By Josh Popichak

It's now officially my favorite time of year... And with the start of autumn come cool nights, walks in crunchy leaves and many seasonal events and activities to enjoy.

I typically focus on the Saucon Valley and Southern Lehigh areas, so I wanted to highlight some of the upcoming fall-themed events in those areas with this post.

At the top of my list for fun, family-friendly events is the Lower Saucon Township Historical Society's annual Apple Festival at the Lutz-Franklin Schoolhouse, which will be held Saturday, Oct. 4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (rain or shine).

IMG_20140712_152852 Some of the highlights of this year's festival will be apple tastings, an apple dessert contest (judging will be at 1 p.m.), apple treats from Bechdolt's Orchard, live music by the John Samuels Trio (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), hot dogs and drinks, kids' crafts, a Hellertown Area Library story time (at noon), a reading by Bonnie Banks-Beers of her book "What Do Animals Eat?", photos with Johnny Appleseed and tours of the 1880 one-room school, which is located at 4216 Countryside Lane, Hellertown.

Parking is available in the Kingston Park lot, which is adjacent to the schoolhouse grounds. From I-78, take Route 412 south to Cherry Lane (the intersection at Waffle House). Turn left onto Cherry Lane and then left at Easton Road. Head east on Easton Road several miles to just past the I-78 overpass. Turn left onto Countryside Lane, and the school will be on your left after about a mile.

Another event is Hausman's Fruit Farm's Fall Festival, which will be held on five consecutive weekends starting this weekend, Sept. 27-28 (Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Hausman Fruit Farm ​A fifth-generation family farm located at 2824 Limeport Pike, Coopersburg, Hausman's will host old-fashioned fall fun, including hayrides, pumpkin-picking, a corn maze, a hay maze, pedal trains and crafts. Food, jam, jellies, baked goods, fresh apple cider, mums and fall decor will be available for purchase.

On Sunday, Oct. 19, Hausman's will participate in the Lehigh County Open Gate Farm Tour, which will include farms throughout the Lehigh Valley. Special activities will include butter-churning, apple butter-making, a cider press demonstration, pony rides and corn shelling.

To reach the farm, take Rt. 309 to its intersection with Saucon Valley Road/Center Valley Parkway. Then take Saucon Valley Road to Limeport Pike, turn left, and follow the road through the village of Limeport to the farm, which will be on your left before the PA Turnpike overpass.

Finally, on Wednesday, Oct. 8, mark your calendars for "Ghost Stories of Lower Saucon Township" at 7 p.m. at Seidersville Hall, 3700 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bethlehem. Local author and historian Karen Samuels will talk about legendary (and spooky) hauntings of landmarks such as Wydnor Hall, the Leithsville Inn and the Beethoven Waldheim Club. This is a free talk recommended for ages 10 and up.

Happy fall!

Josh Popichak is an independent digital journalist who focuses his news coverage on the Saucon Valley. He has edited or written for several area print and online publications, including Hellertown-Lower Saucon Patch, The Bethlehem Press and the former Saucon News. His interests include history, politics, media, food and travel. A Bethlehem native, he lives in Fountain Hill with Ziggy, his cat. Follow him on Twitter (@JoshPopichak).