Pick a pumpkin or another of these quintessential fall activities
Whatever your favorite thing about fall, this is the year to come back to it.
Last year, the state still enforced restrictions on outdoor gatherings, which meant high school fairs and football games, among others, were canceled. But with many people vaccinated against COVID-19, those restrictions have been lifted, even though the number of cases is still relatively high.
The bottom line is that almost anything you love to do in fall in Maine is available to you this year. Hiking and biking in the crisp fall air amidst colorful foliage as a backdrop are always options, but so are age-old fall traditions like high school football games. or the performance of a marching band. Farms statewide are open for pumpkin and apple picking, and many feature corn mazes and other fall frolics.
Here are some ideas for doing something fun this fall in your spare time.
A LABYRINTH TIME
Corn mazes appear on farms all around Maine this time of year. This is part of a trend that has been going on for quite some time now, where farmers are offering family activities to get people to come and pick and buy their harvest. So if just picking up a bag of apples or a large carving pumpkin seems boring to kids, tell them to get lost – in a corn maze.
People probably love corn mazes because they are mysterious, and some are large enough to keep you looking for the exit for a while. The Ricker Hill Orchards Corn Maze in Turner is designed so that a family of four can navigate their way in about half an hour, according to the farm’s website. Pumpkin Valley Farm in Dayton is celebrating 20 years of corn mazes this year, with a design of a donkey named Moses. Of course, you have to be in the air to clearly see the image. McDougal Orchards in Springvale offers weekend cart rides and a corn maze, but they ask you to make a reservation if you want to go out and pick fruit on the weekends.
ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM
OK, so you’re not in high school anymore. That doesn’t mean you can’t cheer on your hometown team or any team. This can be a really fun way to spend a cool Friday night or Saturday afternoon, watching the action on a field against the backdrop of colorful foliage. Plus, there’s something exciting about watching young people play for the love of the game, as opposed to watching the pros on TV with their salaries in the millions. And any popcorn, hot dogs, or candy you buy is usually used to support the team, school, or some other good cause.
This weekend’s Friday night games include South Portland at Noble at North Berwick, Marshwood at Deering in Portland and Biddeford at Portland. Some of the Saturday games this week include York at Fryeburg Academy and Hampden Academy at Westbrook. Check out a full range of games each week on VarsityMaine.com or check your local high school’s website or Facebook page for specific times, admission price (if applicable), and other details.
ON THE ROAD ONE PIECE
Hiking, or just a leisurely stroll, is especially satisfying in the fall. You can see beautiful colors and you look fresh to keep from sweating. Those looking for an easy fall walk with scenic water views don’t have to venture far from Portland; in fact, they can simply cross the Casco Bay Bridge to the South Portland Greenbelt Walkway. From Mill Creek Park, you can follow the walkway along the harbor, overlooking the Portland waterfront. Within a few miles you are at Bug Light Park, where you can see Portland Breakwater Light, also known as Bug Light. Continue walking along the water to the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, which you can reach by crossing a 900 foot flat stone breakwater.
If you want more woodland hiking options, check out the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry website for recommendations on state parks and public lands. Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal has a steep but quick quarter-mile trail to the top, with great views, down to the ocean on a clear day. Camden Hills State Park allows you to hike or drive to the top and has spectacular ocean views. The Portland Trails website has maps and descriptions of walking and hiking trails throughout the city and beyond. A hidden “gem” is the Fore River Sanctuary Trail in Portland, which leads to Jewell Falls, the city’s only waterfall.
DRINK A LITTLE PLEASURE
Another fall tradition around Maine is watching high school marching band competitions. Instead of waiting until half-time for a football match to hear the band play, attend a marching band competition, where you will do nothing but listen to blaring and energetic music. Plus, these uniforms and big hats are pretty spectacular. Some of the upcoming fanfare competitions will be at Biddeford High School on October 16, Marshwood High School in South Berwick on October 23, and the fall season finals on October 30 at Sanford High School. For more information, visit the Maine Band Director’s Association website at mebda.org.
Finding a pumpkin patch is pretty easy in Maine, or at least a farm or roadside stand where you can find pumpkins for sale. One place to go is the aforementioned Pumpkin Valley Farm, but there are several more. You can go to the Maine Department of Agriculture’s “Real Maine” website and search for the word “pumpkin” to find places near you. The Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport is running their Pumpkin Patch Trolley rides this weekend, through Monday. You can drive a vintage cart to the pumpkin patch, pick up a pumpkin, and enjoy the rest of the cart ride. The cost is $ 2 to $ 11.50 for children and $ 14 for adults. For more information, visit trolleymuseum.org.
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