Sunday, August 31, 2014

Getting Lost in Oz – New England Fall Events Follows the Yellow Brick Road in Portsmouth, RI

Lost in Escobar Farm RI_Wizard of Oz Corn Maze_New England Fall Events
Lost in the Wizard of Oz Corn Maze
It’s no secret that I have an abysmal sense of direction. I credit this unfortunate trait to growing up in New England, where roads twist, turn, and appear to have no reason to their patterning. It would seem that someone like me has no business being in a corn maze where the cornstalks are too high to spot a landmark but I’m here to tell you—if I can do it, you can do it—and it’s just pure fall fun.

In New England, most corn mazes open up around Labor Day as the corn needs to grow tall enough to make a true maze of the experience. Some farms offer a mid-summer sunflower maze but those have pretty much wrapped up by the time the fall corn mazes are ready to roll.

Escobar Farm RI_Wizard of Oz Corn Maze_New England Fall Events
A perfect New England day at
Escobar Farm's corn maze
Corn mazes are a fascinating and wholly temporary fall attraction.  Every season new corn is planted and with it comes a new maze —different themes, highlights, and pathways. One of the treats of a corn maze is seeing the birds-eye view of a particular maze, an aerial photograph of the maze pattern cut through the cornfield—the one chance to capture a season’s maze for posterity.

Recently, New England Fall Events had the pleasure of a pretty little drive down to Escobar Farm in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The expanse of the cornfield was on full, glorious display—glossy green corn stalks set against an impossibly blue sky. It was an outstandingly lovely day in southern New England.

Escobar Farm RI_Wizard of Oz Corn Maze Barn_New England Fall Events
Check in at the barn at the maze
entrance for your map to Oz
We checked in at the quaint red barn at the entrance and we were handed a map of the maze. Escobar Farm has hosted corn mazes every year, often with a Rhode Island theme. Last year’s theme highlighted Portsmouth’s 375th anniversary; other years they have honored the Providence Bruins, the state bird Rhode Island Red chicken, and Aquidneck Island (which is the name of the island where Portsmouth is situated).

In 2014, Escobar Farm has chosen to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz with a maze that carves their cornfield into the Emerald City, the yellow brick road, and the Dorothy, Toto, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow characters. It’s particularly interesting that Escobar’s maze is designed to be two distinct mazes which visually mesh into a single The Wizard of Oz image. This is a very attractive feature because you’ll have the choice to go through one maze (half the cornfield) or to do both for a longer experience. Families with kids will enjoy the option in the event that their little ones are only up for half the maze.

Escobar Farm RI_Wizard of Oz Corn Maze Map_New England Fall Events
Escobar Farm's Wizard of Oz maze
celebrates the film's 75th Anniversary 
Never one to do anything halfway, we were game for the entire maze. With the maze map in hand, we dutifully followed every nook and corner to find our way through identifying when we were in the bottom of the letter B or walking through the arm of the tin man. We climbed up the bridge for a scenic view of the scenic farm property and we stumbled across other maze-goers getting mixed up and doubling-back.

Escobar Farm has gone the extra mile to incorporate Wizard of Oz goodies throughout the maze—we loved the little screen-printed Oz flags and Yellow Brick Road signs nestled in the most unexpected places. We found characters such as the toy-sized Cowardly Lion planted in the tall stalks. After all, “there is no place like home” so it was only fitting that we were greeted by the ruby slipper stone indicating as much at the very end.

Escobar Farm RI_ Cowardly Lion Wizard of Oz Corn Maze Barn_New England Fall Events
Escobar Farm’s corn maze is a joyful way to spend an hour or so. Each maze takes about 30-40 minutes which makes it easy after completing the first maze to decide if you are up for the second.
Starting Labor Day Weekend, Escobar Farm’s corn maze is open during the daytime hours on the weekends and they have a cow train for the kids, a hayride, and when pumpkins are ready, a PYO pumpkin area too. The staff couldn’t possibly be friendlier and the farm is postcard pretty.

