By Rhea Pechter
September is a month full of fairs and festivals throughout the region, each with a unique set of activities for little ones.
If there is one thing that will bring Nicole Bartels and her kids back to the Anne Arundel County Fair every year, it’s the pig race.
“My kids, and every other kid there, were going crazy for these little piggies,” says the mom from Bowie.
Bartel hits not just one, but two county fairs every summer with her 2- and 4-year-old children to see the pig races, pretend to drive tractors and, of course, to ride camels.
“Who knew you could even have that option around here?” Bartels says.
Here are a few fairs in September that are perfect for families.
Pick a county fair
All kids love a county fair, and there are three in the area this month — Prince George’s, Anne Arundel and Calvert County fairs. From pig races to livestock shows and games to carnival rides, there is plenty of fun for everyone in the family, and kids can often attend for free.
The Prince George’s County Fair is the oldest in Maryland and dates back to 1842. It’s scheduled for Sept. 4-7 and features a Beautiful Baby Contest along with the traditional 4-H livestock, home arts competitions and carnival rides. Held in Upper Marlboro, admission ranges from free to $6. countyfair.org
Anne Arundel County holds its fair Sept. 10-14 and boasts an Arundel’s Got Talent Contest Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. The fair also has plenty of livestock for kids to see up close, tractor pulls and carnival rides. Held in Crownsville, admission ranges from free to $6. http://aacountyfair.org/
Calvert County Fair runs Sept. 24-28 and will feature live kangaroos in a sideshow called Aussie Kingdom, which has fair organizer Dotty Green excited.
“I’m quite interested in seeing the kangaroos myself,” Green says with a laugh. She also encourages families to attend on Friday when children are admitted free and there will be performances by karate and dance troupes, dance contests, a John Deere tricycle race and a scavenger hunt fun for even the youngest children. The fair is held in Prince Frederick, and admission ranges from free to $5. calvertcountyfair.com
ArtsFest in Solomons
Step into an enchanted forest in the Fairy Lolly, a whimsical outdoor playground where children can leap from tree trunk to tree trunk and play in a miniature castle, at the 21st annual ArtsFest hosted by the Annmarie Sculpture Garden in Solomons.
Set amidst 30 acres of forests and meadows alongside St. John’s Creek, the “finest arts festival” in Southern Maryland allows children to engage their artistic sides as they make crafts in the Discovery Tent. Melissa Langely, curator of the festival, says past creations have included collages, puppets and necklaces children can take home.
Adults can sip wine and enjoy the eclectic live music selection while children hula hoop to their hearts’ content in the nearby Zany Zone filled with toys and games.
The festival will showcase over 170 local and national artisans with diverse wares such as handmade jewelry, pottery, photography and stained glass. Families can also get a feel for the center’s art classes at the Studio School by meeting the teaching staff.
ArtsFest is Sept. 20-21, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $5; ages 11 and younger free. For details visit annmariegarden.org
Read on for more fairs and festivals in September.