Friday, September 30, 2016

October 2016 Fall Festivals in Central Virginia

Fall festivals offer something for people of all ages. Whether you're looking for live music, crafts, car shows, yummy festival foods, local information booths, rides for the kids or just a place to enjoy a day with family or friends, you'll find it at a fall festival.

The Central Virginia fall festival season kicks off in early September. Get Downtown, held in Lynchburg, is one of the area's first festivals. Although the event was originally intended to welcome college students back to town, Get Downtown has grown to include activities for all ages.

Festival season continues during October and into early November. The month of October offers more festivals than you can fit into your schedule, including ongoing festivals at area pumpkin patches and corn mazes.

Pumpkin Patches and Corn Mazes in Central Virginia

Click the link above for complete information about these area pumpkin patches and corn mazes.

*Smith's Pumpkin Patch - Daily Sept. 23-Oct. 28 - 6204 Fort Avenue, Lynchburg
*Yoders' Farm - Thursday-Saturday Sept. 23-Nov. 5 - 1134 Browns Mill Road, Rustburg
*Jeter Farm - Friday-Sunday Sept. 24-Oct. 30 - 181 Blue Ridge Blvd, Roanoke
*Dark Leaf Farms - Friday-Sunday Sept. 24-Oct. 28 - 2870 Mud Street, Concord        
*White Fall Farms - Saturday and Sunday Oct. 1-31 - 6135 Riceville Road, Gretna
*Layman Family Farms - Wednesday and Friday-Sunday Oct. 1-31 - 1815 Mountain View Church Road, Blue Ridge

Here are some of our favorite festivals to add to your October calendar. Pick one or two to check out each weekend and welcome fall in Central Virginia, festival style.

October 1-2 Weekend

Day at the Point – Oct. 1 from 10 AM to 4 PM at Point of Honor, 112 Cabell Street, Lynchburg, features living history exhibits, period music, kids' games, crafts and more.

Apple Butter Festival – Oct. 1 from 10 AM to 4:30 PM at Silver Creek & Seamans Orchard, 5529 Crabtree Falls Highway, Tyro, features apple butter making, live music, arts and crafts, pumpkin patch, corn maze, kids' activities and more. 

Big Otter Mill Fall Festival – Oct. 1 from 10 AM to 4 PM at Big Otter Mill, 3533 Big Island Highway, Bedford, offers live music, Brunswick Stew, traditional crafts, tours of the historic mill, a silent auction and more.

International DJ Festival – Oct. 1 starting at 5 PM at Benchmark Systems Parking Lot, 1117 Main Street, Lynchburg, offers award-winning music, art and food from around the world.

Slobberstock - Oct. 1 from 12 to 6 PM at Lynchburg Humane Society, 1211 Old Graves Mill Road, Lynchburg, offers live music, breweries and wineries, food trucks, vintage campers, lawn games, and vendors. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome to attend with their humans.

Clifford Ruritan Sorghum Festival – Oct. 1-2 from 9 AM to 5 PM at Clifford Ruritan Hall, 755 Fletchers Level Road, Clifford, offers homemade sorghum molasses, Brunswick Stew, the Virginia Statewide Jousting Championship, arts and crafts, live music and more.

October 7-9 Weekend

Centerfest – Oct. 7 from 5:30 to 9:30 PM and Oct. 8 from 10 AM to 9 PM on Main Street, Bedford, includes live music, arts, crafts, festival foods, pony rides, inflatables, children's activities and games. Friday's events include live music and a cruise-in. On Saturday, the all-day street festival is one of the largest festivals in the Mid-Atlantic.

Yoders’ Farm Family Farm Day – Oct. 8 from 10 AM to 2 PM (with regular corn maze fun until 10 PM) at Yoders’ Farm, 1134 Browns Mill Road, Rustburg with special activities including pony rides, kiddie car rides, farm animals, funnel cakes and more.

Historic Appomattox Railroad Festival – Oct. 8-9 from 9 AM to 5 PM in Downtown Appomattox, includes parades, live music, festival foods, car show, children's rides, festival games, arts and crafts, firefighter's competition, art show, exhibits and much more. There's also a fireworks display on Saturday night, best viewed from Appomattox County High School.

Virginia Wine & Garlic Festival – Oct. 8-9 from 10 AM to 5 PM at Rebec Vineyards, 2229 N. Amherst Highway, Amherst, offers live music, arts and crafts, specialty foods, children's area, contests, vendors, wine and lots of garlic.

