Fall is a wonderful time to discover new farms and festivals. There’s nothing like selecting that one-of-a-kind pumpkin right off the vine. While Brookeville, Maryland sounds like a faraway place, it’s not far from Gaithersburg. The drive through less traveled roads is a pleasant respite from the ‘burbs. I will warn you though, that the road on the farm’s property is really bumpy as it’s not paved, but full of stones. Even if you drive very slow, keep that in mind if you have little ones who can’t handle the motions.
Once you park on the grass, all the activities were central, which was great. Sharp’s is a working farm spanning 530 acres. One thing that sets this fall festival destination apart is the fact that they do not charge any admission fee. Of course, there are activities that cost money, but no admission fee meant a huge crowd of happy families descended on a brisk Saturday morning.
Make your first stop the free hayride, which passes Cattail Creek, a nature trail and up the hill to the glorious 20-acre pumpkin patch. Again, the hayride is very bumpy and depending on where you sit, you may inhale some of the tractor’s fumes. The tractors run continuously and upon your return, you pay for your pumpkins at the market.
Say hi to Jersey cows, pigs, rabbits and chickens. Bring quarters to feed the precocious goats. In the country store, there is an observation bee hive. Be aware that the bees linger throughout the entire property. Also inside the country store is a small “farm museum.” It includes antique farm equipment, tools to shuck corn, an old school desk, sleds and a touch table with several animal antlers and snakeskin.
The country store itself has a great variety of décor for the harvest, locally made honey, applesauce, fruit and peanut butters, granola, baked goodies from Baugher’s Orchard, beverages, glo sticks and even pocket sized hand sanitizer. On the weekends, a pizza truck serves $2 hot dogs, $3 pizza by the slice and whole pies for $18-$20. I heard great things about the pizza, but due to several parties going on, the wait was too long to try the food.
The corn maze is $7 per adult and $5 per child with children age 2 and under free with a paying adult. The fee grants you unlimited trips to the 6-acre educational corn maze and the mini maze. Another option for the wee ones is that for $1 they can go through the mini corn maze multiple times. This year’s theme is The Pollinators: Butterflies, Hummingbirds and Bees. The corn maze is open weekends until November 2 and on selected weekday afternoons. Call before you visit in case of inclement weather.
In addition to the corn maze, other activities that include a fee are face painting, fall tattoos and scarecrow painting in the barn. We didn’t partake in these events so I can’t comment on the prices.
Portable toilets were clean and a handwashing station is available. Bringing wipes or sanitizer is a good idea as there aren’t stations near the animals. Speaking of animals, on select dates, the Iron Bridge Horses and Hounds ride into the farm. We watched the hunt master, several horses and a slew of friendly hound dogs spend close to thirty minutes roaming the farm. It was the highlight of my daughter’s visit and definitely a unique experience.
If you’re like my family who like to seek new opportunities to venture to, check out Sharp’s at Waterford Farm. The 2015 season is from October 2 to 31, 2015 and they are open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends until November 8, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Photos by Kathleen Molloy.