There’s no better time than autumn to live in the Mid-Atlantic region. The trees are changing color, bringing leaf-peepers out in full force. Farmers are harvesting the last of the season’s crops, ushering in applefests and pumpkin picking parties of every kind. The weather is cooling, and there’s a lot of fun left to be had for those not quite ready to welcome winter.
While you can’t throw a stone without hitting an autumn event, I’ve listed a few that stand out.
Leaf-peepers from all over the region visit the Bedford Fall Foliage Festival, which takes place over two weekends in October in Bedford, PA. This year’s event, which falls on Oct. 1-2 and 8-9, features more than 400 craft booths, music all day long and so much food—including gourmet root beer! This is the 52nd year for the fair, which takes up a few city blocks. While you’re in town, make sure to also visit the Fort Bedford Museum as well as check out Dunkle’s Gulf station—a great example of Art Deco architecture.
If you like music, you can head to Virginia or West Virginia to hear some authentic tunes while celebrating traditional ways of life. The Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, now in its 43rd year, is considered a "real roots celebration," and includes local crafts, four music and storytelling stages, Blue Ridge Country foods, and sheep herding, coon dog treeing and mule jumping contests. Special music workshops are also offered featuring gospel music and Blue Ridge guitar styles at this one-day festival on Oct. 22 in Ferrum, VA, which is part of the Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail.
The Mountain State Forest Festival, now in its 80th year, is one of the largest and oldest festivals in West Virginia. Held downtown and on the idyllic campus of Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, WV, it offers an eclectic mix of outdoor sporting events (including tree climbing and wood chopping), art and photography competitions, concerts and even a black-tie ball. The festival starts Oct. 1 and runs through Oct. 9, but I’d advise being there the first day for the West Virginia Open Fiddle and Banjo Contest, which has been showcasing local and regional musical talent since the early 1930s.
Speaking of music, The Rehoboth Jazz Festival in Rehoboth, DE, is an amazing event that attracts top-notch talent, which in past years has included Al Jarreau, Boney James, Stanley Jordan, Art Sherrod and Club Phred, among others. Musicians play at venues all over town, from the Cape Henlopen High School to the stage of The Cellar Door Restaurant and unlike at a big-city festival where artists and audiences don’t often get a chance to interact, you can actually get up close and personal with the performers. This year’s line-up includes Grammy Award-winner Patti Austin, and Ramsey Lewes and The After Party, among many other local, regional and national artists appearing around town from Oct. 13-16.
And for those not yet ready to leave the beach behind, the US Oyster Festival in St. Mary’s County, MD, offers visitors a chance to spend just a little more time enjoying nature’s bounty. Held at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds near Leonardtown, the festival, now celebrating its 50th year, includes the US National Oyster Shucking Competition as well as the opportunity to eat oysters in every way imaginable—on the barbie, on bread, on the half shell, stewed, nude, cooked in savory sauces, in salads and even in desserts. Home of the National Oyster Cook-off, the event, which will take place from Oct. 15-16, raises money for local charities.
This is only a sampling of the many events taking place in the mid-Atlantic region in the next month, so hop in your car and hit the road before winter comes roaring in! And if you have a favorite autumn festival, feel free to share it with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear about it!
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