For many folks, the crisp, cool days of fall and a riot of color in the woods mean one thing: It's time for a Western Maryland getaway.
This autumn, however, people headed for the mountains will find a lot more to do than look at the trees.
Fall festivals throughout Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties offer visitors everything from demonstrations of old steam equipment to air shows, and all the events include a backdrop of blazing fall colors.
ZTC "Garrett County in the fall is one of my favorite places on this planet," says Mianna Jopp of Severna Park. "And the Autumn Glory Festival is wonderful. It has everything -- including an incredible parade with clowns, floats and marching bands."
* The 26th Autumn Glory Festival takes place in downtown Oakland and surrounding areas Oct. 14-17. More than 50,000 people are expected to attend this year's celebration.
"The festival is in a wonderful location and takes place at a wonderful time of the year," says Ms. Jopp, who makes the drive to Garrett County every fall. "There are concerts, fiddle and banjo competitions, bluegrass music and lots of things to see and do."
This year's four-day festival will include a new event: the Gortner Fly-In Oct. 17. "It's an air show featuring sky diving, a candy drop for the kids, aerobatics and entertainment," says Diane Wolfe, executive director of the Deep Creek Lake-Garrett County Promotion Council. "It's a day and evening of things to do."
Other festivities include the Autumn Glory Grand Feature Parade Oct. 16, concerts by country singer Ricky Skaggs Oct. 15, a crafts show Oct. 16 and 17, banjo and fiddle championships Oct. 16 and a bagpipe concert Oct. 17. Call (301) 334-1948.
* In Washington County, some 60,000 people are expected to attend the 19th Smithsburg Steam and Craft Show Sept. 25-26. Old steam engines operating tractors, rock grinders and a sawmill will be displayed, as well as crafts, a flea market and lots of down-home food.
Admission is free; hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Smithsburg is about 10 miles from Hagerstown on Route 66. Call (301) 824-2491.
* Railfest '93, a celebration of Maryland railroading, takes place in Cumberland from Oct. 23 through Oct. 31.
Train excursions through the nearby mountains of Maryland and West Virginia are expected to draw about 20,000 people this year. But that's not all Railfest '93 offers.
"Artrain," an art museum housed in five railroad passenger cars, features an exhibition called "The Romance of Transportation." Kids will enjoy Thomas the Tank Engine and a ride pulled by a reduced-scale steam engine. More events scheduled during the nine-day festival include a fiddle contest, bingo and the Phillips Seafood Tent.
Prices for the train rides range from $20 to $48 per person; adults who buy tickets before Oct. 15 can save a few dollars per ticket. Call (800) 872-4650.
* Aficionados of handmade arts and crafts should circle the weekend of Oct. 9-10 on their calendars, for the 30th Catoctin Colorfest in Thurmont in Frederick County.
"Basically, we're an arts and crafts show with 350 stands," says Colorfest president Beverly Zienda. "Admission is free. We expect to draw about 100,000 people this year."
While Ms. Zienda says some entertainment is offered during the two-day event, the emphasis is on crafts. "Plus, it's a fall-foliage atmosphere. The mountains are all around."
Colorfest runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Parking is $2, which includes shuttle-bus service into town. Call (301) 271-4432.
* Everybody loves a parade. And nobody should miss this one: the 69th annual Alsatia Mummers Parade in Hagerstown Oct. 30.
"We figure it's the biggest nighttime parade east of the Mississippi," says parade secretary Kathie Stouffer. "We get about 175,000 people along the route. The parade features about 200 units, 30-some bands, costumed characters and commercial floats like the ones you see in New York and Philadelphia."
The parade, which runs north to south along Potomac Street in Hagerstown, kicks off at 7 p.m. and ends at 11 p.m. Folks can watch the parade for free anywhere along the route. For information on $5 reserved seats, call (301) 791-7151.
* Rose Hill Manor's Fall Festival Oct. 2-3 in Frederick is an authentic farm festival held on the grounds of a manor built in the 1790s. The estate features an ice house, blacksmith shop, carriage museum, farm buildings and a historic garden.
The two-day festival offers visitors old-time entertainment such as hayrides, wheat-thrashing demonstrations, manor-house tours, storytelling, apple-butter boiling, a children's pedal-tractor pull and craft demonstrations and sales.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission to the grounds is free; some exhibits request a donation. Call (301) 694-1648.
* American Indians and non-Indians alike won't want to miss the Second Native American Pow-Wow in Hagerstown Oct. 15-17.
"It's an opportunity . . . to learn more about Indian culture in a non-threatening way," explains organizer Barry Richardson. "The pow-wow features Indian dancers, singers, food vendors and arts and crafts for sale. It's also an international event, with Indians from Mexico, South America and Canada."
The pow-wow, which takes place at Hagerstown Junior College, runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Advance tickets for the pow-wow are $5 for adults and $3 for children under 12 and senior citizens. Tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for children and senior citizens at the door. Call (800) 228-7829.
* Catoctin Zoological Park in Thurmont welcomes little ghosts and goblins at the "Boo in the Zoo" Oct. 28-31. Children 2 through 12 roam candle-lighted paths to visit a creepy-crawly tunnel, a hay maze, a bat cave and a troll bridge -- and pick up treats along the way.
"It's a non-scary experience," says Carole Brown, special-events director for the non-profit park. "Parents can check out all the exhibits first."
Boo in the Zoo starts each evening at 6:30 and ends at 8:30. Admission is $4.50 per person, adults and children. Call (301) 271-7488.