In Praise of Fall Fun

By Meg Walburn Viviano

All over Chesapeake Country, the pumpkins are picked and carved. The Halloween decorations are up—giant, hairy spiders crawling up houses and life-sized skeletons posed on porch swings. The candy is ready in bowls (except for those fun-sized pieces you swiped, hoping no one would notice).

This Halloween season is a sigh of relief from the last, when cities and towns warned families to skip trick-or-treating for their own safety and most fall-themed events were canceled out of caution.

In 2021, the return of fall festivals in Chesapeake Country is a welcome turn of the tide. Mostly held outdoors on wide-open farmland, these autumn traditions are literally a breath of fresh air.

My optimism (and faith in fellow humans) was restored a couple of weekends ago on a visit to Knightongale Farm in Harwood. Looking for a Sunday activity to occupy my two little guys whose energy knows no bounds, I put them in the car and headed south on Route 2. On a rolling hillside dotted with pumpkins, we found every activity imaginable for young kids. Hay bales to climb! Animals to pet! Bounce house! Corn maze! Slide! Pony rides!

We tore through just about every attraction, some twice. We only stopped to eat barbecue sandwiches and dance to the country music played by a DJ who had set up high on the hill. We were happy and the people around us were happy. Young couples picked out pumpkins. Multi-generational families ate together. Kids (mostly) waited their turn for each game. A pop-up birthday party was underway at a nearby picnic table.

And then, the grand finale: a hayride all over the farm, pulled by a big red tractor. The wait was about 20 minutes, but my 3-year-old was determined to take a ride. The caramel apples we got as a treat helped pass the time—just try to eat one of those quickly—and the rest of the time was spent wiping sticky cheeks and fingers. When it was our turn to go for a ride, we saw views you just can’t get in the suburbs: acres and acres of dried sunflowers and soybean plants, and that brilliant-blue sky you only find in fall. The boys proclaimed the ride to be the best part of our day.

When we stepped down from the trailer, the hayride line stretched even longer than before. Nearby, the farm DJ was playing the Cha Cha Slide, that love-it-or-hate-it line dance we’ve all heard at weddings. At least two dozen people waiting for hayrides broke out in choreographed dance, flash-mob style:

“Take it back now, y’all! One hop this time! Right foot, let’s stomp. Left foot, let’s stomp. Cha cha now, y’all…”

Without hesitation, my 5-year-old joined in—he’d learned the moves in school. And so we ended our day on a hayride high, dancing with strangers on a farm in South County.

I wish you just as much joy in your fall experiences this weekend and beyond. Click here to see all the happenings across Chesapeake Country, Halloween-themed and otherwise. There are several good weeks of fall left!