October 14-16 Weekend

GO Outside Festival - Oct. 14-16 from 11 AM on Friday to 5 PM on Sunday at Rivers Edge Sports Complex, Roanoke, encourages outdoor recreation with camping, hands-on activities, displays and demos, music, ultimate air dogs, vendors, lumberjack show and lots more. If you like the outdoors, you'll love GO Fest.

Scaremare, Oct. 13-15 starting at 7:30 PM at 2300 Carroll Avenue, Lynchburg, is the area's favorite haunted house, offering creepy trails, dark woods and a spooky haunted house. Suitable for older kids an adults.

Lynchburg Zombie Walk - Oct. 15 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at Lynchburg Community Market, 1219 Main Street, Lynchburg offers you a chance at contest prizes as you show off your inner zombie. Please bring a canned food donation to benefit Blue Ridge Area Food Bank or cash donation to benefit Lynchburg Dog Park.

Bridgewater Plaza Fall Festival – Oct. 15 from 11 AM to 4 PM at Bridgewater Plaza, 16430 Booker T. Washington Highway, Moneta, includes arts and crafts, vendors, bounce house, face painting, pony rides, petting zoo and more.

Apple Butter Festival – Oct. 15 from 10 AM to 4:30 PM at Silver Creek & Seamans Orchard, 5529 Crabtree Falls Highway, Tyro, features apple butter making, live music, arts and crafts, pumpkin patch, corn maze, kids' activities and more. 

New London Day - Oct. 15 from 9 AM to 2 PM at Historic Mead's Tavern, 594 Alum Springs Road, Evington, features antique car show, tours of Mead's Tavern, live music, displays and more.

Apple Harvest Festival – Oct. 15 from 9 AM to 5 PM at Gross Orchard, 6817 Wheats Valley Road, Bedford, offers music, food and fun for all ages.

Fall Harvest Festival – Oct. 15 from 1 PM to 6:30 PM at James River State Park, 104 Greenhill Drive, Gladstone, features wagon rides, face painting, 19th century children's games, apple pressing, a 5K race and more. 

Drumheller’s Orchard Apple Festival – Oct. 15-16 from 9 AM to 5 PM at Drumheller’s Orchard, 1130 Drumheller Orchard Lane, Lovingston, offers live music, arts and crafts, bounce houses, wagon rides, corn maze, pumpkin patch and more.

Amherst County Apple Harvest Festival – Oct. 15 from 9 AM to 5 PM and Oct. 16 from 12 PM to 5 PM at Amherst County High School, 139 Lancer Lane, Amherst, features entertainment, arts and crafts, vendors, craft demonstrations, face painting, bounce houses, festival foods and more.

Timberlake United Methodist Fall Bazaar - Oct. 15 from 9 AM to 2 PM at Timberlake UMC, 21649 Timberlake Road, Lynchburg, offers holiday shopping, homemade soup, baked goods and more.

First Baptist Church Fall Festival - Oct. 15 from 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM at First Baptist Church of Monroe, 139 Francis Avenue, Monroe, offers live music, trunk or treat, bounce houses, hayrides, petting zoo, costumes, food and more.

October 22-23 Weekend

DeVault Fall Family Fun Festival – Oct. 22 from 3 PM to 11 PM at DeVault Vineyards, 247 Station Lane, Concord, offers live music, beer and wine tastings, indoor pool, face painting and other children's activities, haunted trail and more.

Chili Cook-Off – Oct. 22 from 11:30 AM to 7 PM at Sedalia Center, 1108 Sedalia School Road, Big Island, includes live music, chili cook-off contest, chili tastings, vendors and more.

Wintergreen Resort Harvest Fest -- Oct. 22 from 10 AM to 4 PM at Wintergreen Resort, Route 664, Wintergreen, offers fun activities at Discovery Ridge Adventure Center, craft workshop, resort trick-or-treating and more. Reservations and fees are required for some activities.

Bethel Mennonite Fall Festival – Oct. 22 starting at 7 AM at Bethel Mennonite School, 5946 Brookneal Highway, Gladys, includes a benefit auction with many homemade and hand-crafted products, baked goods, apple butter, vendors and more. Auction begins at 10 AM.

International Food Festival -- Oct. 22 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 3015 Roundelay Road, Lynchburg, features live music and foods from around the world. In addition to the tasting menu from the Caribbean, England, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Nigeria, Poland, Philippines, Israel and Latin America, there will also be a beer and win bar. Profits Our Lady of the Nativity Church and School in Savanette, Haiti.

