Falling for the Region

Appears in the October 2022 issue.

Looking for a little autumn adventure? In and around the charming town of Valparaiso, Indiana, visitors will find a trifecta of terrific events overflowing with the spirit (and spirits) of the season.

Phantoms of the Opera House

This inaugural adults-only (21 and older) fundraising event on October 29—which includes a costume contest, a spooky pooch parade, craft cocktails, food trucks, live entertainment, and even an Elvira impersonator—may unfold at the Porter County Expo Center, but its name refers to one of the beneficiaries of the evening (along with the Porter County Animal Shelter), the Memorial Opera House in downtown Valpo. In fact, attendees may be inspired to take a quick detour into town before or after the party to check out the historic structure, which stages a variety of musical and theatrical performances and, since its opening in 1893, has hosted such notable figures as Theodore Roosevelt, John Philip Sousa, and the Marx Brothers, as well as—legend has it, and appropriately enough—the occasional ghost of a little girl. memorialoperahouse.com

Fall Harvest Festival

True to its name, this October 15 celebration in Central Park Plaza coincides with the culmination of the seasonal Valparaiso Market, which means visitors will be able to pick up some fresh-from-the-farm produce. Main attractions of this family-friendly day include traditional fall shindig fare (think pumpkin painting, bounce houses, caramel-apple dipping) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in this idyllic city park. valparaisoevents.com/fall-harvest-festival

NWI Storytelling Festival and Ghost Stories

Organized by the Northwest Indiana Storytelling Guild, this annual event presents a wide array of songs and stories for young and old October 14—15 at Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton. In the evening, huddled around a communal campfire on blankets and lawn chairs with the crashing waves of Lake Michigan as a scene-setting backdrop, visitors will be treated to apple cider, cookies, and a fun and frightful telling of ghost tales—with an early not-so-scary session for little ones at 5:30 p.m. and a more macabre mash-up of mischief for older kids and adults at 7 p.m. indianadunes.com 

Photos courtesy of Valparaiso Events (Fall Harvest Festival) and Marie Laudeman/indiana DNR (NWI Storytelling Festival)