Archive for September, 2010

3 Fun Places to Buy Pumpkins

Mary with pumpkins at Merrifield Garden Center

Wow, are there ever a lot of pumpkins out.  Must be fall! 🙂 Here are three local places that are selling pumpkins (going rate for the big ones seems to be about 59 cents per pound), as well as plants, apple butter, and Halloween decorations.

If you’re picking a pumpkin to make a jack o’ lantern (the big ones aren’t any good for pies), then look for one that sits well, and doesn’t have any soft spots. Medium-sized ones may be easier for kids to carve.

Pigboy Willy’s Pumpkin Patch

Witches for sale at Pigboy Willy's Pumpkin Patch

I had to stop here because of the name.  I asked the lady at the stand about the origin of the name, and all she could say was that it was an old family story.  The pumpkins are arrayed on the parking lot in the corner of Pan Am Shopping Center on the corner of Lee Highway and Nutley Street in Fairfax, Virginia.  I like the witches. They were plenty big and would decorate an entire door, or add a bit of color to a Halloween party, and they were only $13 each.

Cox Farms Vienna Market

If you don’t feel like driving out to Centreville, you can get some of the pumpkin patch experience (for free) at the Cox Farms stand in Vienna, Virginia (2599 Chain Bridge Road). They also sell fresh, local apples, honey sticks, cider, pies, and preserves.  There are also hay bales and wooden playground equipment to climb, as well as wooden cutouts for photo opportunities.

Merrifield Garden Center

On the corner of Lee Highway and Gallows Road, in Merrifield, Virginia, you can find — not just pumpkins — but pumpkins in all kinds of shapes, colors, and sizes.  So if your taste in pumpkins runs to the hip and eclectic, you should make this your pumpkin patch stop.

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Spend Sunday at The Flying Circus in Bealeton, VA

This is the pilot and the plane I flew in

Are you starting to think about the weekend yet?  Want to try something different?  If you haven’t done this yet, you might want to consider taking a trip down 29 to Bealeton, Virginia to check out The Flying Circus Airshow, which takes place each Sunday at 2:30 p.m., weather permitting. To see if the show is on for that day, visit their website

Admission is $10 for adults ($2 off coupon on the website) and $3 for kids, and I recommend it.  It’s mostly biplanes, and the stunts are jaw-dropping.  They do have a small snack bar with hot dogs, but there are plenty of places to eat along the way there, or you could bring a picnic.

Before and after the show, you can purchase a biplane ride ($70 to $130).  Now, I took this ride.  Did I enjoy it?  That is hard to say.  It was really fun, but I was also  scared and had to close my eyes for some of it 🙂 especially the wingovers.  I am fairly sure I screamed during the wingovers.  Imagine a very loud roller coaster ride in the air and you get the idea.  But not everyone is as chicken-hearted as I am.  I am glad I did it at least once in my lifetime, and the view is incredible — lovely country side around there.

But now I am perfectly happy to watch (and have my child watch) the air action, wing-walkers, and stunt pilots with my feet firmly on the ground.

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Celebrate Autumn Days at the Skyland Resort Saturday

Saturday, October 2, 2010

11:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Skyland Resort, Mile 41.7 on Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, Luray, Virginia 22835

Skyland Resort in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia is hosting Autumn Days, with entertainment, children’s activities and local crafters throughout the day.

If you go, please note that your GPS may not work, and bring directions.  The location is about 95 miles (or a 2 hour drive) from Falls Church, Virginia. See the website for accommodations.  Directions to Shenandoah National Park.

Seasonal fare includes

  • Corn Chowder
  • Chili
  • Brunswick Stew
  • Bratwurst
  • Cornbread
  • Sweet Potato Pie
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • Pumpkin Fritters.
  • Sam Adams Otoberfest Beer
  • Hot Apple Cider

11:00am to12:45pm: Hollowbound Bluegrass Band

Violin, guitar, bass, dobro, upright bass, mandolin, and banjo.

1:00pm to 3:00pm: SunnySide / Classic Country & Old Time Mountain Music

3:15pm to 5:00pm: Possum Ridge String Band

Old time string music from the southern Appalachian mountains, as well as Irish and Scottish music.  Core instruments include fiddle, banjo, guitar, hammered dulcimer, bass, whistles and a didjeridoo. Anglo concertina, mandolin, bodhran and autoharp round out the mix of instruments played.

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Review: Alexandria Colonial Tours’ Original Ghost and Graveyard Tour

Alexandria Colonial Tours Guide

You know that Old Town Alexandria is historic.  But did you know that there are several ghost stories associated with Old Town?  Saturday night was warm and clear, so I spent $10 on the 9 p.m. Ghost and Graveyard Tour (I had just missed the 7:30 p.m. tour because of the wicked Old Town traffic – hint: allow yourself plenty of time to get there and find a parking space!)

The tour lasts a little over an hour, and I really enjoyed it, and would say it is definitely worth the money.  There are discounts for children but if you have an active child, I don’t know if they would enjoy it.  The costumed guide carries a candle-lit lantern and tells about six stories, and not all of them are about ghosts, although they are all interesting. She shared lots of historical facts about Alexandria in the colonial era, the social mores, and some of its more colorful citizens.  These are long stories and you stand in place for a fairly extended time, so I could imagine younger children like my son getting restless (although none did — there was a little girl in a stroller that seemed fine).  But the adults and older children seemed to enjoy the stories, as did I, and a couple of the ghost stories were truly g0ose-flesh inducing!  I don’t believe in ghosts, and even I was creeped out by the tales.

This would be a fun date night activity, or something to take out-of-town guests to.  Or you could just do it by yourself, as I did.  They do “abandon” you in a dark graveyard, as they say they will do, but it’s small and well-lit cemetery, and it’s easy to find your way back to the King Street area, just a couple of short blocks away.

They just seemed, well, kind of long and dark blocks — you know — after hearing all those ghost stories 🙂

Here’s the informational website.

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Cox Farms Opens Today!!

Photo by Christine Krisza

If you have active children (or you are a kid yourself), you must not miss a fall day at Cox Farms in Centreville, Virginia.  I am sad that my son now says he is too old for it; I still love it.

Cox Farms offer the most fun hayrides EVER, including aliens and fun “getting stuck” in the mud.  And you can ride as often as you want!

There are also hay bales to climb on, frisky goats to feed, and musical performers (often bluegrass and kid folk rock, e.g. Raffi songs).  Don’t forget sunscreen.  Watch a cow getting milked!

Hot dogs and hamburgers are for sale, as well as pies, kettle corn, preserves, apple cider, mums, and pumpkins.  Admission includes a free, small pumpkin.

Cox Farms can get super-crowded on the weekends, but the place is huge, so there is always something to do. Just expect to wait in line for a hayride. During the week, they are often mobbed in the morning by school groups, and that is also when some of the best programming is offered.  But if you want the place to yourselves, you can always visit late in the day during the week.

Aliens and hayrides: never gets old!

September 25 – November 7

Cox Farms Fall Festival

10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Admission: $9 during the week; $15 weekends and Columbus Day

15621 Braddock Road, Centreville, Virginia (703) 830-4121

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Harvesting the best of fall in a blog…

October is my favorite month — harvest festivals, crisp apples, fall leaves, incredibly beautiful weather, and Halloween!  If you love fall in Northern Virginia the way I do, then this blog is for you.  Comments welcome!

Your friend in blogging – Mary

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