As summer draws to a close, events jam the calendar, making Labor Day weekend a good time to go daytripping. Begin on Saturday with Draft Horse and Mule Day at Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg, Va.
This is one of the big events of the year at Oatlands. Teams of Clydesdales, Percherons and Belgian workhorses will compete in obstacle races, big log pulls and carriage driving demonstrations. One of the fun events is the mule-jumping contest, in which trainers try to coax mules over a fence. A working blacksmith will demonstrate horseshoeing, and visitors can enjoy free pony and wagon rides.
Five of a Kind will entertain with country-bluegrass music, and there will be a craft fair, exhibit of horse-drawn farm implements, a stallion exhibit and tours of the mansion and garden.
Gates are open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults; $3 for ages 7 to 12; free for under 7. Oatlands is on U.S. Route 15, six miles south of Leesburg. For information, call (703) 777-3174.
One of the colorful events in the Maryland area is the 34th annual Labor Day Skipjack Races at Deal Island. The skipjacks are the last surviving commercial sailing fleet in the United States, and during the races you can see several of these beautiful vessels under sail in an eight-mile race around the bell buoy.
The races are the highlight of two days of festivities, which begin Sunday at 1 p.m. with an open canoe race and a parade. Festival activities take place around the Deal Island Harbor, where you'll find arts and crafts, live music, carnival rides, crab races, children's games and an assortment of Eastern Shore food. Other events include the Fireman's Canoe Races and canoe jousting on Sunday, and a swimming contest and large and small boat-docking contests on Monday.
The skipjack race is scheduled at 9:30 a.m. Monday and is preceded by two other boat races. Visitors can have a ring-side seat for the races aboard the Capt. Tyler I. The 65-foot cruise ship will depart Deal Island Harbor at 8:30 a.m. for a cruise of Tangier Sound. Tickets can be bought on race day, and the cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.
Admission to the festivities on Deal Island is $2 per day and free for children under 12. Parking will be available at the Deal Island School with shuttle service to the festival grounds. Deal Island is 30 miles south of Salisbury on state Route 363. Call (410) 651-2968 or (800) 521-9189.
Art and craft festival
Long's Park Art and Craft Festival has been the big Labor Day event in Lancaster, Pa., for 14 years. It offers four days of crafts, music and food from Friday through Labor Day Monday.
The event is one of the top five craft shows in the country. This year's 185 participants were selected by a jury and represent some of the finest artists and crafts people in the country. You will find many unusual items for sale as well as jewelry, furniture, ceramics, paintings and apparel.
The park contains a lake with ducks and swans, a petting zoo and playground facilities. Throughout the festival a variety of musical styles from pop to jazz to classical can be heard, and specialties from local restaurants are available all four days.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday to Sunday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Labor Day Monday. Admission is $7; free for ages 16 and under. The park is on the Harrisburg Pike, an exit off U.S. Route 30. Call (717) 295-7001.
Lilypons Koi Festival
Lilypons Water Gardens in Frederick will present its 12th annual Koi Festival Saturday and next Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Koi are the colorful Japanese imperial fish known for their longevity, and Lilypons has a large selection of them in addition to other ornamental fish. A judged koi competition is one of the main attractions. In some shows, champion koi have been known to sell for thousands of dollars.
Musical entertainment, arts and crafts, paddle boat rides, lectures on water gardening and a wide selection of international food are among the festival attractions.
Admission is free, but a $2 donation will be requested for the Frederick County Art Association's scholarship fund. The gardens are at 6800 Lilypons Road, three miles south of Buckeystown. Call (301) 874-5133.
Hard Crab Derby
On the lower shore people will flock to the National Hard Crab Derby and Fair, a tradition in Crisfield for more than 40 years. A crab cooking contest launches the weekend festivities Friday morning at Crisfield High School at 9 a.m. That evening festival grounds at Somer's Cove Marina open at 5 p.m. Activities include a boat show, art show, rides, games, food and dancing in the Crab Bowl.
The main event, the Hard Crab Derby, is set for 3 p.m. Saturday. It will be preceded by the annual Governors Cup Race, in which governors from other states each sponsor a crab. Also on Saturday is a street parade, swimming meet, volleyball tournament, contests, crafts and entertainment. The fun continues all day Sunday and concludes with fireworks.