New England in the fall inspires poets, children and everyone inbetween, and our area of Maine is no exception. While the leaves change later in the season down along the coast (check mainefoliage.com for “foliage forecasts”), fall is chock full of family events and activities.
Two local festivals highlight the bounty of locally produced foods and area food heritage. First is the Local Foods Festival on Deer Isle September 28-30. Events include cider pressing, fermentation workshops, chutney and jam demonstrations, a lobster bake, cook book signings, a chance to “Meet a Lobsterman” and a fisheries preservation talk.
The second is Blue Hill’s 7th annual Foliage, Food & Wine Festival, from Oct. 4 to 14. The signature event, “A Taste of the Peninsula,” will take place on Saturday, October 6, at the Mainescape Garden Shop on South Street. There, visitors will find samples from local chefs, a wine and beer tasting, a chowder contest and a farmers’ market. Other events include special lunches and dinners hosted at venues around the Blue Hill Peninsula.
Pumpkins abound at farmers’ markets during the fall months, grown by area farms including Carding Brook Farm in Brooklin, Horsepower Farm and King Hill Farm in Penobscot and Yellow Birch Farm in Deer Isle.
Picking a pumpkin is no easy task, and what to look for in a pumpkin depends on what you want it for. Carving pumpkins are ideally round, uniform in color and without any spots, according to tips from pickyourown.org.
One place to pick-your-own pumpkins is Homewood Farm in Blue Hill. Here, families can wander the pumpkin patch until just the right pumpkin can be found (for those pumpkins less pleasing, there is always the “pumpkin trebuchet,” where pumpkins can be launched far and wide).
Also available at Homewood Farm is a several-acre corn maze. This year, the maze will be in the shape of the farm’s two dogs, Maple and Dot. “It’s a wholesome thing to do with the family,” said farm co-owner Trudy Beardsworth. “Not everyone gets to be out on the farm.”
While there, the family can also enjoy a hayride, culminating in an opportunity to feed the farm’s cows. Homewood Farm is open for family visits Friday-Sunday and on Columbus Day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Apple-picking this year may not be available in all locations. An unusually warm winter has decimated the apple crop along the coast, according to Brooklin’s Five Star Nursery co-owner Leslie Cummins.
When that weather turns and snow is on the ground, how about taking the family on an old-fashioned sleigh ride, pulled by horses across fields, complete with hot chocolate to warm you? If this sounds like an adventure your family would enjoy, contact Paul Birdsall at Horsepower Farm in Penobscot to arrange a sleigh ride.