Fall! That wonderful time of year has finally arrived... well at least for a few days, then it disappeared, but it will be back again. This past weekend I checked out a local fall treasure, Montpelier Farms located just a few minutes from Pointer Ridge (south Bowie). Right off of 301 sits a family farm open to the public for it's 5th Season. The farm is owned by Mike and Adrienne Dunne, the farm itself was one of the original land grants dating back to the 1700's so there is a lot of history and tid bits of that history can be found around the farm (there are small straw animals found throughout the farm, these were made by a family friend 30-40 years ago).
I was given a tour of the farm by Shelby Watson, farm manager. Shelby also grew up on a farm in Southern Maryland so is quite familiar with farm life. Montpelier Farms is a working farm and harvests soybean, corn, hay/straw, as well as pumpkins. The Fall Festival runs from the September through November, Friday evenings and all day Saturday and Sunday.
2 & under: FREE
Season Pass: $22
Tickets are available for the seven (7) ticketed activites:
*Duck Races *Cow Belly Bounce (moon bounce) *Pumpkin Chunkin' *Barrell Train *Gem Stone Mining *Scarecrow Workshop *Paint-a-Pumpkin
Everything else at the farm is FREE with admission, including the 10 acre corn maze as well as the smaller maze for younger children or parents who don't want to walk through the big one (great if you have kids with short attention spans). The corn maze is constructed every year by a designer who travels all over the country with his designs and constructs them using a tractor with a GPS. On average the large corn maze takes roughly two hours to complete whereas the small one takes roughly 20 minutes, on average. Take that into consideration before entering!
What is NEW this year at Montpelier Farms?
Two new slides have been added to the Hill Slide (tube slides!)
Educational Center, concrete was poured just this week and this will serve for field trips, will bode a indoor restroom with changing tables (great for parents) versus changing them in the grass!
Montpelier Farms also serves as a venue for weddings, engagement shoots, birthday parties, fieldtrips, cooperate events, as well as campfires for youth groups, boy scout troops, etc... The campfires can be reserved and the fire will be maintained for you while your group enjoys the treats you provide. Alcohol is allowed but they reserve the right to remove you if necessary. Thankfully they have never had an issue with this.
The pumpkin patch opens on September 29th. The pumpkins are grown on the farm, in the outskirts but due to liability issues (yeah for sue happy people) the pumpkins have to be picked and then placed in a faux patch. Pumpkins are sold for 60 cents/lb and can be placed in the pumpkin daycare until you are ready to leave the farm for the day!
During your visit make sure you visit the big barn at the top of the hill, the farmers market is located there and concessions are available. If it is not grown on the farm, it is purchased from a local farm. This includes the corn that you can buy fresh or roasted and dipped in butter (YUM!), as well as the apple cider (from Boggars Orchard in Westminster, pressed every 3 days), even the caramel apples are made in house and look delicious!
One last FREE activity that your kids will love are the animals! While we visited Mason fed the goats, horse, and alpacas. If you want to see the bunnies, go early as they tend to go into their houses once it starts to get hot. There are vending machines (like gumball machines) where you can purchase food to feed the animals. Little bags of food are also available for sale at the front counter, a much better deal so plan ahead!
Last year 30,000 people visited Montpelier Farms, let's support local businesses and double that!
Just for the grown ups!
Montpelier Farms will be hosting wine tastings of local vineyards during the month of October, check their website for details. http://www.montpelierfarms.com/index.htm
Flashlight Corn Maze is available in the evenings on Friday and Saturday, general admission still applies. Bring your own flashlight but they are available for sale in the barn if you happen to forget. This is a fun event for all ages but please remember that while the corn maze is not haunted, running into other people traveling the maze with just flashlights at night may be scary.
**One more reminder, please bring sunscreen for yourself AND your little ones. Even though we are in fall, the sun is still brutal and this is an open farm with little shade**
A giant structure is made in front of the farm every year, created by the owner Mike Dunne. Can anyone tell me what this years design is? Maybe someone from Bedrock City that has come to the Bowie/Upper Marlboro area for a visit? Take a picture and share it with me here!!