Equestrian events top the list of things to do next weekend. The Fair Hill International Three-Day Event will bring Olympic-caliber riders and carriage drivers to the Fair Hill course near Elkton from Friday through Sunday.
This year's expanded event not only features world-class equestrian competitions, but true to its theme, "Festival in the Country," there are activities for the whole family. Attractions include a classic car expo, pony rides, demonstrations by the Coors six-horse Belgian Hitch, a country-western band and a variety of food concessions.
There's also opportunity for shopping. About 70 of the region's finest shops will offer arts and crafts, apparel, jewelry and giftware for sale at the Country Shop Tent, open all three days from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Each day will feature different events for horse and rider: dressage on Friday; cross-country on Saturday and stadium jumping on Sunday. While these competitions are taking place, carriage driving competitions will be held for singles, pairs and four-in-hand carriages.
General admission is $6 for adults; free for children 12 and under. Proceeds will benefit the Medical Center of Delaware and the United States Equestrian Team.
Take Interstate 95 to Exit 100. Turn left on state Route 272 toward Rising Sun, then right on state Route 273. Go about five miles and turn right on Gallaher Road and follow to the site. For information, call (302) 428-4253.
Pennsylvania horse show
More beautiful horses and expert riders can be seen at the 10-day Pennsylvania National Horse Show, which continues through Saturday at the Farm Show Arena in Harrisburg. The $50,000 Budweiser Grand Prix de Penn National on Saturday will feature top riders and horses from all over the country.
There are daily morning and afternoon sessions, and evening sessions will run from Tuesday through Saturday. Most evening events include a jumper class, three- and five-gated classes, roadsters, fine harness and draft horses. One of the more recent additions to the show is Hunt Night on Tuesday. Members of Pennsylvania hunts and those of bordering states will bring their field hunters to compete. The popular Jack Russell Terrier Races will also be held Tuesday evening. The $3,000 Gambler's Choice, a speed competition on Wednesday, and the $10,000 "Big Jump" on Thursday are other highlights.
In addition to the competition, the Budweiser Clydesdales will perform each evening from Wednesday through Saturday, and the Valley Forge Military Academy Marching Band will perform ++ Saturday. A variety of shops and food stands are located on the arcade that surrounds the arena. For information, call (717) 233-1335.
A number of Halloween events are listed on the weekend calendar. The Historic Houses of Odessa (Del.) will offer Halloween fun Saturday evening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. It begins with a hayride around four historic properties owned and operated by Winterthur Museum. After the hayride there will be hot dogs and cider by the bonfire and a sing-along and entertainment by "Fiddlin' & Foolin'," a vaudeville variety group. Admission is $6 per person. The houses are located on Main Street just off U.S. Route 13, between Wilmington and Dover. For information, call (302) 378-4069.
The Landis Valley Museum near Lancaster, Pa., will hold a Pumpkin Patch Weekend Saturday and next Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Visitors will be driven in a horse-drawn wagon to the pumpkin patch, where they can pick out a pumpkin (pumpkins will be sold at below-market price). The pumpkins can then be taken to the old barn for painting or carving. Members of the Southcentral Pennsylvania Storytellers Guild will be there with some spooky takes, and the Lancaster County Folk Music and Fiddlers Society will perform traditional music. You can taste some old-time pumpkin custard cooked in the museum's wood-fired bake ovens, or decorate a cookie with the help of culinary students. Admission is $6; $5 for senior citizens; $4 for youth. The museum is 2.5 miles north of Lancaster on state Route 272, off U.S. Route 30. For information, call (717) 569-0402.
At Old Bedford Village, near Bedford, Pa., a pumpkin weighing more than 500 pounds will be on display, along with others of every shape and size during the annual Great Pumpkin Festival Saturday and next Sunday. Cash prizes will be awarded for the largest pumpkin (over 75 pounds) in the Great Pumpkin Contest Sunday. Participants must register that day by noon. The weigh-in is set for 3 p.m. Many other weekend activities are planned, including pumpkin-pie-eating contests, a costume parade, "pin the tail on the black cat," a haystack full of surprises, pumpkin painting and carving and a scarecrow workshop. A country-folk singer will provide musical entertainment, and there will be two magic shows each day. Pumpkin treats and other foods will be for sale. Admission is $6.50 for adults; $5.50 for senior citizens; $4 for ages 6 to 12. On Saturday children who arrive in costume before 1 p.m. will be admitted free. This re-created pioneer village is on Business U.S. Route 220, one mile north of Bedford. For information, call (800) 622-8005.
Colonial Day at Montpelier Mansion next Sunday allows visitors a glimpse of life during the early days at this Laurel estate. Built in 1783, it was the home of a wealthy Quaker family, Major Thomas Snowden and his wife, Ann Ridgely. George Washington and Abigail Adams were known to have been among their houseguests.
The mansion will be open for tour from noon to 5 p.m. with costumed hostesses in each room to answer questions. Outside on the lawn, re-enactors will play the part of 18th century characters. Revolutionary War soldiers will set up camp and hTC participate in two battle re-enactments. The South River Sutlers will there, along with several Colonial-style craftspeople -- a beekeeper, a soap-maker, weavers and spinners among them -- to demonstrate and sell their wares. You'll also find antique dealers selling 19th century items, and food will be available.
Admission is free, but to tour the mansion there is a charge of $1 for adults and 50 cents for children. Montpelier is at the intersection of state Route 197 and Muirkirk Road in Laurel. For information, call (301) 953-1376.
18th century harvest day
Attend an 18th century harvest day at historic Sully Plantation in Chantilly, Va., today from noon to 5 p.m.
Volunteers in period clothing will demonstrate winter food preparation in the 18th century, and folk artists and craftspeople will demonstrate and sell their traditional crafts on the green. A full schedule of entertainment is planned for every hour on the hour, including performances by the Fairfax Symphony Brass Quintet and folk musicians Hickory Grove. There will also be activities for children, as well as food for sale. The Federal-period mansion, which was the home of Northern Virginia's first congressman, Richard Bland Lee, will be open for tour.
Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for children. Sully is on state Route 28, Sully Road in Chantilly, three-quarters of a mile north of the junction of U.S. Route 50 and state Route 28, and four miles south of the Dulles Toll Road. For information, call (703) 759-5241.