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In celebration of autumn, its bounty as well as it being the perfect season for gardens and gardening, the U.C. Master Gardeners of Napa County invite everyone to their premiere Fall Faire from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20 in the park behind their 1710 Soscol Ave., Napa.

Set against a backdrop of all things autumn — pumpkins, gourds, scarecrows and more — this festival will offer games, activities, give-aways and surprises.

Admission is $5 per adult (16 years old and older) and free for children. Adult ticket holders will be entitled to a free vegetable seedling. “These plants are good and sturdy seedlings that people will be able to plant now in their winter gardens. We’ll have two types of kale, broccoli, onions, leeks and a variety of lettuces,” said Jane Callier, event chairwoman and Master Gardener.

“But the supply will be limited,” she added.

The event’s theme is “Where Science Fair meets Carnival.” “We wanted to do something that fulfilled our mission of disseminating UC research-based information about gardens and gardening that would be fun with hands-on experiences and activities as well as appeal to a broad audience, or cross-section, of our community,” Callier said.

Yvonne Rasmussen, the Master Gardeners volunteer coordinator, added in jest, “Jane just wanted a party. Plus, she love gourds.”

“The Fall Faire will be a great way for you to discover something new about gardening, to broaden your ideas and/or concepts of a garden and about gardening. It’ll make science fun!, Rasmussen added.

To help set the seasonal mood or ambiance for the event, the Master Gardeners will transform the park behind their office into a festive scene. Near the entrance will be a trailer bedecked with a large cornucopia overflowing with pumpkins, big vegetables and more all harvested from the Master Gardeners’ home gardens.

Near the cornucopia will be a separate display of gourds. “Some of the gourds will be beautifully hand-painted by us,” Callier said.

It is also hoped some of the giant pumpkins being grown by 4-H members will be exhibited at the festival. “The hitch is transporting those huge pumpkins to the Fall Faire,” Rasmussen said.

To add a bit of the unexpected, will be interactive and one-of-a-kind exhibit named Audrey. This rare specimen has a specific dietary need you may have a chance to satisfy.

Another Fall Faire feature will be “Scarecrow Row.” The Master Gardeners will be challenging each other’s talents to create the best scarecrow. “The winner will be decided by the votes cast by those who attend the fair,” said Callier.

The Master Gardeners have other interactive opportunities planned for the carnival. Callier said, “At one booth we’ll have all the materials you’ll need to make a gourd birdhouse, and we’ll show you how to make it.

“Another hands-on exhibit is about natural dyes. We’ll not only tell you about what plants you can grow to produce those dyes, we’ll show you how to make a flower print. You will be able to take the birdhouse and small floral print bag home with you.”

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The event will also offer demonstrations, talks and advice on an array of garden and related topics. They will include successfully planting flowering bulbs; create herb gardens and bouquets; discover how to freeze and dehydrate produce; how to properly care for your gardening tools and demystify pesticide label terminology for their safe use.

In addition, the festival will feature displays about creating healthy gardens. These exhibits will range from observing composting worms and microscopic organisms living within a drop of pond water to learning how-to distinguish between beneficial and destructive insects to selecting appropriate fire-wise plants and learning to identify native oaks. The Master Gardeners will also be displaying and talking about unusual species of the plant world, specifically, mushrooms and carnivorous plants.

Besides the local Master Gardeners, other allied organizations and agencies will be participating as Fall Faire exhibitors. Callier said, “Connelly Ranch will be here with some of their baby goats. NCRCD (Napa County Resource Conservation District) will have its Oak identification game as well as talk about their upcoming Nov. 3 ‘Acorns to Oaks Volunteer Day,’” Callier said.

Rasmussen added, “We’re so excited to have Crystal DeMarco of the Audubon Society joining us at our Fall Faire. She will talk not only about how to attract birds into your garden, but she will also have fun activities for both children and adults.”

An entire area of the park will be devoted to games. Close to this game zone will be a live entertainment area. The local musical group, “Not Dead Yet!” will provided the Fall Faire live entertainment.

“The local chapter of the California Native Plant Society is a great source for information about landscaping with and caring for our indigenous plants,” Rasmussen said. “They are also a wonderful source for those plants. If they have any plants leftover from their fall plant sale, they’ll be available for purchase at our event.”

The Master Gardeners will have plants and books for sale, too.

“Those proceeds help to fund our community education programs, such as our library talks and workshops,” Rasmussen said. “The U.C. Master Gardeners Fall Faire promises to be a great way to explore, appreciate and understand the world of gardens and gardening.”

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