The Greenstreet Gardens Fall Festival in Lothian.
On Sunday, with temperatures in the upper 80s and summer still clinging to Anne Arundel County, Elaine Hopper was digging pumpkin shirts out of storage.
It was opening weekend of the Fall Festival at Greenstreet Gardens in Lothian, and Elaine and Rick Hopper had been persuaded by their daughters to waste no time in getting to the farm.
“October’s busy,” Rick Hopper said with a smile. “We (decided we would) come now even though it’s 90 degrees out.”
The Hoppers, of Churchton, have been attending the festival for the last five or six years, they said.
Sunday afternoon, they watched from a picnic table as Elizabeth Hopper, 12, and Caroline Hopper, 9, bounced on a jumping pillow, almost matching in their orange shirts with jack–o’–lantern faces on the front.
“We are ready for fall,” Elaine Hopper said.
Families trickled into Greenstreet Gardens on Sunday for the fall festivities, which include hayrides, face painting, food vendors, and a pair of “corn boxes,” or sandboxes filled with seas of shelled corn instead of sand.
One of the festival’s biggest draws, though, is its corn maze, which spans about 6.5 acres and takes about 35 minutes on average to walk through, said Ray Greenstreet, who owns Greenstreet Gardens with his wife, Stacy.
The Greenstreets plant their corn late each year – after the Fourth of July – so that the stalks in the maze will be green, not brown, at least early in the festival, he said.
The maze design, done by a local farmer, changes each year, Greenstreet said.
This fall, an aerial view of the corn maze shows a farm with a barn and silos. Letters at the top of the design spell out “MD AG STRONG,” the theme of this year’s festival.
The idea is to promote Maryland agriculture, and also to educate adults and children about it, Greenstreet said.
“Maryland’s No. 1 industry – a lot of people don’t know – is agriculture,” Greenstreet said.
The Lothian farm plays host to several school field trips in the fall, where students take part in festival activities and also stop at educational stations around the farm to learn about topics like how corn grows, Greenstreet said.
Most kids don’t know where their food supply comes from, with the average person in the U.S. six generations removed from farming, he said.
“It’s just connecting them back to agriculture, and that’s what we really need to do,” he said.
“Everybody’s gotta eat, right?”
The festival is open weekends through Oct. 30 from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last ticket sold at 4 p.m.
The cost of admission is $13 and includes all festival activities. Children 2 years old and under are free.
Admission for seniors and military members is $10.