Fall Festivals: Pumpkin Patches, Corn Mazes, Apple Cider Donuts and More

The first keg of beer at the Munich Oktoberfest is tapped on September 17. Five days later, the autumnal equinox arrives. The days are getting shorter. The humidity drops. Summer is finished. (Sorry, not sorry.)

This weekend marks the start of the fall festival season. Before you know it, it’ll be time to pack the kids in the car and head to a farm full of jumping mats and cute baby animals, or round up your adult friends and head to a farmhouse with a corn maze and apple cider donuts. Pumpkins are appearing in slabs, and decorative gourds are beginning to appear at farmers’ markets. Meanwhile, seasonal beer, hard cider and regional wines are given pride of place at events of their own.

Whether you’re looking to embrace the spirit of harvest with family and friends or simply exploring the tastes of fall, there’s a perfect event on the horizon.

Autumn Festival at Summers Farm: Families have been visiting Summers Farm for fall fun for over 26 years, but this year be sure to take note of the farm’s new address. “It’s all the same business, same property, just a different farm four miles down the road,” says owner Teresa Summers. The new, larger farm near Frederick is set up for wagon rides and a Dolly Parton-themed corn maze, plus other kid-friendly activities like ziplines, slides, and tug of war. The Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival kicks off September 17 and continues through Halloween, with fireworks on Friday and Saturday nights starting September 30. Open daily from September 17 to October 31. 7503 Hollow Road, Middletown, Md. summersfarm.com. $12.50 to $17.50 online, $15.50 to $20.50 at the door; free for children 2 and under.

Bluemont Fair: If you want your city kid to have the chance to ride a pony and participate in a sack race while getting a dose of fresh mountain air, head to the Bluemont Fair. This Loudoun County village at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains hosts a fall festival with all kinds of wholesome activities and demonstrations, including model train collections, quilt shows, pickle and quilt contests. pies, bake sales, antique markets and blacksmith demonstrations. Sept. 17-18, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 33846 Snickersville Tpk., Bluemont, Va. bluemontfair.org. $10; free for children 9 and under.

Bowles Farms Corn Maze and Pumpkin Farm: This is the 22nd year that Tina and Tommy Bowles have created a corn maze on their farm in southern Maryland, and the weather has been perfect for a towering maze. “This year we had some nice heavy rains and the corn is probably 9 to 10 feet tall,” says Tina Bowles. “We’re definitely going to lose a lot of people in the corn maze.” Fortunately, the farm’s “corn cops” will be on hand to rescue anyone who becomes hopelessly lost in the 15-acre sunflower-themed maze. There’s an easier version for kids, plus attractions like a farm-inspired playground, wagon rides, pick-your-own pumpkins, and the Farmer’s Daughter cupcake shop. You can buy tickets at the door, no advance ticket is necessary. Open Saturday and Sunday from September 24 to October 30. 22880 Budds Creek Rd., Clements, Md. bowlesfarms.com. $15; free for children 3 and under.

Reston Farm Garden Market Fall Festival: Thanks to an extra car, this year’s Reston Farm Garden Market Express Train will suit even more kids and parents as it winds its way around the Reston property, passing pumpkin displays and the bouncing houses of the Fall Festival. “The train goes around the Farmer’s Market and it plays fun music for little kids. I know all the songs; I hear them in my sleep,” jokes Bonita Weinstein, owner of the market with her husband, Lowell. After the kids have played the festival and visited a petting zoo with pigs, goats, chickens and a rooster named Colonel, they can choose a pumpkin to take home – don’t worry about a hard sell , parents, because it is included in every child. ticket. Leave time to visit the market, which will be filled with chrysanthemums and pansies, and decadent pantry items, from bacon to apple cider donuts. Open Saturday and Sunday from September 24 to October 30, plus October 10. 10800 Baron Cameron Ave., Reston, Va. restonfarm.com. $28 per child and $7 per parent; free for children 24 months and under.