Corn mazes are a great way to enjoy an hour or two in the fall—it’s a super fun idea for a fall birthday party (especially if you make it a Wizard of Oz themed party!) as it appeals to kids, teenagers, families, and couples.

Escobar Farm RI_Ruby Slippers_Wizard of Oz Corn Maze_New England Fall Events
A lovely ruby slipper stone greeted us to
mark a successful trip through the maze
The cost of admission for the corn maze is $8 for ages 12 and up. $6 for ages 5-11y, and children 4y and under are free.

The corn maze will be open through November 2nd and as it gets later in the season, the maze will surely get busy. Go in September and early October to beat the crowds!

Escobar Farm will be hosting a Harry Potter Day on September 20th , a Pumpkin Festival on September 27th,  and a Halloween Costume Party on October 25th so there is plenty of fun to be had in Portsmouth this fall.
Note: each event has a designated rain-date.

Tips for visiting Escobar Farm Corn Maze

  • There are picnic tables for those who opt to pack a lunch but the farm also sells light concessions like animal crackers, popcorn, candy, drinks.
  • Escobar Farm has plenty of parking in the field in front of the maze.
  • Escobar Farm’s corn maze is a pet-friendly maze but dogs must be leashed at all times and don’t even think of not cleaning up after your pooch. If you need a baggie for cleaning up, ask the folks at the check-in barn who can supply you with one before you head in.
  • The maze is ADA accessible, including the port-o-johns.
  • There were port-o-johns available at the maze entrance.
  • It’s a stroller-friendly maze. We recommend packing a sturdier stroller rather your light-weight umbrella one.
  • The double maze is a great option—you can decide after going through the first maze whether you’re up for the second (but we think you won’t pass on the extra fun!).
  • Wizard of Oz-themed items hidden within the maze keep kids (and adults) engaged in the theme and the experience.
  • You can follow the map or you can prolong the fun by attempting to find your way through without any navigation help.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ten Reasons to Be Happy Summer is Over in New England

We know it can be hard to let go of the lazy days of summer and Labor Day weekend acts as a bridge that gently guides us from one season to the next. 

New England Fall Events is here to give you ten wonderful reasons to joyfully say farewell to summer and get excited about the arrival of fall!

Ten Reasons to Be Happy Summer is Over
or, Why Nothing Compares to Fall in New England

New England Fall Events Apple Picking Tougas
Apple Picking—need we elaborate?

Hayrides—nothing beats bumping around on a horse-drawn hayride, preferably with a fat, juicy apple in your hand. It's scenic, it's perfect, it's classic.

Cider Donuts—I double dog dare you to come up with a scent better than freshly made cider donuts wafting across the orchard.

New England Fall Events Apple Cider DonutsOrange—it probably comes as no surprise that it is our favorite color too. Orange leaves, orange pumpkins, orange clothes in the stores, orange mums on your front steps. Just like you, we have an orange room in our house too—it’s the perfect shade of orange.

Foliage—Whether you are a dedicated leaf-peeper or just driving around your community, New England Fall Events has teamed up with Jeff Foliage to keep you in the loop.  

New England Fall Events Gillette Stadium PatriotsJack-o’-Lanterns and Pumpkin Festivals— Quite simply, they’re magical, enchanting, and feature lots and lots of orange.

FootballNew England Fall Events is a guide “for New Englanders by a New Englander” so if you think you’ll catch us wearing kelly green before the Super Bowl or cheering on anyone other than our beloved New England Patriots, you are in the wrong place, my friend.

New England Fall Events Leaf Jumping Foliage
Corn Mazes – Can’t have a corn maze in summer because the corn isn't tall enough. Only in fall can we enjoy “getting lost”. Daytime mazes, nighttime mazes, problem-solving mazes, we love them all.

Leaf Piles—no matter the age, there is no better way to feel like a kid again than jumping in a heap of crunchy (orange!) leaves. 