Scaremare -- Oct. 20-22 starting at 7:30 PM at 2300 Carroll Avenue, Lynchburg, is the area's favorite haunted house, offering creepy trails, dark woods and a spooky haunted house. Suitable for older kids an adults.

October 29-30 Weekend and Halloween Events

Truck or Treat - Oct. 29 from 12 PM to 5 PM at Apocalypse Ale Works, 1257 Burnbridge Road, Forest, includes live music, pumpkin patch, children's costume contest, food truck samples, trick-or-treat and more.

Scaremare - Oct. 27-29 starting at 7:30 PM at 2300 Carroll Avenue, Lynchburg, is the area's favorite haunted house, offering creepy trails, dark woods and a spooky haunted house. Suitable for older kids an adults.

Fall Festival - Oct. 29 from 8 AM to 1 PM at Chestnut Hill Baptist Church, 5225 Fort Avenue, Lynchburg, offers crafters and vendors, food and children's activities. 

Harvest Festival - Oct. 30 from 4 PM to 6 PM at Lynchburg First Church of the Nazarene, 1737 Wards Ferry Road, Lynchburg, includes trunk or treat, face painting, hay rides and fun for the entire family.

Kids Karnival - Oct. 31 starting at 6:30 PM at Thomas Road Baptist Church, 1 Mountain View Road, Lynchburg, open to children up to 5th grade and their families, includes inflatables, games and fun. 

Nelson County Sheriff's Office Trunk or Treat - Oct. 31 at Nelson County Sheriff's Office, 84 Courthouse Square, Lovingston, is a family-friendly way to spend Halloween. Kids and their families are invited to trick or treat at Halloween-themed vehicles, meet officers and enjoy refreshments and snacks.

There's so much to keep you busy during the month of October around Central Virginia. Whether you're looking for kid-friendly events or activities to enjoy with friends, check out a few of these events.

You can also visit Lynchburg Macaroni Kid and sign up for a free weekly newsletter with information about family-friendly activities and events in Lynchburg and Central Virginia.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Pumpkin Patches and Corn Mazes for Central Virginia Family Fun

Enjoying a day of family fun at a pumpkin patch or corn maze is one of the best parts of fall here in Central Virginia. Many local apple orchards hold fall festivals, which may include pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hayrides and other family-friendly activities.

These pumpkin patches and corn mazes are all located within about an hour of Lynchburg, so plan ahead for fall family fun.

Smith's Pumpkin Patch, located at 6204 Fort Avenue, is open for the season daily from Sept. 22 through Oct. 31. Kids 1 year old and younger are admitted free. Kids can enjoy all-day fun and season passes are also available. The play area at Smith's includes bounce houses, Noah's Ark, teepee, the Titanic slide, giant tunnel maze, cornhole and corn box. Kids can paint their own pumpkin, take a hay ride or visit the corn maze. Smith’s hours are Monday-Thursday 2-8 p.m., Friday 10-9, Saturday 9-9, Sunday 12-8. Every Friday check out "Glow in the Dark" in the Corn Maze from 9-10 p.m.

Jeter Farm is located at 181 Blue Ridge Boulevard in Roanoke. Jeter Farm is open for the season Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Sept. 24 through Oct. 30. Enjoy the corn maze, hay rides, barnyard zoo, pick your own pumpkins and more. Hours are Fridays from 3-6, Saturdays from 9-6 and Sundays from 12-6. Kids ages 2 and under are free.

White Fall Farm, located at 6001 Riceville Road in Gretna, is open weekends from Oct. 1-31. Saturday hours are 9-7 and Sunday hours are 2-7. The farm offers pick-your-own pumpkins, pumpkin painting, mazes, hayrides, castle, bonfires, farm animals, the Pumpkin Hunt and more. Pack a picnic lunch or visit the concession stand. Cash and checks only so plan ahead.

Yoders' Farm is located at 1134 Browns Mill Road in Rustburg. Yoders' is open for the season from Sept. 23 through Nov. 5. Kids of all ages can enjoy the corn maze, pumpkin patch, hay rides, duck races, farm animals and more. Hours are 10-10 on Fridays and Saturdays. During October, the Corn Maze will also be open on Thursdays from 3-7.

