Winterbrook Farms Fall Festival
The days are getting colder, the nights are getting longer, and the sweet scent of pumpkin spice is filling the air.
Fall is upon us, and there is no better way to kick off the new season than by having a blast with friends and family exploring local fall activities.
In Thurmont, a seven-week fall festival filled with good times and good fun beckons the local adventurer. Winterbrook Farms Fall Festival kicked off on September 21 and runs through November 3, giving the community ample time to get into the fall spirit and experience country adventure at its finest.
No matter what you like, there is surely something available for everyone to enjoy. Taylor Huffman has been managing the activities that go on for the Winterbrook Farms Fall Festival for the past eight years. She was happy to shed some insight on what makes this festival so great.
“We have over 20 activities,” Huffman said. “We have the pumpkin jumping pillow, apple cannons, mountain slides, a huge farm animal area, and ziplines. The big hit is actually the round bale rollers; you get in them and roll around like a hamster, and the kids seem to like that.”
The farm does not have any actual hamsters, but it does have a variety of playful and personable animals that aren’t afraid to come right up and say “Hi.” There are long-haired highland cattle, horses, and pigs and baby goats available to feed and spend time with.
One of the most coveted attractions for festival-goers is the tractor rides through the pumpkin patches. Nothing rings in the fall season quite like changing leaves, cooler weather, and pumpkins galore.
The farm features a wide-open space to accommodate guests, with fun things to do scattered throughout the lot. One of the farm’s classic activities is the corn maze, which has become a staple of fall fun for kids and adults alike, and the Winterbrook Farms maze is unique in its own way.
“We have Maryland’s largest corn maze,” Huffman said. “This year, it’s 5.2 miles of trails.” It isn’t the beginning of fall until the corn mazes are up and running, and what better way to spend time with the family than journeying through a maze together to achieve a common goal.
Since the event’s inception in 2000, the expansion has been steady and constant each season. “Year after year, we see growth as we add more activities and grow and change with the times,” Huffman said. “We did a big renovation in 2017, and we added about five acres of grass. On a busy October day, we’ll have about 2,000 people here, so it’s good to have the extra space.”
The farm does bring in people from around the Catoctin area, but the majority of patrons come from well outside Thurmont. “Most of our customers come from Baltimore and northern Virginia, but we’d love to have more locals.”
Bringing in the community to take part in fall festivities is what allows the corn maze, farm animals, and pumpkin patches to flourish year after year. And with continued community support, the events and activities can keep growing and developing as they have over the past two decades.
Though the festival season for Huffman and the crew only lasts a few short months, much more work goes into making Winterbrook Farms Fall Festival operate smoothly than meets the eye.
“This takes us months to prepare for,” Huffman said. “For a solid two months before we open, we’re out here every day, preparing and prepping new things.”
Months of prep work, paired with weeks of maintenance, brings together a product of which Huffman and the crew can be proud. With thousands of people visiting the farms each fall, it seems like all the effort and dedication is well worth putting smiles on the faces of families passing through. It’s not uncommon to hear the laughter of kids rolling around in the bale rollers, or the joy of families bouncing around on the pumpkin pillow. Everywhere you look is something completely different in its own fun way.
In addition to the work put into running the festival each year, big plans are in the works for the end of the season. “This year is the first year we’re hosting the Great Pumpkin Run,” Huffman said. “It’s something they’ve held in Maryland before, but it was at another local farm. It’s November 2, and it’s a 5K that runs all over our farms.”
Pumpkin Runs are held all over the United States, but your local fall festival farm gets to add yet another open-to-the-public activity in which anyone can participate. There is also an added bonus to completing the 5K. “You even get a cup of apple cider and a small pumpkin at the end of the race,” Huffman said.
If distance running isn’t your style, and if pumpkin isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps picking strawberries or visiting markets is. Next summer, plans are in the works to let the public come and pick strawberries to take home.
“We’re going to be doing you-pick strawberries, so we’re hoping to expand our business and hopefully have a farm market here, too,” Huffman said. “So, we’re pretty excited.”
The 327-acre farm is only open for business a few more weeks, so if you, or a friend, are in the market to kick-off the fall season in a fun way, take a day trip on down to check out what Winterbrook Farms Fall Festival is all about. You can head down Saturdays from 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m., and Sundays from 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
There’s no better way to spend a Saturday this fall, so don’t be afraid to get out of the house and do something a little different.
Colton (front) and Daniel (back) Smith launch a few apples with the farm’s apple cannons.
Two boys test out Winterbrook Farms brand new bouncy pumpkin pillow.
Thelma (right) and Louise (left) poke their heads through the fence with a big smile to greet guests.