If you haven't already, get aboard a hay wagon and take a ride into
another world this fall. "People come off the highway and come into our
world-where time stops," said Susan Cox, who owns Spider Hall Farm in
Calvert County with her husband David.
"Mothers and fathers holding their children on the hayride get time to
stop," said Susan Cox, explaining that once on the farm, they are not
racing to meet a deadline or to get to a sports practice. "They can
relax a little bit," she said.
Two years ago, the Coxes joined a growing group of Southern Maryland
farmers who have begun agritourism activities such as fall corn mazes,
pumpkin patches and hayrides. While the Coxes are choosing a laid-back
approach, Tommy and Tina Bowles have spared no expense at their farm off
Route 234 in Leonardtown.
The Bowles' 13-acre maze and 15 acres of pumpkins are in addition to
their 6,000-acre farm that produces corn, wheat, beans and grain.
"I get a lot of enjoyment out of it," said Tommy, standing inside a barn
that can hold up to 300 people for school trips and other special
events. "We go a little overboard here, but I want people to have a fun,
The Bowles' A Maze N Place venue includes indoor, air-conditioned
bathrooms and a full kitchen in the event barn and new this year is a
farm store selling refreshments and other small souvenir items.
Agritourism, or the combining of agriculture and tourism activities, is
becoming a popular alternative for farmers in the area, especially those
transitioning out of tobacco or other less profitable crops, said Dr.
Christine Bergmark, executive director of the Southern Maryland
Agricultural Development Commission.
"Southern Maryland is a prime region for agritourism with its proximity
to the greater Washington, D.C. area," said Bergmark. "And, Southern
Maryland has such an incredible beauty and wealth of natural resources."
Forrest Hall Farm in St. Mary's County has long been associated with
Bergmark's agritourism program, "So. Maryland, So Good," which promotes
local agriculture. Mary and Joe Wood, owners of the farm, say they "like
people and were looking for a family-focused project" after taking the
"It's very relaxing here," said Mary of Forrest Hall Farm's bucolic
setting that includes a white picket fence, apple orchard, red farm
store and pond. Mary, who has a number of grandchildren of her own, has
many activities geared to children, including a goat walk, a hay wagon
slide, a grain bin, a maze and hayrides. For the older set, Mary says
the farm organizes a moonlight maze walk and haunted hayrides the
weekend before Halloween.
Perhaps one of the longest-running local fall fests is located on the
scenic Serenity Farm overlooking the Patuxent River. It is well known as
the farm with the pastel-colored barns on Route 231. David Robinson, the
owner's son and an integral part of the farming operation, said they
have tried to diversify their activities at the 300-acre farm.
Serenity Farm's Kasper's Kastle, which is contained in a large metal
barn, is unique in that the themed rooms feature popular children's
characters such as Snow White, Superman, Big Bird and Elmo. A day at the
farm includes a tour of the castle, a hayride, and a visit to the
Ultimately, whichever farm you visit, you'll find each with its own
unique flavor and calming surroundings.
The Making of a Corn Maze
Southern Maryland corn mazes come in many sizes and designs. In fact,
most farms create elaborate themed designs each year. Tommy and Tina
Bowles' A Maze N Place will feature a "Save the Bay" theme to educate
visitors about what many farms do to protect the fragile condition of
the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding waterways.
"Often, if something goes wrong in the Bay, farmers get blamed," said
Tommy Bowles. However, he said that farms like his go out of their way
to use environmentally friendly techniques such as grass buffers, cover
crops, and often use bio-fuels such as ethanol.
After a theme is selected, a design must be created and then graphed out
and marked in the field, said Bowles. While some farms, such as Forrest
Hall, mark and cut their own mazes, others, such as the Bowles' hire
professional maze cutters. Either way, the mazes are typically cut while
the corn is still young (perhaps one foot tall) by using riding lawn
"This is just as much a challenge as any other crop," said Bowles,
adding that weather affects the maze just like any other crop. In 2003,
the Bowles lost their corn maze to both a tornado and a hurricane. "We
had to replant and re-grow it."
Farms for fall fun
Spider Hall Farm
3915 Hallowing Point Road, Prince Frederick, MD 20678
(410) 535-5819, (301) 904-8260;
Halloween/fall season events, corn maze, hay rides, pumpkin patch and
P.O. Box 784, Bryantown, MD 20617
(240) 216-4065; (240) 216-4067; Email:
Halloween activities, mazes, hayrides, petting farm, school tours. NOTE:
Due to Zekiah Farms' site relocation, their fall activities will not be
held; visit them at their new location in spring '07.