Wine—Okay, many of us enjoy wine year-round but fall is harvesting season for local vineyards. Lots of fun tasting weekends and harvesting events are on the agenda across our region. Exhibit A. Exhibit B. Exhibit C.

What are your favorite fall events, traditions, sights, and smells that make you happy that fall is finally here?   

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

PYO Apples, Nectarines, Scavenger Hunts, Garlic, and Bluegrass: New England Fall Events for August 27-31

Hello New Englanders!
apples ripening Carlson Orchards Harvard MA_New England Fall Events
We caught a glimpse of the apples
coming along at Carlson Orchards

We’re thrilled to share that even more New England apple orchards are opening up for PYO apple picking this weekend! Early-season apples are what you’ll find - Paula Reds, Ginger Golds, Early Macs, and Zestar top the list.  
Always check with the farm the day-of to see if they are picking as many will begin selling pre-picked before PYO opens up (as you will likely find in southern New England).

When it comes to early picking, Maine’s PYO apples are furthest underway—consider Doles Orchard, Treworgy Family Orchard, and Lakeview Orchard if you live in Maine or are heading up for the long weekend. 

PYO Peaches _Carlson Orchards Harvard MA_New England Fall Events
Many New England farms are still
hosting PYO peaches in their orchards
Last weekend after our outing at the Pig n’ Pepper Fest in Westford, MA we couldn’t resist popping by Carlson Orchards in Harvard, MA on the way back. Carlson was still picking peaches and nectarines and they were excited to share that their apple picking kicks off this weekend.
We made a tasty nectarine crisp (recipe posted at the end) and have been swimming in this sweet late-summer fruit all week long—we love having this “problem”.

If you love berries, many local farms are still offering PYO blueberries, raspberries, and soon you’ll find blackberries and the peaches at Carlson Orchards looked spectacular.

Barn Sign  Carlson Orchards Harvard MA_New England Fall Events
We love this welcoming barn sign!
As always, New England Fall Events makes it a snap to find your local or vacation-area orchards. Here are your quick links to the apple picking guides:

New England Fall Events allows you to track farm locations on the interactive state maps too… Orchard and fall attraction maps for ConnecticutMaineMassachusettsNew HampshireRhode Island, and Vermont.

Remember, always call ahead before heading out to PYO as some farms will adjust their hours for weather or they close to allow more time for fruit to ripen.

New England Foliage Report from our favorite foliage tracker Jeff-Foliage:
White Church in Fall Foliage
Randolph, NH

Will September set us up for success or failure in our fall foliage search? In the last month or so I've written several articles about everything from, how to make plans in case of rain to what might happen if we get a colder than average September. So far this August we've seen cooler than average temperatures and a decent amount of rain. There's been talk of polar vortexes and even snow in September! 
What are we going to get? Find out the answer here.

New England Fall Events' Top Recommendations for Labor Day Weekend Fun
With the long weekend fast approaching, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of fabulous outdoor activities to help you transition out of summer and into everyone’s favorite season. Here are our recommended activities for Labor Day Weekend:

New England Trail Family Ramble: Scavenger Hunt – FREE
Meriden, CT  Details
Saturday, August 30, 2014

Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival 
Bennington, VT  Details
Saturday and Sunday, August 30-31st, 2014

Labor Day Weekend Festival at Emery Farm 
Durham, NH  Details
Saturday, August 30th, 2014

Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Pairing Class
Haight-Brown Vineyards in Litchfield, CT  Details
Saturday and Sunday  August 30th-31st, 2014

North Branch Bluegrass Festival
Bridgewater, VT   Details
Wednesday-Sunday August 27th - August 31st, 2014

Portland Brew Festival
Portland, ME  Details
Friday and Saturday August 29th – 30th

King Richard's Renaissance Faire
Carver, MA  Details
Saturdays and Sundays August 30th - October 19th, 2014

Where is New England Fall Events Headed this Weekend?

