Our guide to all that autumn offers
By Kathy Knotts
We officially said goodbye to summer with the autumnal equinox Tues. Sept. 22—the day the sun spends equal time above and below the horizon— but cooler temps and low humidity have been creeping in for a bit longer than that. Now that the flip flops and beach umbrellas aren’t so useful anymore, it’s the season of apple picking, hayrides, bonfires and pumpkin patches.
Fall fun in Chesapeake country is always bountiful. Yet, as with so many events this year, the pandemic has left us with fewer options for to find those experiences. Some of our longtime fall favorites such as Knightongale Farm and Homestead Gardens have opted to skip their annual events this year.
Stacey Greenstreet of Greenstreet Gardens in Lothian says they will host their annual fall festival complete with corn maze this year, but with a few changes. “We decided to move forward because the residents of Anne Arundel County and beyond want and need to get outside and enjoy the season, and we have lots of space,” she says. “Our plan is to move forward with a modified Fall Fun on the Farm event beginning the first weekend in October.” Watch their Facebook page for more announcements regarding their fall festival plans (www.facebook.com/greenstreetgardensflowersandgifts/).
Like other area festivals, Greenstreet will use timed tickets to limit the number of people on the farm at a time, and face masks and social distancing will be required. “We will meet or exceed all local, state and federal guidelines related to COVID-19,” she says. Unfortunately, hayrides will not be included in this year’s festivities, due to the inability to social distance on them. “So we recommend all guests come prepared with sturdy footwear for some extra walking.”
Get Lost (in a Good Way)
One of the biggest attractions for a fall day on a farm is a corn maze. They can range from simple to complex, cheery to frightening and usually feature elaborate designs. Some venues have mini-mazes for preschoolers or a chance to navigate the maze at night with only a flashlight to guide you.
These farms beckon you into their cornstalk labyrinths:
- Maryland Sunrise Farm: This Gambrills farm features a World of Wizards, Harry Potter-inspired design in its 8-acre corn maze. You can also meet feathered and four-legged friends in the petting zoo, play on the hay jump, browse the pumpkin patch and more. Come in your wizarding costumes for photo opps. Sept. 18-Nov. 8, FSaSu, the farm is operating on limited capacity, so purchase tickets online: https://mdcornmaze.com.
- Montpelier Farms: Choose from two mazes at this family farm in Upper Marlboro, both featuring themes of outer space exploration. The large maze is seven acres, the smaller Spookley the Square Pumpkin maze is perfectly sized for younger guests. Note that the Cow Belly Bounce, Sandy Square, Giant Pumpkin Pad and face painting are unavailable this year. Flashlight nights begin in October when the mazes are open till 11pm. Visit the pumpkin patch, take a hay ride or slide down the giant hill. Food and fall décor are for sale. Some attractions require separate purchase. FSaSu, Sept. 19-Nov. 8: http://www.montpelierfarms.com/
- Horsmon Farm: Head to St. Leonard in Calvert County to visit this family farm that boasts a Sudan grass maze, petting zoo and pumpkin patch. Oct. 2-31, WFSaSu: http://www.horsmonfarm.com/farm-visits.html
- Beachmont Corn Maze: Tackle the 6-acre Time Travel Adventure maze at this venue located between Baltimore and Harford Counties in Kingsville, then try the obstacle course, play games, climb the tire pyramid or browse the pumpkin patch. Friday and Saturday nights get lost in the maze with only a flashlight to guide you. Sept. 13-Nov. 7, WThFSa, purchase tickets online: www.beachmont.org/corn-maze
- Rawlings Farm: Head across the Bay Bridge to Goldsboro on the Eastern Shore to visit this family farm that boasts a 6-acre corn maze in the shape of a scarecrow, and a unique pumpkin patch with gourds ranging from traditional orange to blue and white. The fall festival includes a petting zoo, barrel train, corn box, tricycle track, hay ride, slides and more. Sept. 26-Nov. 1, SaSu: www.rawlingsfarmmd.com
- Councell Farms: Look for the big red barn and the John Deere combine slide and you know you’ve found Councell Farms in Cordova, just outside Easton on the Eastern Shore. Explore the corn maze, jumping pillow and pumpkin patch, or buy some apples, cider, jams or fall decoration and flowers. Season passes available, and grandparents joining families at the Field of Fun are free. Sept. 3-Oct. 31: https://councellfarms.com/
- Forrest Hall Farm and Orchard: This farm in Mechanicsville in St. Mary’s County has a Farm Life themed maze, petting zoo, face painting and farm market featuring a variety of apples, pumpkins, mums and fall decor. Sept. 18-Oct. 31, SaSu: http://forresthallfarm.com/
- Bowles Farms: This popular St. Mary’s County corn maze in Clements celebrates 20 years of getting people lost. Their two-phase maze also features a farm theme this year. Guests can enjoy giant slides, barn yard animals, wagon rides, a pumpkin patch, straw jumping pit and the ever-popular Farmer’s Daughter cupcake shop. Sept. 26-Oct. 31, FSaSu: www.BowlesFarms.com.