Pumpkin Party at Butler’s Orchard: The 42nd annual Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival is already full of places for kids to run free – like a straw-filled hayloft and a 70-foot-long jumping mat – and this year will see three new attractions in plus popular mazes, pumpkin cannons and wagon rides. Cute little goats will climb the 16-foot-high goat mountain, and the very first tractor purchased for the farm will be set up for a tractor pull. “Gather your friends and try to pull this tractor to the finish line,” Butler’s Orchard General Manager Tyler Butler says of this new activity highlighting his grandfather’s old John Deere M tractor. dad. Meanwhile, construction-obsessed kids will love jumping on mini diggers and digging a hole using hydraulic levers with these little machines shipped from Sweden. On your way out, head to the pumpkin patch to pick your own pumpkins for 75 cents a pound. Open Wednesday to Sunday from September 24 to October 30, plus October 10. Butler’s Orchard, 22222 Davis Mill Rd., Germantown, Md. butlersorchard.com. $10 to $15 online, $12 to $17 at the door; free for children under 2 years old. It is advisable to book in advance, especially on weekends.

Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival at Great Country Farms: Little piglets race for Oreos and a ‘P-Rex’ dinosaur gnaws on pumpkins during the Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival at Great Country Farms in Bluemont. This popular family attraction features a 12-acre corn maze and playground with a new extra-long “mega slide,” plus cider press demonstrations and wagon rides to the pick-your-own pumpkin patch -same. On weekends, adults will enjoy live music (the Jimmy Buffett-style Tropical Attitudes Band kicks off the festival on October 1) and a pop-up for Henway hard cider at the “Roosteraunt” on the farm site. Open daily from October 1 to 31. 34345 Snickersville Tpk., Bluemont, Va. greatcountryfarms.com. $10 to $16. Free for children 2 and under. Advance reservations are recommended, especially on weekends.

Fall family fun at Miller Farms: Miller Farms has been owned by the Miller family since 1873 and is considered the largest vegetable producer in Prince George’s County, with over 200 acres dedicated to production. County residents know Miller Farms’ Clinton Market as a go-to spot for a variety of produce — produce and meat, of course, but also a full-service bakery, soft serve ice cream, a nursery full of moms, and, at first of summer, U-pick strawberries. In the fall, the farm opens its fields and barn to the community on Saturdays and Sundays for Fall Family Fun, with wagon rides through the fields, a corn maze, jumping mats and slides, games and encounters with farm animals. Piles of pumpkins encourage browsing, and the day isn’t complete without a taste of the bakery’s apple cider donuts, available glazed or covered in cinnamon sugar. Open Saturday and Sunday from October 1 to 30. 10140 Piscataway Road. Clinton, MD. millerfarmsclinton.com. $14.95 online, $16.25 at the door; free for children under 2 years old. Booking is recommended.

Pumpkin Patch at Queen Anne Farm: Queen Anne Farm doesn’t have the jumping mats, pig races or other bells and whistles found at other farm festivals, but that’s what makes it so charming. During the summer and early fall, the main attraction is the roadside stand not far from the Anne Arundel county line, where tables are lined with sweet corn, tomatoes, okra and eggplant. But come fall, it takes on the guise of a one-stop seasonal store: bunches of Indian corn speckled with deep purples, lemon yellows and auburns. Decorative gourds with twisted swan necks. Nubby pumpkins in creamy white or vermilion. But in a field just behind the store, there are even more pumpkins – traditional orange pumpkins in a field, surrounding a kid’s pumpkin-shaped playhouse. Pull a wagon to the pumpkin patch to find the perfect canvas for a jack-o’-lantern, or take a ride in a tractor-drawn wagon to explore. There’s plenty of room to run around, as well as photo backdrops that include straw animals, but the lack of amenities makes Queen Anne a better choice for families with small children, or an outing for kids. adults looking for supplies to make a centerpiece or decorate their front yard. Open daily from October 1 to 31. 18102 Central Ave, Mitchellville, Maryland. queenannefarm.com. $10 per car for Pumpkin Patch admission.

Visit of the Loudoun farm: Loudoun County is a multifaceted place. For one, it has the highest median household income in the United States, according to the Census Bureau, and it’s the fastest growing county in northern Virginia. Loudoun is also home to more than 1,200 farms, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest agriculture census. The bi-annual Loudoun Farm Tour features dozens of local farms, allowing visitors of all ages to encounter pigs and alpacas; visit the fields and greenhouses; take a ride in a hay wagon; or simply pick up some fresh beef, vegetables, honey or artisan cheese to take home. Oct. 15-16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A downloadable map will be available at loudounfarms.org. Admission to most farms is free; there may be additional charges for certain activities or tours.

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