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Fall Foliage and Festival Report: September 23-24

Map with leaves marking events

Welcome to the Fall Foliage and Festival Report for the weekend of Sept. 23 and 24, brought to you by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Office of Tourism.

It’s official! It’s autumn in Maryland.

When this weekend rolls in, thoughts will begin to turn to the sights, sounds and scents of the season: fan-filled football stadiums, bright orange pumpkins, cinnamon and cider warming on the stove and the welcomed return of Canada geese.

Apple Press at Steppingstone Museum

Apple Press at Steppingstone Museum

The most obvious indicator of autumn’s arrival, the changing of the foliage, is still a few weeks away for most of the state; however, in western Maryland, pockets are starting to show splotches of brilliant color. Reports in from Garrett, Allegany, Washington and Frederick County indicate color change just beginning at the higher levels, with patches of bold reds and oranges on maples a preview of the natural show to come.

The leaves of black walnuts and birch are turning yellow, and those of black gums and dogwoods are red. Traditionally it’s the region where leaf color changes are seen first, with Garrett County’s foliage beginning to turn around the end of September and peaking toward the middle of October.

Colorful changes in goldenrod and iron weed in the farm valleys are also signaling the changing season.

The shorter, cooler days that accompany these spectacular seasonal changes offer the perfect opportunity for everyone to go outside and experience some of our state’s exciting fall activities and festivals.

Sign up today to receive weekly reports showcasing the Old Line State’s vibrant fall foliage and the best autumn festivals or call 800-LEAVES1.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is sponsoring its very popular National Hunting and Fishing Day Saturday at the Izaak Walton League of America in Washington County. Admission is free for the entire family.

Celebrate Farm Heritage Days in Howard County this weekend (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.), with a Rodeo Extravaganza, farm animals and equipment, and great food and entertainment for all.

Harvest Moon, Photo by C. D. Muth

Harvest Moon, Photo by C. D. Muth

In the Washington, D.C. area Saturday (noon-6 p.m.) the Downtown Hyattsville Arts Festival will showcase more than 100 talented artisans in the region accompanied by musicians, dancers and street performers. The event is free and family-friendly.

On the Eastern Shore, head to Queen Anne’s County Saturday for the Centreville Farmers’ Market (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.). Pickup your favorite fall fruit and produce, including apples, peaches, pears and sweet potatoes.

If you’re heading out into the Piedmont this weekend, stop by the Westminster Fallfest (Sept. 21-24), Carroll County’s largest community charity event. This picturesque town will be full of good old-fashioned fun, including a one-mile run, car show, bingo, karaoke and pie eating contests, carnival rides, food and evening musical entertainment.

On the “Top of the Bay,” the Fall Harvest Festival will be going this weekend at the Steppingstone Museum in Susquehanna State Park in Harford County. It features craft booths, scarecrow making, pumpkin painting, apple bobbing, cider pressing, apple butter making, hay rides, petting zoo, Punch & Judy and magic shows, bluegrass and historic tours.

Just before or after your visit to Steppingstone, head off the beaten path on the Lower Susquehanna Scenic Byway, a 33-mile mix of local and state roads from Havre de Grace to Perryville.

In Southern Maryland, celebrate agricultural and rural heritage at the St. Mary’s County Fair (Sept. 21-24), an old-fashioned, family-style event in Leonardtown. Exhibits, livestock, home arts, flowers, 4-H & school exhibits, horse pulls, carnival, and plenty of arts and crafts.

On Sunday, you can take a relaxing 45-minute “Autumn Pontoon” ride out on Clopper Lake in Seneca Creek State Park in Montgomery County. The ride will focus on the nearby foliage and animal adaptions as the weather cools. Please be sure to call ahead or email to reserve your spot on the Blue Heron.

And if you’re not quite ready for the changing season, remember summer lasts longer in Ocean City! So grab your bathing suits, kids and bicycles and head “Downey Ayshin.” Enjoy four days of family fun, arts, crafts, live music and more at Sunfest, “Maryland’s biggest and best festival.”

For more information or to see a full listing of Maryland Department of Natural Resources events and programs, please check out our new interactive calendar. For more information on events around the state this fall, please visit the Maryland Office of Tourism. Enjoy your Maryland weekend!

For the Autumn Solstice

“I am rich today with autumn’s gold,
All that my covetous hands can hold;
Frost-painted leaves and goldenrod,
A goldfinch on a milkweed pod,
Huge golden pumpkins in the field
With heaps of corn from a bounteous yield,

Golden apples heavy on the trees
Rivaling those of Hesperides,
Golden rays of balmy sunshine spread
Over all like butter on warm bread;
And the harvest moon will this night unfold
The streams running full of molten gold.
Oh, who could find a dearth of bliss
With autumn glory such as this!”

– Gladys Harp

Gather about 10 common natural objects such as rocks, seeds, conifer cones, plant parts, feathers and other things you would find in your back yard. Lay the objects out on a bandana and cover them with another bandana. Gather the children around and tell them: “Under this cloth are 10 natural objects that you will be able to find in this area. I will lift the cloth for 25 seconds so you can take a good look and try to remember everything you see.”