In the middle of this year's long, hot, dry summer, fall seemed just a mirage. The cool breezes of day, the crisp nights: During the summer's drought, it was difficult to believe they would ever come.
But lo and behold, the calendar shows that fall returns on Monday. Now we here at LIVE! don't have any control over the weather, so we can't promise that cooler temperatures or rain will arrive immediately. However, we can offer something that will put you in the spirit of fall quicker than you can say "apple pie."
How about a roundup of fall festivals, from all around the state?
There are pumpkins to be painted and scarecrows to be stuffed. Apple dumplings to be savored and cider to be sipped.
You can try your hand at traditional crafts, take a hayride or a tractor ride, wander through a corn maze, and add to your seasonal decor by purchasing craft items. Your kids can pet small animals, get their faces painted, play old-fashioned games and enjoy modern diversions like amusement rides.
Keep this calendar handy and it'll keep you busy for weekends to come. With some careful planning, you'll have plenty of opportunity to bask in autumn's glory.
11th annual Union Bridge Fall Fest. Lehigh Cement Company Park, 115 S. Main St., Union Bridge. Benefit auction to help pay town hall-mortgage, tours of state-of-the-art cement plant, music, crafts, children's games and food. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. Call 410-775-7400.
Elkton Fall Fest. Main Street, Elkton. Motorcycle show, car show, juried art exhibit, entertainment, "Pretty Baby" contest, children's activities, rides, crafts and food. 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Free; nominal fee for some activities. Call 410-620-7964.
Family Fall Festival. William Paca House and Garden, 186 Prince George St., Annapolis. Historic characters in authentic costume will demonstrate how families in the 18th century prepared for winter. Hands-on activities, including cider-pressing, apple-bobbing and gourd-decorating. Noon-5 p.m. $5-$8 house admission includes festival. Free for age 6 and under. Call 410-267-6719.
Highlandtown Fall Fest. Conkling Street and Eastern Avenue. Music, food, crafts and flea market booths, art by Creative Alliance members, medical screenings, children's activities and rides. 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Free; nominal fees for rides. Call 410-276-4780.
Westminster Fall Fest. Also, Sept. 26-29. Downtown off Main Street, near Longwell Avenue. Rides, games, crafts and food. All proceeds go to Westminster-area charities. Parade only, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Sept. 25. Open 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Sept. 26, 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Sept. 27, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sept. 28 and noon-6 p.m. Sept. 29. Free; fee for games and rides. Call 410-848-9393.
Apple Festival. Piney Run Park, 30 Martz Road, Sykesville. Pontoon-boat rides, music, hayrides, crafts, children's activities including candlemaking and pumpkin-painting, apple dishes and other foods. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Park admission $4-$5 per vehicle; nominal fee for some activities. Call 410-795-6043.
Fall Festival. Clynmalira United Methodist Church, Old York and Stockton roads, Phoenix. Flea market and crafts, bake sale, music, carnival games and food, including homemade apple dumplings with ice cream. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. Call 410-472-2519.
Fall Festival. Also, Sept. 29, Oct. 5-6, 12-13, 19-20. Homestead Gardens, 743 W. Central Ave., Davidsonville. Llama barn, American Indian drum circle, U.S. Fish and Wildlife migratory bird seminar, straw maze, beekeeping demonstrations, live music, product demonstrations, fall plants and food. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. all days. Free; nominal fee for some activities. Schedule of events varies, call 410-798-5000 to check.
Family Fall Festival. Emmanuel (Baust) United Church of Christ, 2950 Old Taneytown Road, north of Westminster. Pancake breakfast and other food, kids' activities, petting zoo and crafts. Free. 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Call 410-756-4335.
Rock Hall Fallfest. Main Street and Sharp Street Pier. Crafts, food, children's activities, band music and traditional watermen's arts, including an oyster-shucking contest. Festival opens at 9 a.m. Concert 8 p.m., dance at volunteer fire company hall 9 p.m. Free admission; tickets to concert and dance extra. Call 410-778-0416.
