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Welcome to the Fall Foliage and Festival Report for the last weekend of summer, Sept. 21 and 22, brought to you by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Having melted down almost daily through a typically hot and humid — and exceptionally wet — Maryland summer, you just might be looking forward to the official astronomical start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere: the autumnal, or fall, equinox (also called the September equinox). Early Monday morning — 3:50 a.m. in Annapolis — the sun will rise precisely due east and later will set precisely due west with the length of day and night almost equal. This is also the best time to view Mars as the planet will be at its brightest. Join the Westminster Astronomy Club at Cunningham Falls State Park Saturday night to see the stars!
Sign up to receive weekly reports showcasing the Old Line State’s vibrant fall foliage and the best autumn festivals at dnr.maryland.gov.
Signs of fall at Mt. Nebo Wildlife Management Area, by Melissa Nash of the Maryland Forest Service.
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. “More trees are starting to join in as the lush green of summer begins to fade,” reports Forester Melissa Nash. “Maples are turning yellow to red and birch and basswood are beginning to yellow. It’s a slow start, but will be on the increase as we officially welcome fall next week!”
Dan Hedderick, a project forester based in Flintstone, is seeing a 30% color change all along Interstate 68, with various shades of yellow offering just a preview of the autumn glory to come.
Traditionally it is the region where leaf color changes first, with Garrett County’s foliage beginning to turn around the end of September and peaking toward the middle of October.
While seasons do not always begin and end on time, and the most dramatic fall foliage changes are still a few weeks away, this is a perfect weekend to experience exciting fall festivals and outdoor events.
While in Western Maryland, check out The Great Frederick Fair, now through Sunday. Visit the carnival midway, take in nightly grandstand entertainment and see award-winning agricultural exhibits.
Choptank Heritage Skipjack Race
The Eastern Shore will be hopping this weekend. Now through Sunday at the Inlet Parking Lot, the very popular Ocean City Sunfest 2019 brings family fun-filled days with music, food, arts and crafts. Entertainment is free (except headline acts). In nearby Berlin enjoy fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin and bluegrass band competitions at the Berlin Fiddler’s Convention, with free live bluegrass music on Main Street from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In Dorchester County, Cambridge will host the Choptank Heritage Skipjack Race Saturday — including a parade at 9 a.m. and race at 10 a.m. Everyone is invited to see these historic boats this Saturday.
Not to be outdone in southern Maryland, the St. Mary’s County Fair celebrates rural and agricultural heritage at the ever-popular fairgrounds now through Sunday. Exhibits, livestock, home arts, flowers, 4-H exhibits, horse pulls, and carnival and local foods will on be on display in Leonardtown.
Militia Muster – St. Mary’s City
The St. Maries Citty Militia musters for drills, mock battles, and camp life on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Visit an encampment, march along, watch a musket fire demonstration and more.
Out west, the Hagerstown City Park Fall Festival and Porchfest on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. will feature numerous bands and musicians performing on the porches of homes on historic South Prospect Street, and Bester Community of Hope. Join us for family activities throughout the park including pony rides, Living History, Tommy 202 tractor train and hay wagon rides, arts activities, music and arts entertainment and paddle boats on Hagerstown City Park’s lake!
New this year is a Monarch Butterfly Parade. Children of all ages are invited to come dressed up in a butterfly costume or as any pollinator (bees, birds and bugs) to parade down the Cultural Trail to the Hager House in City Park for an educational and interactive presentation by the Monarch Alliance, in partnership with the Discovery Station. Meet at the Herald Mail Parking Lot, 100 Summit Ave., no later than 10 a.m. Register online for this free event.
Hagerstown City Park Fall Fest
All types of regional music – bluegrass, old-time stringband, Scottish traditional music, Appalachian ballads, acoustic blues, community brass bands, Appalachian traditional and Irish traditional music and dance – arts and crafts, children’s activities, children’s jug band, goat milking, beekeeping and more! And it’s all free at the Frostburg State University Appalachian Festival on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
The Children’s Day Festival is held each year to offer the community a free, active and engaging experience in Montgomery County Parks. Check out children’s games, crafts and education, and live music and explore Brookside Gardens in Wheaton on Saturday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The 27th Annual Poolesville Day Festival on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. is a free event at Whalen Commons in downtown Poolesville, Montgomery County. It will include a parade, free carnival rides, exhibitors, food vendors, activities for all ages and multiple stages featuring live music and entertainment.
Come to Seneca Creek State Park on Sat. from 2-4 p.m. for the Grusendorf Open House, an 1855 log farmhouse and the last surviving building from the original Germantown settlement. Try your hand at an old-time craft: making clay swirl marbles.
Want to learn and enjoy the sport of archery? Stop by the archery range in the Manor Area of Cunningham Falls State Park on Saturday from 10 a.m. — noon! All equipment is provided, cost is $5 per person.
Celebrate International Coastal Clean-Up Day on Saturday by helping us clean up the Sandy Point State Park beach. We recommend bringing work gloves, sunscreen, and water. Shine only. Meet at 8 a.m. You can also stop by our Nature Nook at noon to learn about the effects of plastic pollution on our environment and how you can help eliminate Plastic Problems! On Sun. at 2 p.m. Sandy Point State Park will host Historias en Español (Spanish Story Time). Edades 3-10. ¡Ven a escuchar historias en español! Un intérprete del parque va a leer cuentos clásicos como “El Lorax,” “Un Pez, Dos Peces, Pez Rojo, Pez Azul,” y muchos más! Come along for a Spanish story time! A park interpreter will read classic stories like “The Lorax,” “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,” and more.
For more information or to see a full listing of Maryland Department of Natural Resources events and programs, please check out our online calendar.
Enjoy your last summer weekend, Maryland!
P.S. It’s never too early to make plans to attend the Autumn Glory Festival in Oakland. The 52nd annual festival will be held Oct. 9 – 13. Click here for this year’s brochure and watch for updates from the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce.
“Autumn has caught us in our summer wear.”
– Philip Larkin, British poet (1922–86)