Holidaze in Frederick County
When moving to Merryland, we only had about three weeks’ notice. Jobs change and new employers expect you to be there ready to go when they wave that fat paycheck under your nose. So, we hurriedly found us a little townhouse in Downtown Frederick.
Close to the action, easy to meet new people, walkable in one of the most walkable cities (seems like a town to me, but that’s another discussion for another column) in America. Seemed like the perfect solution! One year later, we decided that we didn’t like sharing a house with another family and found us a lil’ farmhouse out in the Frederick County countryside. Still close as all heck to Downtown Frederick, and we cut out a whole buncha commute time for my smarter, cooler, prettier half.
Driving out to the new house, I passed by a whole wagonload of holiday-style farms/petting zoos/Christmas tree groves/Apple bobbing meccas. I absolutely love this type of wholesome, countryside family goodness. Getting lost in a masterfully crafted corn-maze and having a few secret solitary moments that smell like sugar and spice and everything nice on a cloudless and slightly breezy fall afternoon sounds like heaven to me.
This time of year, when the icicles start to hang ominously, snow crunches under tires on salt-crusted vehicles and holiday lights get hung, these places transform into little Christmas markets where you can cut your own Christmas tree. My inner Clark W. Griswold can’t resist the smell of pine and the stick of sap. Warm apple cider and hopefully a cup of glühwein (what my Swedish mother would call glogg) keep you warm on your walk around the lots, and up to the petting zoo where you will attempt, unsuccessfully, to keep a wooly goat from eating one of the woolen mittens you laboriously knitted this summer down at the beach for one of your little angels. Your ungrateful wretch of a kid will be overjoyed to no longer have to wear those itchy monstrosities, but will cry dutifully anyway, so to spare your feelings.
Gaver Farms near New Market specializes in fall and Christmas festivals. Luckily, they have a big field for parking in, as this place is packed most weekends from September through December. Their wreath shop is the perfect place to find that front door decoration that will prove that you have better holiday décor taste than that Jones across the street. Holiday baskets make an appearance for last-minute gifts for the boss. Look how thoughtful you are!
At Summers Farm in Frederick, the pig races made me equal parts “Awwwww” and hungry for ribs.
I know that’s terrible, but pork is every chef’s favorite meat. I can’t help it. Tons of other holiday-type fun can be had here, like Rubber Ducky Races, Pumpkin Checkers, fireworks and even campsite firepit rentals, all of which make this place one of the coolest farm experiences for any city-slicker family to get out in the country for an evening.
The area outside Downtown Frederick doesn’t get nearly the attention that Market Street gets, but I have found the people of rural Maryland to be welcoming and hospitable, the countryside rolling and verdant. The little towns like Thurmont, Mount Airy and Walkersville are surrounded by little hidden farms just like these other bigger places where you can find just as much fun, with far fewer people.
So far, the Frederick countryside has under-promised and over-delivered. Ray Kinsella may have put it best when he said heaven is a cornfield in Iowa. Switch that to Frederick County, Maryland, and I think he might be right.