Farms in Frederick County will take center stage this weekend, as the Family Festival at the Farm highlights its fall offerings and showcases local agriculture.
The 11th annual event will offer free admission to 27 participating farms in the county, said Colby Ferguson, an agricultural business development specialist with the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, who helps to organize the event.
Its purpose is to highlight fall agritourism activities at county farms — which include pumpkin patches and corn mazes, among other attractions — and to promote local farms, he said.
Each farm will offer self-guided tours. Although admission is free, some farms will charge for attractions, such as corn mazes or purchases, Ferguson said.
The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the participating farms, which include livestock farms and wineries. A list of those farms is available at www.discoverfrederickmd.com/funfarm.
The number of participating farms is up from last year’s 22.
Lauren Roop, the daughter of Sam and Mary Jane Roop, the owners of Brookfield Pumpkins in Thurmont, said the family started its pumpkin patch 17 years ago, noting that the patch now covers 14 acres.
The farm has participated in the event since its inception, she said.
“It’s really great to see families coming from Annapolis and Northern Virginia, and D.C. to expose their families to agriculture and have a little fun getaway from the city,” Roop said.
The farm also has an 8-acre corn maze, Roop said. Fifty percent of the proceeds from the maze will go toward breast cancer research, he said.
The maze costs $5 for adults and $2.50 for children. The weekend is typically the farm’s busiest of the year, she said.
“It’s wonderful how attracted people are today to agritourism in general and helping to educate their families about farming,” she said. “We don’t get as much one-on-one time with customers because it is more busy, but it’s wonderful.”
Not all of the participating farms are involved in agritourism.
Open Book Farm in Myersville, which is owned by Mary Kathryn Barnet and her husband, Andrew, raises turkeys, chickens, pigs and produce. The couple is participating in the event for the first time this year.
The farm will continue its community supported agriculture program for two more weekends, in which people pay a weekly fee to receive produce from the farm, Mary Kathryn said.
The Barnets will offer a guided tour of the farm on each day and have produce and meat available for purchase.
“There’s not as much to see right now, but we’re pretty passionate about what we do,” she said. “We love to talk to people about what we do and the way we do it.”