Escobar Farm's Corn Maze_The Wizard of Oz_ Anniversary_New England Fall Events
Escobar Farm's Corn Maze Celebrates
The Wizard of Oz's 75th Anniversary
New England Fall Events will be swinging by Escobar Farm in Portsmouth, RI to experience the Wizard of Oz anniversary corn maze for ourselves! 

Find maze details, prices, hours, special events, and links to directions here. You can save $2 when you print the coupon from Escobar’s page on New England Fall Events.
We hope to see you there too!

Say-Goodbye-to-Summer Nectarine Crisp Recipe

Makes 8 servings.

6 Cups sliced nectarines
1/2 Cup (for fruit) and 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (for topping)
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼  tsp. salt (for fruit) and ¼ tsp. salt (for topping)
3/4 Cup flour
1/2 Cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ Cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
6 Tbsp butter (divided into 3 Tbsp cold butter and 3 Tbsp melted butter)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat an 8-inch-square baking dish with butter.

Mix together nectarines, ½ cup of brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Transfer into prepared baking dish.

Crumb Topping:
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, oats, 1/3 cup brown sugar, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Add 3 Tbsp of cold butter into the flour mixture and pinch crumble together using your fingers until the butter is distributed evenly into crumbs. Sprinkle crumb topping over the fruit and drizzle melted butter over the topping.

Bake for 30 minutes, until fruit is bubbling and topping is crispy and brown. Cool before serving.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Verrill Farm Day, BBQ, and Apple Pie Contest - Concord, MA

Next Verrill Farm Day, BBQ, and Apple Pie Contest:
Saturday, September 6th, 2014 in Concord, MA. Full listing details here.

Verrill Farm Concord MA - New England Fall Events Farm Day and BBQ
With many family and harvest festivals to choose from every fall, in 2013 New England Fall Events had the pleasure of visiting Verrill Farm in Concord, MA. With sunny weather and a gentle breeze, it couldn’t have been a lovelier day to celebrate our favorite season.

The Verrill FarmFarm Day and BBQ” does a very nice job striking the right balance for a weekend gathering—there is plenty to do yet they manage to maintain a laid-back feel. It’s just pure, outdoor, fall fun. As many families feel that their weekends can be jam-packed, why make time to fit in one more thing? The Verrill Farm event is worth your time for the sheer fact that it is relaxing and peaceful—it is entertaining for people of all ages while being a respite from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.
For one, it’s not nuts. There are various activities scheduled throughout the day—pony rides, hayrides, live music and the like, but the fun can be had without stumbling to your car feeling totally overstimulated. At the risk of sounding trite, it really is a good, old-fashioned, relaxed time spent outdoors.

Verrill Farm Day BBQ Concord MA New England Fall Events
Verrill Farm's wide open space left
plenty of room to play and roam
and never left us feeling crowded
A good way to get a sense of how an event is going can be understood by observing the people all around you. How are they spending their time and is everyone squabbling at each other and being pulled in different directions? This festival had plenty of attendees, mostly families, and with a wide yard, there was plenty of space for people to enjoy themselves without ever feeling crowded. 

The food lines, the pony walks, and the hayride queue were never too long or slow—they moved along and the kids were happy as can be. Dozens of parents just moseying around, wearing their infants in a sling and watching their toddlers play with plenty of room to roam and move. With the parking lot separated from the festivities, it was a very safe and spacious area for kids of all ages to play and, without tight crowds, parents had peace of mind that their kids could roam without ever getting far out of vision.
Verrill Farm Day Tanglewood Marionettes Concord MA New England Fall Events
Tanglewood Marionettes held a captive
audience of kids and adults alike.

The hill was quickly claimed by kids for log rolling and running—it was such a welcome sight to see so much spontaneous free play all around. There were tented areas with picnic tables for those who preferred to eat and relax in the shade or to simply listen to the band playing. A table was set up for entries into the apple pie contest (though not for the general public to taste or judge) and pie display could be observed by all. 