Dark Leaf Farms is located at 2870 Mud Road in Concord. Dark Leaf Farms is open weekends from Sept. 24 through Oct. 30. Hours are 4-6 on Fridays, 10-6 on Saturdays and 1-5 on Sundays with a pumpkin patch, corn maze, hay rides, bounce house, barrel ride, pedal karts, petting zoo and more. 

Layman Family Farms is located at 1815 Mountain View Church Road in Blue Ridge. Layman is open for the season from Sept. 17 through Nov. 12. Enjoy the corn maze, pumpkin patch, hay ride, corn crib, tunnel slide, jumping pillow, cow train, corn cannon, pumpkin blaster, animal alley and lots more. Use Layman Tokens to enjoy some of the special attractions on the farm. During September, Layman Farm is open Saturdays from 10-6 and Sundays from 11-6. October corn maze hours are Fridays from 3-8 p.m., Saturdays from 10-6 and Sundays from 11-6. In October, you can also enjoy Flash Light Maze Nights on Wednesdays from 6-9 p.m. and Haunted Harvest on Friday and Saturday nights from 8-11 p.m. November hours are Saturdays from 10-5 and Sundays from 11-5. Admission is free for kids under age 2. Season passes are available for older kids and adults or pay at the gate.

So get lost in a corn maze together...

Climb on hay bale creatures...

Let your little one paint a pumpkin all by herself...

Pick your favorite pumpkin from the patch...

Let the kids ride in a little cow train...

Pile in together for a hayride...

Pet the animals in the petting zoo...

Climb and slide bounce on the inflatables...

Or just kick back and watch the kids bounce off some of that energy. Whether you visit one pumpkin patch, corn maze or apple orchard this fall or check them all out, there's no better way to spend a fall day than making memories with family or friends.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Fall 2016 Apple Orchard Fun in Central Virginia

Apple Orchards 2016

Here in Central Virginia, fall temperatures mean it's apple orchard time. Apples are packed with vitamins and fiber, but low in calories for a sweet treat you can enjoy without guilt. Apple orchards in Central Virginia are ready for the fall season. Add a trip to one of these apple orchards to your fall fun family planning. The blue links below take you to each orchard's website.

Morris Orchard, located at 226 Tobacco Row Lane in Monroe, reopens for apple season in mid-September. Kids love the hay bale creations and farm animals at Morris Orchard. There's a great selection of apples, a pick-your-own pumpkin patch and apple cider too. In October, you can also enjoy fresh apple cider donuts. Morris Orchard is open Monday through Saturday from 9-5. Morris Orchard is open some Sundays in season.

Pick your own apples at Silver Creek & Seamans' Orchards in Tyro and Roseland or visit anytime for pre-picked apples. Market hours are Monday through Saturday from 10-4:30 and Sunday from 1-5. September PYO dates are Sept. 10-11 at Silver Creek Orchard in Tyro and Sept. 17-18 at Seamans' Orchard in Roseland. October PYO dates are Oct. 8-9 at Silver Creek Orchard. The pumpkin patch is open Oct. 1-30 for PYO pumpkins. Apple Butter Festival dates for 2016 are Oct. 1 and Oct. 15. Pink Lady Fun Day is Oct. 29.

Drumheller's Orchard, located at 1130 Drumheller Orchard Lane in Lovingston, reopens for apple season on Sept. 6. Drumheller’s is open Monday through Saturday from 9-5 and 12-5 on Sundays. Drumhellers will hold two apples festivals this fall, on Sept. 24-25 and Oct. 15-16. The festivals feature hayrides, a pumpkin patch, corn maze, games for the kids, arts and crafts, music and more. Festival weekend hours are 9-5 on Saturday and Sunday. 

Johnson's Orchards, located at 2122 Sheep Creek Road in Bedford, is open daily from noon to 5 p.m. into mid-December. In addition to apples, you'll find cider, pumpkins and farm animals. There's also find a big selection of wines at Peaks of Otter Winery next door with free tastings each weekend.

Gross' Orchards, located at 6817 Wheats Valley Road in Bedford, is open year-round Monday through Saturday from 8-6. Pick your own apples or purchase pre-picked apples and enjoy wagon rides every day. There's a blacksmith on site on Saturdays. Mark your calendar for Gross' Apple Harvest Festival on Oct. 15. 

