Patoka Lake will host two Autumn Getaway Weekends, Oct. 7 and 8, and Oct. 14 and Oct. 15

Patoka Lake will host two Autumn Getaway Weekends, Oct. 7 and 8, and Oct. 14 and Oct. 15, respectively. All programs take place in the modern campgrounds at state park tents.

On Oct. 7 and 14, campers can buy pumpkins from the pumpkin wagon. Proceeds from this activity will benefit Patoka’s birds of prey. Family games will be from 5 to 7 p.m., and a bicycle decorating contest with a parade will take place at 7:30 p.m.

On Oct. 8 there will be a Dutch oven cook-off beginning at 12:30 p.m. Starting this year, the cook-off is by advance registration only, and spots need to be reserved by Oct. 6 by calling the Nature Center at 812-685-2447. This event must have no fewer than 15 dishes registered in advance in order to take place, otherwise it will be postponed until 2023.

Judging will be at 3:30 p.m. During judging, for $3, campers will have a chance to sample the Dutch oven dishes as well as eat cast-iron chili prepared by DNR staff and volunteers. Bring a bowl or plate and silverware.

Craft activities will take place at section A of the campground near the playground on Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to noon and Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants can purchase a pumpkin and carving tools to create a special jack-o-lantern for a pumpkin carving contest. Attendees can also bring a prewashed white cotton T-shirt for tie-dying or make a tin solar bead or glow bracelet, among other options.  

On Oct. 8 at 1 p.m. and Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. there will be a costumed pet parade, followed by a contest with a special guest grand marshal. Pets must be on a leash.

Campers under 12 will be able to trick-or-treat around the campgrounds from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 8 and 15. The campgrounds will be shut down to vehicles during this time. Candy distributors are asked to place candy on tables rather than in bowls.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 15, Patoka will have a silent auction to benefit its birds of prey.

A change has been made to the campsite decorating contest for this year. All sites are automatically registered to compete. All section A campsites will compete against other section A sites, section B against B, and section C sites against C. Beginning at 7:30 p.m., judges will award prizes.

For more information regarding these special events or other programs at Patoka, call the Patoka Lake Nature Center at 812-685-2447.

Patoka Lake ( is at 3084 N. Dillard Road, Birdseye, IN 47513.

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