The puppet show by the Tanglewood Marionettes held a captive audience of adults and kids alike. It was a generous touch that the puppets were kept on display before and after the show for people to appreciate and enjoy the artistry up close—a particularly thrilling experience for the kids.

The food was very, very good—pulled pork BBQ, fresh corn, and cole slaw being the main attraction. Some of the best BBQ I recall eating last year—and although it wasn’t noted on the menu board, many of the items-including the BBQ—were gluten free as confirmed by the chef who was on-site at the food tent.

Verrill Farm Day Heirloom Tomatoes Concord MA New England Fall Events
The Verrill Farm selection of heirloom
tomatoes was a true feast for the eyes 
If you’ve been to Verrill before then it goes without saying that you wouldn’t dare leave the farm empty-handed. The adjacent farm stand was bursting with stellar produce, mostly local, much of it harvested right at Verrill. The raspberry display was luscious in its color and ripeness and the abundant harvest of heirloom tomatoes drew everyone in—we, too, left with a fat brown bag’s worth of colorful tomatoes and some fresh burratta cheese.
The interior of the farm stand offered heaping tables of fresh-picked vegetables and fruit, beautifully displayed and clearly labeled with where it was harvested. There was a full wall of refrigerated cases packed with prepared meals, soups, sauces, and trays of heat-and-serve dinners. Nearly all of these prepared meals were cooked right there at Verrill and you could also find goodies such as local honey for purchase.

There's a full schedule of events for Verrill Farms' 2014 Farm Day here. Other goodies are added this year such cookbook author Terry Golson who will be bringing her hens to the event (visit her blog here) and Patti Small's On the Edge mobile knife sharpening service (this lady single-handedly brought my beloved chef's knives back to life for which I am grateful!).

Festival Tips:
Verrill Farm Day Hayrides Concord MA New England Fall Events
Hayrides throughout
the day at Verrill Farm
  • Come hungry. With plenty of fantastic BBQ to be had, you will not want to miss out.
  • Bring cash—it keeps the line moving along quickly.
  • Take it easy—the whole vibe of this gathering is well-organized but laid-back. Come to relax and enjoy the day.
  • The Verrill Farm BBQ and Harvest Fest is a great time if you’re without kids though many of the activities are geared toward families with kids.
  • Parking is easy and free. We arrived at the start of the event and snagged a spot right across from the action.
  • Although there were many shady areas, places to sit under trees, the large tented area provided respite from the sun if you prefer.
  • Don’t even think of leaving the event empty-handed of the beautiful produce and prepared meals from the sizable farm stand.

Family Tips:
Verrill Farm Day Pony Rides Concord MA New England Fall Events
Pony rides delighted the kids and
the lines were never too long
  • The manageable size of the event and the manageable crowds make for a relaxing experience for kids and parents alike.
  • It’s a great place for kids to roam and play.
  • Pack a picnic blanket if you wish to spread out and make a “home base.”
  • As the cars are parked across the side street, it’s easy to leave things in the car and access as needed.
  • The area is very stroller friendly, nearly all on grass, but some areas are a little hilly.
  • Gluten-free BBQ and side options are available if that’s important to you but you’ll need to ask the chef which ones since they were not pre-marked on the menu board.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Early Apples, Wizard of Oz Maze, Frozen Fun, and Foliage: New England Fall Events for August 22-24

Carlson Orchard, Harvard, MA
Hello New Englanders!

It's the middle of August and apple picking has finally kicked off as well! We know that peaches and raspberries are mostly stealing the PYO show right now but in no time at all it will feel like fall has arrived!

If Paula Reds, Ginger Golds, and Zestar are the apples of your eye then you are in luck because a handful of New England farms are already offering pick-your-own-apples. These crispy, juicy, sometimes tart early season apples are great for eating fresh.