Saunders Brothers Orchard and Farm Market, located at 2717 Tye Brook Highway in Piney River, is open Monday through Saturday from 9-6 through mid-November. You'll find apples and more at the orchard and market every day. Saunders Brothers celebrated its 100 year anniversary in 2015. There are special events each Saturday from September through mid-December, including Product Sampling on Sept. 10, Fall Pansy Sale on Oct. 1, Farm Animals Day on Oct. 15, Apple Tasting and Children’s Halloween Costume Contest on Oct. 29, Apple Butter Making on Nov. 5, and special holiday events in late November and early December. 

Carter Mountain Orchard, located at 1435 Carters Mountain Trail in Charlottesville, is open daily from 9-6 through early November, daily from 9-5 during November and weekends from 10-5 until mid-December. Carter Mountain Orchard will reopen to the public in April. During fall, enjoy hayrides, PYO apples, apple cider donuts and more. Check out the Thursday Evening Sunset Series, 6-9 PM with free admission and live music. Plan ahead for family fun with a Johnny Appleseed Birthday celebration on Sept. 17-18 and the 2nd Annual Halloween Spooktacular on Oct. 30.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Solo Hiking: Conquer Your Fears and Hit the Trails

It happens every time I go hiking, whether I'm at the trailhead before the hike, at the summit of a mountain or somewhere along the trail. It's nearly always a woman who asks the question, "Are you hiking alone?" When I answer yes, the second question is always the same, "Aren't you afraid?" The answer is complicated: yes and no.

Like many solo hikers, I love to hike. Like many solo hikers, my partner isn't a hiker. As a result, most of my hikes take place during the week on my day off, when most people are at work.

The beauty of nature surrounds you while hiking in the woods. Regardless of the season, there's always something to see and enjoy.

Related article: Hiking Virginia: McAfee Knob

Am I afraid of running into a bear? Yes, a little. A snake? Yes, a little more. A rabid bobcat? Yes, a lot. A psychopath or sociopath human being? Yes, most of all. The two-legged stalker worries me much more than any of the four-legged creatures in God's universe.

But life's not about living in fear. Life is about facing your fears, staring them down and conquering them. Life is about exciting adventures, new experiences and embracing the journey. Yes, it's true that I can see beautiful butterflies by just stepping out of my car at any wayside along the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, or sometimes even walking into an urban garden.

But I can't catch a glimpse from the parking lot of the blue skies of Virginia as I near the end of a challenging uphill hike through the green tunnel...

And moments later look across at endless mountaintops and valleys from the top of the world in Shenandoah National Park, with the clouds seemingly just beyond my reach.

I can't count the times I've wandered along on an unknown trail leading into the woods, not knowing what's waiting...

And, after a short hike, have found incredible vistas waiting for me.

Sometimes, there are sad things to see in the woods, like the aftermath of a devastating wildfire.

But the resilience of nature can be seen too, as an area ravished by wildfire slowly returns to life.

There are lots of little things to find when solo hiking too: a cluster of butterflies beside a lake.

A chipmunk on a rock deep in the woods on Limberlost Trail.

A tree that seems to be beckoning you to come closer.

The flowers of spring and summer growing wild in the woods.

Your reward after a long downhill hike may be seeing the majesty of nature in a waterfall crashing down the rocks.

After hiking to the summit of Sharp Top Mountain, you'll feel the same sense of wonder and awe these two children felt...looking down on the world below.

Wonder and awe aren't just for little kids. You'll meet other hikers along the way -- both young and old -- who share your love of nature.

Sunrise and sunset hikes are especially pretty, no matter where you hike.

As a solo hiker, there are many trails I love. I'm always excited when I come to a suspension bridge deep in the woods.

Many solo hikers have a favorite spot to just stop and take in the views. Mine is this boardwalk beside the creek along a little wooded trail minutes from home.

Give it a try. There's nothing to lose. Follow that trail into the woods. Who knows what's waiting.

Hike quietly through the forest and you may be surprised by what you'll find.

 Whether it's winter at McAfee Knob...

Or springtime in the James River Face Wilderness...

In the middle of summertime along the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park...

Or as the colors of fall paint the woods along the Fallingwaters Cascade Trail...

Come on out to the forest. Allow time to delight in the beauty of nature in surround sound.

Spend enough time on the Appalachian Trail and you may even run into a thru-hiker or two, heading north from Georgia to Maine in spring or south from Maine to Georgia in summer or early fall.

I may never hike the 2,160 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, posing in triumph at the summit of Mount Katahdin. But I will enjoy the adventure and excitement of solo hiking bits and pieces of the A.T. and other trails for as long as I'm able.