Meriden blogger rounds up alternative fairs and festivals to visit this fall

Autumn is here once again to grace us with its crisp air and its dazzling foliage, and here in our little corner of the world, it seems there’s another festival or fair popping up every weekend!

While it’s a fun tradition to hit all the fall fest staples, this year you may wish to consider branching out. Try something new and keep an eye out for less-conventional fairs and festivals in our area— there are more options than you’d think. 

Specific Fairs

Some festivals are a broad celebration of a town’s harvest, or of the beautiful autumn season itself. Others, however, are oddly specific enough for a quirky and charming day out, like the West Hartford Art League Fine Art Festival. Held the weekend of September 25th and 26th, this festival featured local artists’ work for sale, live music, and more. 

A few options to explore coming up, with a definitive celebration focus, include the Connecticut Garlic & Harvest Festival in Bethlehem and the New England Antiques & Oddities Exhibition in East Haven. While the “Garlic Fest” is looking to be more of a foodie’s paradise, the New England Antiques & Oddities Exhibition is looking to be more of a celebration of creativity and open-mindedness, manifested into art and general curiosities. For a taste of something different, get specific! 

Renaissance Fairs 

They say to not live in the past, but it can be fun to visit! This festival season, don’t overlook a Renaissance fair just because you’ve never been. Some common misconceptions about these types of events might be a bit intimidating. Though they are encouraged, costumes are not required, and these types of events are typically child-friendly.

Watch amazing exhibitions, feast on medieval flavors, and visit local artisans —the main fair of this type would be the Connecticut Renaissance Faire in Lebanon, CT running from September 4th through October 17th but there is also a New York Renaissance Faire from August 21st through October 3rd. Those who have spent time in this setting know this already but for those who may be new to the Renn faire scene, don’t forget to dress for comfort and come hungry! 

Shop Local Fairs

When it comes to spending our weekends out in gorgeous weather, it’s natural to lean towards the larger, commercial events that are well-known and well-loved! This season, consider spreading the love to smaller, less considered local micro-fairs that feature hyperlocal artists.

Many communities, schools, and religious centers are putting in a lot of effort to make up for lost time and host events that directly support the creators. Often, we look forward to Holiday Fairs of this caliber but we overlook them during the fall. Farmers Markets often collaborate with communities to bring together events. Both Bristol and Meriden have these types of events running through the end of October and mid-October respectively.

Another great community event to look out for is the Wethersfield Arts & Crafts Fair on October 2nd. The fair highlights local work while fundraising for the Wethersfield Historical Society, and has that same “support local” feel that can only be attained at the intimate community level. 

After the year we’ve had, we owe it to ourselves to try new things! This weekend, challenge yourself to think outside the box and take a road less traveled. Happy day tripping! 

Francesca Fontánez is a Meriden-based journalist, educator, and creative. A graduate of both the University of New Haven and the University of Bridgeport, she is happy to be back in Meriden writing about the city she loves. When she's not helping out in the English department at Maloney High School, she's either exploring the Eastern seaboard for her lifestyle blog (@ eastsidevibes on Instagram) or working on music for her band, Cessa and The Zach. Email Francesca at with tips on what you want to read about next, or just to say hi!

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