Check out:
Shelburne Orchards and Chapin Orchards in VT both start up next weekend but Easy Pickins in CT, DeMerritt Hill Farm in NH, and Tougas Farm in MA are already serving up some early-season PYO.

Interactive state maps to help you plan
Remember, New England Fall Events has apple picking guides for every state in our region to help you make your plans this fall. You can track farm locations on the interactive state maps too!

Here are your quick links to the apple picking guides for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

And while we're at it, here are your shortcuts to the maps for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Escobar Farm Corn Maze - New England Fall Events
It's the 75th Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz and we can't wait to get down to Portsmouth, RI's own Escobar Farm Corn Maze which has designed their maze this year to celebrate everyone's most treasured movie. Escobar's Corn Maze opens this weekend and they'll be open daily until Labor Day (at which point they shift to a weekend schedule). Find maze details, prices, hours, special events, and links to directions here. Even better, save $2 when you print the coupon from their page on New England Fall Events!

The Sunflower Maze is still going on at Lyman Orchards in CT--they've extended through Aug 28th so swing by soon!

Frozen Movie Weekend _ New England
Frozen Movie Weekend in Acushnet, MA
We know how many of you have pint-sized Frozen fanatics living with you so we know you'll never forgive us if we didn't let you know about the Frozen Movie Weekend at The Silverbrook Farm in Acushnet, MA. It's more of a night than a "weekend" so be sure to show up this Saturday, August 23rd. The event begins with the Elsa and Anna meet & greet and the famous Silverbrook Twilight Hayrides which lead up to a movie screening of Frozen at 8:15pm. It's hard to beat the super-affordable admission price of $5 per person! Read up on the Frozen Weekend event details  and visit The Silverbrook Farm page for directions, contact info and more.

Lastly, we're thrilled to announce that New England Fall Events will be working with New England's foremost foliage tracker, prolific blogger, and exceptionally talented photographer Jeff-Foliage to bring you leaf-peeping updates all season long. Jeff's devotion and passion for photography, foliage, and love of New England shines through in his work and we're very happy to connect our autumn-loving readers to his great work all season long. Read up on his latest post with tips on how he plans his fall foliage vacation.

Remember, always call ahead before heading out to PYO as some farms will adjust their hours for weather or they close to allow more time for fruit to ripen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ignite -Somerville's Fiery Food Festival

2014 Poster for Ignite: A Fire and Street Food Festival New England Fall Events
Last weekend New England Fall Events popped by Union Square in Somerville, MA to experience "Ignite" a special community gathering billed as a "fire and street food festival after dark".
The evening was slated to take place between 6:00pm-10:00pm on a Saturday night and, like most of this summer, the weather was just perfect. (Really, it seems that if ever there were a summer to plan an outdoor event or festival, this was the year that everyone hit the weather jackpot).

Festive crowds on a perfect night
in Union Square, Somerville, MA
We arrived at Union Square just after six but, as legend goes, Somerville's street parking always gets the last laugh, so we just drove around...and around...and around (look kids, Big Ben! Parliament!) looking for a place to park that wasn't designated permit-only.
After parking about a mile away, we enjoyed the nice weather as we walked back toward the festivities and everything was in full swing when we arrived.

We wandered through the crowds--oh yes, there were definitely crowds--with queue lines snaking through the plaza We took in the sights and delicious aromas from a variety of vendors but the Union Square Donuts line was in a category unto itself. Their queue was so long that one never truly knew where it started or ended. Still, festival-goers were rewarded for their patience when they came away cradling a comically large, fanciful donut, more of a pillow really--some were coconut encrusted, others adorned with fat chips of bacon. You could see trios of friends ripping away thick yeasty hunks of donut and grinning from ear to ear.

