There's something about early autumn that begs for an outdoor festival.
The days grow shorter, and the air gets frostier. Yet we're loath to begin our seasonal retreat indoors. We need an excuse to stay outside, to pretend that summer really isn't over.
Fall festivals give us a great excuse. With so many scheduled across the state this month, we can spend weekend after weekend out of doors. From Marriottsville to Jarrettsville, from Darlington to Derwood, Maryland is welcoming autumn with open arms.
Feel the gentle scratch of straw as you stuff a scarecrow. Savor the sweet-spiciness in the air as you watch apple butter boil. Listen to the dulcet sounds of musicians as you peruse crafts booths and flea-market tables. Show your kids time-honored arts like blacksmithing, spinning and chair-caning. Watch as they gleefully pick a pumpkin from a seemingly endless patch.
Following is a sampling of festivals around the state.
Apple Butter Festival and Autumn Craft Fair. Cedar Grove Church, 2015 Mount Carmel Road (Route 137), Hereford. Old-time apple-butter boil, crafts, soup, ice cream and baked goods. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. Call 410-374-6255.
Darlington Apple Festival. Shuresville Road and Route 161, 15 miles north of Bel Air. Apples, pumpkins and mums galore, children's entertainment, petting zoo, crafts, farmers' market, hayrides, pony rides, apple-pie contest. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. Nominal fee for pony rides and hayrides. Call 410-457-4189.
Fall Festival. Also Oct. 8. Children's Museum at Rose Hill Manor Park and adjacent Frederick County Farm Museum, 1611 N. Market St., Frederick. Traditional arts, including soap-making, blacksmithing, broom-making and spinning, hayrides, animals, old-fashioned pork-butchering and meat sale Oct. 7, tractor pull Oct. 7, cake auction Oct. 8, games and crafts for kids including pumpkin-painting, candle-dipping and rag-doll making, museum tours and food. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 7. Noon-4 p.m. Oct. 8. $1 per car; hayrides and children's crafts for nominal fee. Call 301-694-1650.
Fall Festival. Also Oct. 8, 14-15, 21-22. Homestead Gardens, 743 W. Central Ave., Davidsonville. Llama barn, straw maze, hayrides, pumpkin-painting, pony rides, beekeeping demonstrations, live music, landscape displays, floral demonstrations, mums, other fall plants and food. Falconer, noon-3 p.m. Oct. 8. Storytelling Oct. 8, 15. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. all days. Free. Nominal fee for hayride and some other activities. Bring two nonperishable food items for free hayride. Call 410-798-5000.
Fall Festival. Main Street, Sykesville. Train rides and games for kids, art sale, crafts, antiques, live entertainment, including a professional dance team slated to appear at the Sugar Bowl, hourly door prizes, karate and other physical-fitness demonstrations, tours of the town's historic gatehouse museum. Free. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Call 410- 795-3322, Ext. 11.
Fall Festival. Main Street, Port Deposit. Antique car show, art show and sale, mile-long yard sale, karate exposition, antiques, crafts, fish fry, baked goods and other food. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. 410-378-9136.
Fall Festival. Presbyterian Home of Maryland Inc., 400 Georgia Court, Towson. Crafts, games, furniture sale, plants, pony rides, food and more. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. Call 410-823-4622.
Fall Harvest Days. Also Oct. 8. Carroll County Farm Museum, 200 S. Center St., Westminster. Apple-butter boil, scarecrow-making, tractor- and mule-pulled rides, checkers tournaments, live music, museum tours, crafts and food. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. $2-$4; 6 and under free. Call 410-876-2667 or 410-848-7775.
Festival on the Ridge. Also Oct. 8. Downtown Mount Airy. Scarecrow-stuffing, hayrides, contests, including spaghetti-eating and best-dressed pets, live music, moon- bounce and giant slide for kids, crafts and food. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 7. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 8. Free. Call 301-829-1424.
Harvest Festival. Agriculture History Farm Park, 18400 Muncaster Road, Derwood. Storytelling, sheep-shearing, hands-on activities, including candle-dipping, tinsmithing, butter-making and chestnut-roasting, plant clinic, old-time games, including sack races and apple-bobbing, hayrides, hay maze, demonstrations of antique farm machinery, live music, scarecrow-making, chair-caning, rug-braiding, entertainment, fresh produce and other food. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. $5 parking fee, nominal fee for scarecrow-making and some other activities. Call 301-924-4141 . In case of inclement weather, call 301-721-0312.
Honey Harvest Festival. Also Oct. 8. Oregon Ridge Nature Center, 13555 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville. Honey extraction, mead-making, candle-dipping, early-American crafts, hayrides, puppet shows, tours, food, more. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 7 and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 8. Free. Call 410-887-1815.