Animal encounters, pumpkin carving, and crafty creations… Celebrate the first days of fall with Jack Hanna and his animal friends at The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium during Jack Hanna’s Fall Fest this weekend! The event runs from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Jack Hanna signs autographs at Fall Fest

Hanna will be making special appearances at the Animals on Safari Stage on both Saturday and Sunday at 11:45 and 1:45 p.m. He will be joined by several of his animal friends, including “Air Bud” (yes, the one from the family films). Between performances, Hanna will sign autographs for guests.

For more family fun, head over to the Trades of Tradition Village (located in the Zoo’s Shores area) to see several artistic demonstrations, such as candle and soap making, blacksmithing, woodcarving, and quilting. Guests can even help the Zoo prepare for its upcoming Boo at the Zoo event by making scarecrows, and pick up a work of art created by the zoo’s residents at the Animal Enrichment Painting Sale.

A pumpkin carver at Fall Fest

A new addition to this year’s event is Jack Hanna’s Pumpkin Carving Championship at Conservation Pond. Nine culinary will compete to be crowned “Carving Champion”. The competition consists of three parts. For the first part, zoo guests will vote on the competitors’ pre-carved pumpkins. In the second part (Saturday from 11 – 3), competitors must carve a 3D-zoo themed piece, and in the final portion (Sundays from 10 – 2) carvings do not have to adhere to a specific theme.

Fans of the film How to Train Your Dragon can participate in the Fall Fest Seek-N-Find. Explore the zoo to learn more about the world of dragons and earn a chance to win prizes, including tickets to see the How To Train Your Dragon LIVE Spectacular at the Schottenstein Center in October.

And, of course, the weekend would not be complete without some animal activities! Catch your favorite critters bobbing for apples, meet a few up close at Jungle Jack’s Landing, or watch one of the zoo’s scheduled shows (Animals on Safari will start at 4 p.m and features over 100 exotic, barnyard, and domestic animals).

Other highlights during this weekend’s festivities are keeper talks (scheduled from 11:00 – 3:30), musical performances by Mike Cheatham and the Hastily Assembled Bluegrass Band, and entertainment by the Cowboy Magician. A Country Character Caravan and Character meet and greets are also scheduled each day.

Finally, if all of the activity is making you hungry, stop at one of the following for a specialty treat:

  • Village Coffee and Deli (Pumpkin lattes and cappuccinos)
  • Ice Cream & Fudge (Pumpkin fudge and ice cream)
  • Conservation Courtyard (Kettlecorn)
  • Tunnel and Lakeside Cart (Pumpkin flavored beer and hard cider)
  • Various carts (S’mores and caramel and candy apples)
  • Congo River Market Food Court (Soup and chili)

For more information on Jack Hanna’s Fall Fest, visit the Columbus Zoo website.

~ Post by Dawn