The food vendors were represented by local restaurants-- pizza, Indian, Brazilian BBQ, vegetarian, tapas, Mexican, and more. We were drawn to Casa B. whose menu looked to be right up our alley and the line seemed manageable to boot. We loaded up with a pastelillo de carne (meat turnover), a pair of spicy and sweet choripan (best described as a chorizo and guava-filled "pig in a blanket"), a crunchy pork belly slider, and an icy cold Colombian limeade. Although there were tables and chairs set up, we were content to follow the lead of others and have a seat on the curb to eat and people watch.

Boston Circus Guild delivering a fire
arts performance in the square.
There was entertainment during the entire time we were there. An area was set up near one end of the square where performers would sing, dance, or play in front of a Bengal tiger facade. There was an Bollywood-inspired, techno-beat performance earlier in the evening and I'd happily credit her here but I can't seem to track down who she was.

The other end of the plaza had a large section barricaded for the fire-portion of the evening. Around 7:30, the Boston Circus Guild began their show featuring entrancing fire-spinners, whirling staffs, fiery hula-hooping, and more. It was well choreographed
Fire spinning and fiery hula-hooping
and the performance drew an enormous crowd.
And by "enormous", I mean large in number and large in stature. Quite frankly, I don't ever recall seeing such a congregation of people over 6 foot 4 all in one place. I am, as we say around these parts, "very shawt" by comparison and really didn't stand much of a chance to see the performance. Picture me, along with my fellow shawties, standing six rows from the barricade watching all the action on the phones of people in front of us videotaping the performance. That was the only drag of the evening but I should have known to take my cue from the experienced festival goers who had been lining up at the barricades well in advance.

Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band - New England Fall Events
Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band was
a fantastic addition to the Ignite festivities this year.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the evening was Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band. It is no secret that I am a total sucker for a brass or marching band so seeing the ENSMB in their full performance glory was a real revelation. (It also scratched my proverbial marching band itch until Columbus Day Weekend when the HONK! Festival is where you'll find me dancing and second-lining.) The ENSMB really kicked everything up a notch with their sheer energy, enthusiasm, originality and tight musical sound. The crowds were drawn in right from the start and within no time they had us all nodding along, clapping our hands, and dancing. The music and the band members have a distinct personality and it was a true delight to come across them during our visit to Ignite. You can check ENSMB out yourself as they are often playing in and around New England but if HONK! is circled on your calendar too, you can find them in the lineup there as well. Take a moment to follow these uber-talented musicians on the Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band's Facebook Page.

Lastly, I can't resist giving a huge shout out to the Somerville Cultural Arts Council who is setting the bar high with regards to free, clever, original community programming and events. These are the folks who brought us the endearing PorchFest earlier this summer and they are doing really great work keeping the arts in their community strong and thriving.
In case you don't already know, Union Square is host to a number of neat festivals--on September 27th, we are eagerly awaiting our first visit the the What the Fluff Festival--we hope you'll join us!

Ignite Festival Tips:
Ignite Food Festival _ Somerville _New England Fall Events
The festival seemed to glow once
the sun set behind the buildings.
  • This is a free event but if you plan to partake in the delicious food, be sure to bring cash as plastic isn't accepted because it slows the line down.
  • Bring cash... and load up before you arrive. Make a point to hit up the ATM before you actually arrive at the festival because the line for the ATM at the bank located right there in the square looked to be a mile long. A 3-minute walk around the block will give you plentiful ATMs with no lines.
  • Consider picking one food vendor and stocking up there (or divide and conquer). The lines were long enough that if you wanted to sample everyone's food you could conceivably spend the entire festival in line. With such great entertainment, we'd hate to have you miss out on the rest of the fun.
Family Tips:
Ignite Somerville Kids crafts - New England Fall Events
Free kids' craft table--think
tinker toys with food
  • It's a fairly crowded festival but in terms of entertainment it is very kid-friendly. Strollers will have a hard time navigating the crowds but they'll come in handy when your little guy tuckers out (or if your kiddo is liable to wander off).
  • The kids we saw loved the music and, as kids often are, they were like the show within the show. Dozens of kids were dancing along or helping to carry the banner for the band while they played.
  • The festival had a free craft table set up (see photo) which allowed kids to create using marshmallows, toothpicks, and other foodstuffs. 
  • If you're smart, you'll pack your own snacks to keep your kids happy. Even the pizza was super long and that was probably the most kid-friendly food.  
  • Kids have the added advantage of being able to sit on your shoulders to see the fire performers.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

