A new Halloween-themed event has made its way to Riverside County.

The Riverside County Scare and Pumpkin Festival at the fairgrounds in Indio is part family-friendly attraction paying homage to Día de Muertos, part pumpkin patch, part spooky carnival and all fun.

“When we first came on the grounds we were asking everyone in the valley what it was that they wished was here in Coachella Valley that wasn’t already here,” Chris Pickering, CEO of Pickering Events, said. “And the answer, resoundingly, was a pumpkin patch, and so we put together over the course of the past year this amazing pumpkin patch and haunted house and just a community gathering place and fun, family friendly area to hang out in the October season.”

The altar near the entrance of the festival invites attendees to honor the dead. (Photo by Alicia Ramirez)

Before the sun goes down, the event is the realm of children, their delighted laughter mixing with the music as they explore the fictional town of San Fantazma — watching vintage cartoons at the town’s cinema, picking the perfect pumpkin at the pumpkin patch in the plaza, posing for photos with the colorful displays and honoring the dead at the town’s ofrenda.

“One of the things that we’re doing with the Scare and Pumpkin Festival is providing an ofrenda, a community altar,” Pickering said. “We do have the ability for guests to leave notes for their departed loved ones in the ofrenda, so that’s a unique community piece that will grow over the years to come.”

But as soon as the sun goes down, the haunted house opens its doors and those who dare can brave the Carnival Carnivore, a haunted house where visitors make their way through a number of dimly lit rooms before being fed to the beast itself.

“I think it was good, but very scary,” 12-year-old Audrey Ramos said.

“The scariest part was when I heard the zombies and the end,” 11-year-old Andrew Carranza said.

Despite being scared, Audrey and Andrew said they would definitely recommend it to all of their friends. And while Audrey and Andrew screamed the entire way through, 10-year-old Jonathan Stokes said he wasn’t that scared going through it.

“It was good, because it wasn’t that scary,” he said. “It might be scary for little kids, but not for adults.”

Two oversized skeletons welcome people to Catina Calacas, a Joshua Tree-themed bar at the festival. (Photo by Alicia Ramirez)

The festival also has a number of food offerings including bacon-wrapped hot dogs ($9), street tacos ($5), pumpkin pie ($6) and churros ($5). In terms of drinks, adults have their choice of a selection of beers ($9) or margaritas ($12). Non-alcoholic options range in price from $4-$6.

The festival will run every Friday for the rest of the month from 5-11 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. The festival will also be open Oct. 30 from 5-10 p.m. and Oct. 31 from 5-11 p.m. The haunted house opens every night at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $8 for general admission and $5 for children under the age of 12. Tickets for the haunted house are $20 per person and must be purchased separately. Tickets can be purchased online or in person.

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Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.

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