Pick a Pumpkin, or Apples
Maybe corn mazes don’t thrill and delight you, but choosing the perfect gourd or plucking a ripe apple right off the tree does. If that’s the case, we have a few locations you will want to check out.
- Baugher’s Orchard: Pick your own pumpkins and apples at this Westminster spot. Then take a hayride or visit with the animals at the petting zoo. Oct. 1-31, SaSu: https://baughers.com/
- Butler’s Orchard: Butler’s Pumpkin Harvest Days take you to their patch in Germantown to pick your own perfect pumpkin. Hang out on the farm to play games, take a hayride, and visit their corn maze. Sept. 26-Nov. 1, W-Su: www.butlersorchard.com.
- Queen Anne Farm: Located between Bowie and Galesville, this Mitchellville farm offers your family a traditional trip to the pumpkin patch with a tractor-pulled hay ride and farm animals to visit. Take photos at the Pumpkin House and other attractions, then stop at the country store for décor, mums and carving essentials. For jack-o’-lantern procrastinators, the farm offers pre-cleaned pumpkins Oct. 30 & 31. Daily thru Oct. 31: www.queenannefarm.com
- Clark’s Elioak Farm: This unique farm in Howard County has been operating since 1797. In addition to their pumpkin patch, this site features a petting farm, cow train, wagon rides, pony rides, an Enchanted Express train, Fairy Forest and attractions from the original Enchanted Forest park in Ellicott City. Tu-Su: www.clarklandfarm.com.
- Sharp’s at Waterford Farm: This Brookeville farm welcomes you to an open house every week in October for animal feeding, hayrides, a trip to the pumpkin patch and goodies to take home. The Iron Bridge Horses and Hounds fox-hunting group visit Sept. 26 and Oct. 3 (10:30am). Sept. 26-Nov. 1, SaSu: www.sharpfarm.com.
- Homestead Farm: This pick-your-own farm in Poolesville reports that they are temporarily out of apples (pre-picked are available) but more should come in a few weeks. You can also pick up pumpkins and other fall produce, as well as flowers, jams, honey and cider. Open daily: www.homestead-farm.net.
- Larriland Farm: Pick your own apples while they last at this Woodbine location. Farm reports the picking is scattered and will not last long, so come early. You can also find a few late season fruits and lots of cut flowers to harvest, plus hayrides. Call for latest harvest information: 410-422-2605. Closed on Mondays: www.pickyourown.com/todays-harvest/
- Lighthouse Shelter Pumpkin Patch: Support the homeless shelter program by buying a pumpkin from the “patch” at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in Annapolis. Oct. 3-31: https://friendslhs.org/pumpkin-patch/.
If apples, pumpkins, hayrides and corn mazes all seem like too much work or you’re simply past the age of enjoying them, our last suggestion: get to an Oktoberfest. Running Hare Vineyard in Prince Frederick welcomes beer lovers to the Southern Maryland Biergarten Oct. 2-4 for local brews, live music and fall festivity.