New England Fall Events: The Everything-You-Need Guide to the Best Fall Activities, Festivals, and Events

With the fall season just around the corner, we have been working round the clock to prepare New England Fall Events with the most up-to-date, comprehensive information about New England farms, orchards, seasonal attractions, festivals, and family fun. Along with our companion website Halloween New England, we have you covered for anything and everything you want to do from September to November in our beautiful, beloved region. 

This fall, New Englanders have much to look forward to. Here are some of the highlights you can expect from New England Fall Events:

More. When it comes to planning your fall fun, having all the information you need in one place is essential. That's what we do best. 

CT Apple Picking Guide on New England Fall Events Listing PYO
CT Apple Picking Guide on
New England Fall Events
Easy. It's a snap to find what you are searching for on New England Fall Events. You already know where you plan to have fun (state) you have your heart set on what you want to do (apple picking) and in two clicks you have all the PYO apple orchards where you can spend a gorgeous Saturday in October right at your fingertips. 

Useful. Every single farm and orchard on New England Fall Events has a unique page with a list of activities and features about their farm along with a map, contact info, and a website, if they have one. You can easily make your plans by using the map and directions in one click right from their farm page.

Maps. Click on the state where you plan to spend your time and you find a map with all the farms and fall attractions available in every New England state. Click on the dot and you've got a link to their farm or orchard page on our website where you can find more info. 

New England Fall Events'  Interactive Attraction Map Farms Orchards Locations Image
New England Fall Events'
Interactive Attraction Map
Plan well. If you're autumn lovers and road-trippers like us, you spend your September and October fitting in as many fall traditions and seasonal activities as you can during this special time of year. There's just one all-too-short season to squeeze everything in so we understand that it's essential to be able to plan carefully and smartly. We are your planning solution for fitting in a hayride, a pumpkin patch, and a food festival all in one day. Our state attraction maps are the key to helping you know which activities are within driving distance and which you can reasonably accomplish in one afternoon.  

Inspiration. Starting in September we'll send out weekly updates to make sure you know about fall events and special activities coming up for the weekend. Regardless of whether you are a planner or a spontaneous type, we've got your back. Our regular blog posts will give you an inside, on-site experience of different events, festivals, and outings complete with pointers for planning your visit plus extra tips for families. Remember to add your email to the handy "follow us by email" box on the right-hand side of the blog so you won't miss a single What's Coming Up this Weekend planning guide. We'll come right to your inbox...and we promise to never bother you or sell your information.

Sample Farm Page and features for Smolak Farms - N. Andover, MA New England Fall Events Image
Sample Farm Page for
Smolak Farms - N. Andover, MA
Focus. New England Fall Events is website highlighting mostly daytime activities. Night owls and thrill seekers will appreciate our companion site Halloween New England. There you will find similarly useful guides and maps to New England night/haunted corn mazes, night/haunted hayrideshaunted houses and trailsghost toursSalem attractionscostumes, and Halloween events. Halloween New England is less family-focused yet it's an invaluable tool for families planning which events and tours are suitable for their kids or teens and which attractions are simply held at night and are non-scary. 

Shop Local, Stay Local. When you use New England Fall Events, you are making a conscious choice to support local family farms, small businesses, and enjoy seasonal activities that are the lifeblood of our communities. By choosing your pumpkin from a local farm, by creating new traditions of annual apple picking, or by spending an hour or two in a corn maze, you are helping to sustain your neighbors and community farms.

We always welcome your thoughts and feedback about New England Fall Events. Stay tuned for more updates and weekly recommendations as we round into fall!