Old Bowie Antiques and Craft Fall Fling Street Fest. Route 564 and Chestnut Avenue, Bowie. About 100 antiques, collectibles and crafts booths, entertainment, kids' activities, birds-of-prey show, tours of railroad museum and food. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free; nominal fee for some activities. Call 301-262-3743.
Bazaar and Country Fair. Pickersgill Retirement Community, 615 Chestnut Ave., Towson. Bluegrass music, petting zoo, clown, face-painting, seasonal produce and baked goods, flea market and more. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Free. Call 410-842-0420.
Darlington Apple Festival. Shuresville Road and Route 161, 15 miles north of Bel Air. Entertainment, art, crafts, kids' activities, farmers' market, featuring apples, mums, pumpkins and more. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free; nominal fee for some kids' activities. Call 410-457-4189.
Harvest Festival. Agriculture History Farm Park, 18400 Muncaster Road, Derwood. Storytelling, sheep-shearing, hands-on activities, including traditional crafts such as butter-making and chestnut-roasting, plant clinic, sack races, hay maze, demonstrations of antique farm machinery, music and food. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. $5 parking fee; nominal fee for some activities. Call 301-924-4141. In case of inclement weather, call 301-721-0312.
21st annual Honey Harvest Festival. Also, Oct. 6. Oregon Ridge Nature Center, 13555 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville. Beehive and honey-extraction demonstrations, mead-making, spinning, blacksmithing, bake sale, hayrides and kids' activities. Food includes honey-flavored ice cream. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 5. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 6. Free. Call 410-887-1815.
Hurlock Fall Festival. Hurlock Train Station, Charles and Gay streets. Hourlong scenic ride on antique train, parade, carnival, entertainment, crafts and food. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Free with nominal fee for some activities. Call 410-943-4406.
Fall Craft Show. Also, Oct. 6. Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds, off Route 450 on Route 178, Crownsville. More than 100 crafts booths, kids' activities, garden-tractor pulls and antique-tractor pulls. Sponsored by the Anne Arundel County Fair. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. both days. Free admission to craft fair; $5 per person for tractor pulls. Call 410-923-3400.
Fall Harvest Days. Also, Oct. 6. Carroll County Farm Museum, 200 S. Center St., Westminster. Apple-butter boil, scarecrow-making, tractor- and mule-pulled rides, puppet show, 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.
Farm Museum Fall Festival. Also, Oct. 6. Children's Museum at Rose Hill Manor Park and adjacent Frederick County Farm Museum, 1611 N. Market St., Frederick. Traditional arts, including soap-making, butchering and broom-making. Hayrides, animals, games, crafts for kids, museum tours and food. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 5. Noon-4 p.m. Oct. 6. $1 per car; hayrides and children's crafts for nominal fee. Call 301-694-1650.
Festival on the Ridge. Also, Oct. 6. Downtown Mount Airy. Scarecrow-stuffing, hayrides, live music, crafts and food. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 5. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 6. Free. Call 301-829-1424 or 410-795-6012.
Maryland Mountain Festival. Also, Oct. 6. Lynfield Event Complex, Route 15 at Hansonville Road, north of Frederick. Juried arts and crafts, artisan demonstrations, entertainment, kids' crafts, food, mums and pumpkins galore. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 5. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 7. Admission $2.50-$5. Fee for some kids' activities. Call 301-898-5466.
22nd annual Pumpkin Festival. Also, Oct. 6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27. Butler's Orchard, 22200 Davis Mill Road, Germantown. Pony rides, hayloft-jumping, straw maze, live animals, crafts, entertainment, pumpkins and other fruit, plants and food. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. all days. Fees for some activities. Call 301-972-3299.
Sykesville Fall Festival. Main Street, Sykesville. Train rides, games for kids, art, crafts, antiques, live entertainment, tours of the town's historic gatehouse museum, food. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. Call 410- 795-3322.
