The rush is on to capture fall colors as the changing season brings on a rash of fall foliage and harvest festivals. In the mountains of western Maryland, where the change is most prominent, two festivals are scheduled next weekend.
In Garrett County the 23rd annual Autumn Glory Festival will lure many to Oakland for four days of fun, Thursday through next Sunday. The weekend begins with the popular Oktoberfest dinner on Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Oakland Fire Hall, followed by the Fireman's Parade at 7 p.m. Then it's back to the fire hall for an Oktoberfest Celebration, an evening of oompah bands. The Antique Show and Sale opens Friday for three days at the National Guard Armory. That evening the official Maryland State 5-String Banjo Championship will take place at Oakland's Southern High School gym.
One of the weekend highlights is the Autumn Glory Grand Feature Parade at 1 p.m. on Saturday with over 2 1/2 hours of bands, marching units, clowns, drum and bugle corps and floats. Other weekend attractions include a 10km run, heritage craft festival, baseball card show, bagpipe concert, square dancing, turkey dinners, children's activities, the Western Maryland Tournament of Bands and the official Maryland State Fiddle Championship.
Admission is charged for some of the events, but most are free. For information, call (301) 334-1948.
Craft lovers by the thousands converge on the town of Thurmont during Catoctin Colorfest. Now in its 27th year, Colorfest weekend Saturday and next Sunday will bring some 350 artisans and craftspeople to this mountainside town to sell their handiwork. They will set up their booths from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in four major locations: the Community Park, the Firemen's Carnival Grounds, Thurmont Middle School and the Thurmont American Legion Park. Admission is free.
In addition to the crafts, visitors will find Civil War living history camps at the Thurmont Conservation and Sportsman's Club on Hunt Club Road, with a battle re-enactment scheduled Sunday at 2 p.m., apple butter making, dance exhibitions, gospel singers, Sunday orchard tours by wagon, a pancake and sausage breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and fried chicken dinners from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. A variety of other food and snacks can be found throughout town.
In the past traffic has been a major problem, so this year a free shuttle service will take visitors into Thurmont from four parking areas on the outskirts of town: Catoctin High School on Route 550 off Route 15, Thurmont Elementary School on East Main Street, Claire Manufacturing Company on Poplar Street and Thurmont Shoe Company on Apples Church Road (the latter two at the northeast end of town). Parking costs $2. For information, call (301) 271-4432.
You can view the fall color on one-hour round-trip train rides up the mountainside from Thurmont to Sabillasville on the Maryland Midland Railway. The trips will depart from Carroll Street at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. The fare is $7 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under. For information, call (301) 775-8724.
Patuxent River Appreciation Days have been dubbed the "fall event of the season" by the Maryland Office of Tourism Development. They will be held Saturday and next Sunday at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Museum grounds will be filled with exhibits on the biology and ecology of the Patuxent, the largest intrastate river in Maryland. There will be live fish displays, a touch tank filled with river creatures, a fossil booth where you can see how fossils are cleaned and learn how to identify them, and many other educational displays. Free boat rides will be offered both days. Other features include 100 arts and crafts booths, seafood and other food vendors, musical entertainment, toy sailboat making for children and pony rides, and a parade on Sunday.
Activities are free and the museum will be open at no charge, as will the Drum Point Lighthouse and the J. C. Lore Oyster House. The museum is on Route 2 in Southern Maryland at Solomons. For information, call (301) 326-2042.
Olde Princess Anne Days welcome visitors on Saturday and next Sunday to one of Maryland's oldest towns. Princess Anne was incorporated in 1733, and although only a few of the original structures remain, several Colonial and federal homes survive.
Twenty-seven houses, churches and other buildings will be featured on the two-day tour. Twenty of these sites will be included on a walking tour in town, while the remaining seven are in the surrounding countryside. The tour runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. One of the town's prized houses, the Teackle Mansion, can also be seen by candlelight between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday. A demonstration by the Wicomico Hunt Club is scheduled there Sunday at 2 p.m. Lunch will be served Saturday at the Antioch Methodist Church between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.