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Smithfield Halloween festivities to return

Downtown Smithfield’s annual Safe Trick or Treat is back for 2021 after being canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Main Street and Grace Street will close from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31 to allow trick-or-treaters safe passage as they travel to businesses and homes in Smithfield’s historic district. Up to 3,000 people have participated in pre-pandemic years.

The annual costume contest at the gazebo outside The Smithfield Times building will also return, with judging beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised door-to-door trick-or-treating was among the riskiest Halloween activities for spreading COVID-19. In September, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky advised children should be able trick-or-treat safely this year, so long as they stick to traveling in small groups.

But crowded indoor Halloween parties should still be avoided.

A Smithfield town ordinance restricts trick-or-treating to children age 12 and under, but there’s plenty of other Halloween activities scheduled around town through the remainder of October.

Smithfield’s downtown businesses will hold a scarecrow contest Oct. 15 through 31. Residents or tourists can stop by the visitor’s center at 319 Main St. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, or from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays to vote for their favorite. One voter age 18 and up will win a random drawing for a free night’s stay at the historic 1752 Smithfield Inn Bed & Breakfast.

The Smithfield branch of Blackwater Regional Library will display pages from the children’s book “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything” by Linda Williams along Hayden’s Lane, beginning Oct. 18 and continuing through Oct. 31. The idea is for children to walk along Hayden’s Lane and read the book piecemeal, an activity known as a “StoryWalk,” which became popular nationwide among libraries as a pandemic-friendly children’s activity.

Parents can pick up a “passport” at the visitor’s center with instructions for the StoryWalk, and have their children return it to the library at 255 James St. for a surprise treat. The library advises families to socially distance and wear masks while participating as a precaution.

On Oct. 22 and 23, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., the 1750 Isle of Wight County Courthouse will reprise last year’s Ghost Walk, giving ticketholders an opportunity to meet specters of Smithfield’s past. Tours will depart the courthouse at 130 Main St. every 15 minutes. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12, and free for children under 6. Tickets are available at the visitor’s center. No rain date has been scheduled.

The Darden Country Store, located seven miles outside Smithfield at 16249 Bowling Green Road, will host a corn maze and petting zoo on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

Oct. 28 is “Witches’ Night Out” in Smithfield. Pumpkin carriages will depart the Smithfield Inn from 5 to 8 p.m. Rides are $15 per person for adults and children. Be sure to watch for witches paddling the Pagan River, too, Smithfield’s tourism website, genuinesmithfieldva.com, advises.