All sorts of family fun is in store during the annual Harvest Festival at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont. It's from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 13-14, and visitors can share in the harvest bounty.

Activities will include harvesting the Indian corn and popcorn (yes, there's a special variety used for that purpose), and if you help, you can take some home. Please bring your own bags to carry off your share.

There will also be magic shows, cider pressing, live old-time music, craft and blacksmithing demonstrations, rides on the farm's unique horse-drawn train, and tours of the historic Patterson House.

Ardenwood is a restored 19th century estate located at 34600 Ardenwood Blvd., just north of Highway 84 in Fremont. The festival is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors 62 and older, $5 for children ages 4-17, and free for 3 years and under. Parking is free. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2797.

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    At the other end of the park district, the visitor center at Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley, which hosted an open house Sept. 22, will have its formal dedication in a program from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13.

    Master of ceremonies will be Ted Radke, who represents northern Contra Costa County on the East Bay Regional Park District board of directors. Keynote speaker will be Tom Torlakson, state Superintendent of Public Instruction and former state legislator. Light refreshments will be served.


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    Big Break's visitor center is the newest in the district, and will become the center for educational programs highlighting the cultural and natural history of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

    Besides the visitor center, Big Break has a scale model of the Delta that you can walk on, an outdoor amphitheater, a dock that is a premier spot for wildlife viewing, a place to launch kayaks and canoes for waterborne exploration, picnic areas, and a trail leading along the shoreline to Brentwood.

    It's a really pretty park, one of only a few public access points to the Delta. Big Break is located on Big Break Road just north of Highway 4 in Oakley. The visitor center will be open on weekends through the end of the year.

    To RSVP for the dedication, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2200.

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    Nineteenth-century coal miners had some ingenious ways of creating light at the end of the tunnel. Naturalist Bob Kanagaki will show some of their devices in a program from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch.

    Black Diamond Mines is located at the end of Somersville Road, four miles south of Highway 4. Bob's program will be in the underground Greathouse Visitor Center, which is located just up the hill from the Somersville town site. From the uppermost parking lot, walk into the park and follow the signs to Greathouse.

    The program is free. Black Diamond Mines has a parking fee of $5 per vehicle when the kiosk is attended. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

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    Crockett Hills is a regional park in Crockett with panoramic views of Vallejo, San Pablo Bay, and northern Contra Costa County. Naturalist "Trail Gail" Broesder will lead a hike there on a segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6. She'll talk about the park's ranching history along the way.

    The hike is free, limited to ages 10 and older because of its length. Wear comfortable hiking shoes and bring a snack to share. For information, call 510-544-2233.

    Email nedmackay@comcast.net.

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