Middleton's Cedar Hill Farm
13290 Cedar Hill Place, Waldorf, MD 20601
(301) 645-8464 or (301) 399-9812;
Fall season events, petting farm, pony and hayrides, pumpkin patch, and
fall decorative items for sale.
6932 Serenity Farm Road, Benedict, MD 20612
(301) 274-3829, (301) 399-1629 or (301) 399-1634; Web:
Field days, Halloween events, petting farm, Kasper's Kastle, pumpkin
patch, and school tours.
St. Mary's County
Bowles Farms - A Maze N Place
22880 Budds Creek Road, Clements, MD 20624
(301) 475-2139; Email: email@example.com;
Pumpkin patch, petting zoo, hayrides, picnic area, food for sale, events
and festivities, personalized events in barn, fall season events, and
Halloween mazes (mini-straw maze).
Forrest Hall Farm
39136 Avie Lane, Mechanicsville, MD 20659
(301) 884-3086; Web:
Fall season events, Halloween activities, corn maze, school tours,
produce and crafts for sale.
T & A Farm
18281 St. Jerome's Neck Road, Dameron, MD 20628
(301) 872-5003; Email: TandAFarm@aol.com
Halloween events, pumpkin patch and school tours.
Fall and Halloween Events
Sleepy Hollow presented by Theatre IV at the College of Southern
Maryland's Fine Arts Center, La Plata. 7:30 p.m. $12. 301-934-7828;
OCTOBER 13 & 14, 20-21
"THE SPIRITS OF ZEKIAH SWAMP" GHOST WALK. The Izaak Walton
League's Southern Maryland Chapter- a few miles from Waldorf, at the end
of Gardiner Road. 6:30-9:30 p.m. The IWL offers a less scary version,
Fright Light, every night from 6:30-7:30 p.m. If younger groups come
through later in the evening, actors will be alerted by radio to lighten
the fright. Call 301-932-3787;
Ghosts of Sotterley Plantation. Hollywood, Route 242. 7-10:50
p.m. Walking tour featuring re-created legends and history, live music.
Refreshments available. Reservations required. 301-373-2280.
Halloween Bash. Huntington Community Center, Waldorf. 5-9 p.m.
Free Halloween party for local children sponsored by Charles County
Children's Aid Society. Reservations required. 301-645-1561.
CSM's Haunted Stage. Fine Arts Center, College of Southern
Maryland, La Plata Campus. 5-7 p.m. Find a number of spooky scenes
around a series of twists and turns on CSM's stage. $5. 301-934-7828;
Infant Halloween Party. Calvert County Parks & Recreation -
South, Lusby. 10:30-11:15 a.m. Calling all little pumpkins to celebrate
Halloween with games, pumpkin decorating, a costume contest and snacks.
Come dressed in costume. Adult participation required. 410-586-1101. $
Toddler Halloween Party. Calvert County Parks & Recreation-South,
Lusby. 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Calling all ghost and goblins to enjoy
games, crafts, refreshments and fun. Come dressed in costume.
Pumpkin Painting. Calvert County Parks & Recreation - South,
Lusby. 10:00 -10:45 a.m. Bring a pumpkin and we supply the paint and
decorations to make a pumpkin uniquely your own. Pumpkins will be judged
and prizes awarded. 410-586-1101.
Spirits of Point Lookout. Point Lookout State Park, Route 5. 7
p.m. Historically representative event featuring some of Point Lookout's
many legendary tragedies and hauntings. Interactive tours, music,
concessions, and children's games. Advance purchase. HC. 888-316-5679.
Trick-Or-Treat on the Square. Washington Street, Leonardtown,
Route 5. 1-4 p.m. Free trick-or-treating with Leonardtown merchants
around the Town Square and scarecrow making. HC. 301-475-9791.
Annmarie Garden's Halloween in the Garden. Solomons. 11 a.m.-4
p.m. Dress the family and bring the kids to this safe daytime
trick-or-treating event. Local businesses and organizations set up
booths along AMG's wooded pathway and hand out treats to passersby. Food
and art activities as well. 410-326-4640. $
Annual Children's Halloween Party. Village Green Pavilion, Indian
Head. 6-8 p.m. Costume parade, pumpkin patch, hay rides, prizes & food.
Children up to 12 years of age welcome, but must be accompanied by an
adult. 301-743-5574; 301-753-6633;
Monster Mash Cruise. Calvert Marine Museum, Solomons. 4:30
p.m.-5:30 p.m.; 4:40-5:30 (family cruise). Special kids' cruise aboard
the Wm. B. Tennison. Wear a costume. An adult must accompany children.
Reservations required. 410-326-2042. $