill is a 290-acre city park with several walking trails, a fishing pond (mostly a catch and release pond), caves, as well as a large hands-on exhibit hall complete with various Minnesota-native animals (turtles, fish, snakes, birds). Quarry Hill offers a variety of classes, activities and special events — including parent/child nature classes, summer camps (for kids as young as four), snowshoe and cross-country ski rental — and is a very popular spot to hold children’s birthday parties. There is never an admission fee to Quarry Hill. Fees may apply to classes and activities.

"Quarry Hill is a great place for families because it’s kid-sized," Shockey said. "There is plenty to see and touch but not so much as to be overwhelming. There are fish to feed, hikes both long and short, a pond full of critters and no long car ride to get here."

There is no admission fee to the fall festival. Tickets can be purchased for food (hot dogs, tabouli, cookies, nachos, ice cream) and activities. Tickets are $1 each. But buy more and get a better deal ($20 gets you 30 tickets).

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Family Time is written by Lindy Lange, editor of www.ROCHESTERfamilies.com.

Go & Do

WHAT: Quarry HIll’s 18th annual Fall Festival, Saturday, Sept. 15 and Sunday, Sept. 16, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE: 701 Silver Creek Road N.E.

PHONE: 281-6114

ON THE WEB: www.qhnc.org

Inside

• More family calendar — Page D2.

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Quarry Hill facts

• Offers Full Moon Hikes. Family members of all ages (though not suitable for strollers) are invited to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of Quarry Hill’s plant and animal life in the light of the full moon. Upcoming hikes: Sept. 29, and Dec. 21. Small fee. Call to register.

• Celebrates Halloween with the annual Halloween Happening, Oct. 26-27. A fun (not scary) evening for parents and children ages 4 to 12, the happening includes an hour-long hike (where you’ll encounter friendly "creatures of the night," including an owl, skunk and raccoon) followed by treats and activities back at the nature center. Small fee. Call to register.

• Rings in the new year with a family-friendly New Year’s Eve party. Guests enjoy cave tours, skiing and snowshoeing (cross your fingers for snow), crafts, games and a snack buffet. Small fee. Call to register.

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