35th annual Autumn Glory Festival. Also, Oct. 10-13. Downtown Oakland and surrounding areas, off Route 219. Two parades, chair-lift rides, state fiddle and banjo championships, organ recital, tall-tale festival, 5K run/walk, corn maze, bingo, car show, golf tournament, tour of glass-blowing factory, tour of log homes, collectibles show/sale, commemorative pictorial cancellation of cards and letters brought to Oakland post office, Oktoberfest celebration and food for every appetite. Fee for some events. Call 301-387-4386.
Catoctin Colorfest. Also, Oct. 13. Held at the community park, activities grounds and middle school in Thurmont, off Route 15 north. "The sale to end all sales" spread over a half-mile area. More than 375 juried crafts exhibitors and an additional 600 yard-sale vendors offering flea-market items, collectibles, crafts, clothing and antiques. Lunch platters and other food for sale. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. Parking at Catoctin High School for $2-$5. Call 301-271-4432.
Fall Fest. North Point State Park, 9000 Bayshore Road, Edgemere. Fund-raiser for park's volunteer association. Silent auction, hayrides, scarecrow-making, children's games, crafts and food. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $2. Call 410-477-0757.
Pleasant Valley Fall Fest. Pleasant Valley Fire Hall, 2030 S. Pleasant Valley Road, north of Westminster. Flea market, crafts, fall plants, hayrides, silent auction, family activities and food. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. Call 410-848-5163.
Pumpkin Fest 2002. Irvine Nature Center, 8400 Greenspring Ave., Stevenson. Nature hikes, live animal, music, kids' activities, including storytelling and scarecrow-making, food. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $8 per car; nominal fees for some crafts. Call 410-484-2413.
Apple Butter Boil. Piney Creek Church of the Brethren, 4699 Teeter Road, Taneytown. Old-fashioned apple-butter boil. Apple butter, other apple foods and lunch platters for sale. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. Call 410-756-2820.
Apple Festival. Meadow Branch Church of the Brethren, 818 Old Taneytown Road, Westminster. Apple-butter boil. Apple and nonapple foods, crafts and entertainment. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. Call 410-848-3631.
5th annual "Festifall" Family Harvest Festival. Cylburn Arboretum, 4915 Greenspring Ave., Baltimore. Square dancing, hayrides, petting farm, music, cake walk and more. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $2 parking fee. Call 410-367-2217.
Fall Fest. Martinak State Park, off Route 404, Denton. Children's games, pumpkin-decorating, apple-butter boil, crafts, music and food. Noon-5 p.m. Free; nominal fees for some children's activities. Call 410-820-1668.
Hereford Fall Fest and Wine Festival. Hereford Volunteer Fire Company, 510 Monkton Road, Hereford. Tasting of wines bottled by area vineyards and an appearance by wine expert Robert Parker Jr. Family activities and Black Stallion Monster Truck. Fire company fund-raiser. $5-$10 admission, under 12 free. Nominal fee for some activities. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Call 410-887-1934 or 410-357-4443.
Annual Autumn Craft Festival. Downs Park, 8311 John Downs Loop, Pasadena. More than 70 crafts vendors, children's costume contest, pumpkin-painting and scarecrow-making, food. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Free; nominal fee for kids' activities. Call 410-222-6230.
Pumpkin Pastimes - An Old Fashioned Harvest Festival. The Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument St., Baltimore. A celebration of both harvest and Halloween. Make harvest crafts. Come in costume as your favorite historical (or other) character. 1 p.m.-4 p.m. $7 per person; reservations recommended. Call 410-685-3750, Ext. 329.
Sunday in the Park. Centennial Park South, off Route 108, Columbia. Food, puppet shows, carousel, worm races, pumpkin patch, scarecrow-making. Tom Sawyer's Adventures area brings Twain's famous book to life. Visitors can wander through a cave maze and help whitewash a fence. 1 p.m.-5 p.m. $10 per car; nominal fee for some activities. Call 410-313-7275. In case of inclement weather, call 410-313-4451.