If people tell you there’s nothing to do around Maine right now, don’t fall for it.

Yes, there are certainly plenty of annual fall events that have been canceled because of the pandemic, like the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta, the Fryeburg Fair and the Rolling Slumber Bed Races in Brunswick.

But there are still outdoor events being staged with safety and social distancing guidelines, including trolley rides to a pumpkin patch, a celebration of all things maple and a wife-carrying competition. There are also some outdoor concerts, a spooky drive-in event and, of course, lots of hiking opportunities. Here are a few options for what to do with your autumn.

The Oshima Brothers will play an outdoor show in Bath on Saturday. Photo by Robyn Nicole Film and Photo

UNCOMMON TIMES

The in-person Common Ground Country Fair in Unity has been canceled, but organizers are going to spread the fair’s messages online instead. The virtual Common Ground fair will be held Friday through Sunday, with all sorts of live programming and educational offerings. There’ll be live talks by farmers and authors and many of the kinds of demonstrations the fair is known for, except online. The demonstrations and talks range in topic from garlic planting and working with sheepdogs to baking and community solar farms. For more information, go to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners website.

SOUNDS GOOD

While indoor concerts are scarce these days, you can still catch a few outdoor shows this fall. There’ll be one Saturday by the Oshima Brothers, a Maine-based folk and acoustic pop duo, at the Maine Maritime Museum on the Kennebec River in Bath. It’s the last of several outdoor shows organized this year by The Chocolate Church Arts Center in Bath at various locations.  Tickets are $20 in advance. For more information and to buy tickets, go to The Chocolate Church Arts Center website.

The Pumpkin Patch Trolley begins its runs Sept. 25 at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport. Photo courtesy of the Seashore Trolley Museum

PUMPKIN EXPRESS

The Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport is continuing its annual Pumpkin Patch Trolley event this year, on various days Friday through Oct. 11. It’s a ride on a vintage trolley that ventures into the pumpkin patch and let’s people pick one to take home. Trolley cars that usually hold 100 people will carry 20 to 25, and the pumpkins will all be distanced from each other in the patch when people go to pick them. There will also be kids activities like a cookie walk and a photo scavenger hunt. Admission is $2 to $14. For more information, go the Seashore Trolley Museum website.

CARRY ON

The North American Wife Carrying Championship at Sunday River ski resort in Newry is an annual spectacle of men carrying their wives (or partners or friends) slung over their backs while they run up and over hills, through mud and other obstacles. It’ll be held at 11 a.m. on Oct. 9,  but with some restrictions. Spectators used to stand in the middle of the horseshoe-shaped course to watch, but this year they’ll be outside a fence around the course, wearing masks and standing six feet apart. And competitors will race one couple at a time, to avoid bumping into other folks. The event is free to watch. For more information, go the Sunday River website.

Members of Ghost of Paul Revere performing at the Maine State House in 2019. Photo by Joe Phelan/Staff Photographer

MUSIC TO DRIVE FOR

Drive-ins have become very popular this year and will continue to be this fall. They’re spaced-out, outdoor spaces where people can watch movies, see concerts or attend a graduation and be pretty safe. The popular Maine rock band The Ghost of Paul Revere has been playing the drive-ins this year instead of the usual indoor gigs. The rootsy folk group has two shows scheduled Oct. 9 and 10 at Narrow Gauge Cinema’s Drive-In in Farmington. Tickets for a carload of four people are $110. For more information, go to the Narrow Gauge Cinema website.

Maine Maple Producers Weekend will see maple syrup makers welcoming the public beginning Oct. 10. Photo by Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

MAKE MINE MAPLE

Maine Maple Sunday is usually held in March, but this year of course the pandemic postponed it. Instead, maple sugar operations around Maine will be welcoming visitors for Maine Maple Producers Weekend, Oct. 10 and 11. Some Maine sites will also be open the following weekend, as part of a regional maple open house event called the North American Maple Tour. Each one has slightly different dates, hours and offerings, as well as rules about social distancing. Some are restricting or limiting access to indoor spaces, like the sugar house itself, or bathrooms. But they’ll be selling maple syrup, maple candy, maple whoopie pies and a million other maple treats, and some will offer samples.  To find specifics on what each place is offering and when, go to the Maine Maple Producers Association website.

The classic horror film “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” at Saco Drive-In Oct. 17, with music provided by James Kennerley playing Portland’s Kotzschmar Organ. Photo by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

HORROR ON THE BIG SCREEN

The annual Halloween event for Portland’s Kotzschmar Organ will go outdoors this year, at the Saco Drive-In on Oct. 17. Usually a silent horror film is shown in Merrill Auditorium, with accompaniment by the mighty organ. But this year the film, the 1923 classic “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” will be show on the drive-in screen. The film will still have the power of the organ; municipal organist James Kennerley is creating an improvised score for the film on the organ at Merrill Auditorium, as he watches it, and then his soundtrack will be played with the movie at the drive-in. Tickets are $15 per car. It will also be shown with Kennerley’s music online over Halloween weekend. For tickets and more information, go to the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ website.

Take a fall hike and see what you might find, maybe a newly built bridge. Photo by Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

TAKE A HIKE

Taking a fall hike is a very Maine thing to do, and there’s really nothing stopping you from doing that this year. Though you might want to avoid trails you know might be crowded, and bring a mask. You can use the Maine Trail Finder website to search out some trails you maybe didn’t know about. Just put in a town, like Buxton, and how far you want to go from there, and you’ll get some choices. There are 25 trails within 10 miles of Buxton listed on the site, by the way, including Nelson Preserve, Horton Woods and Frazier Preserve. You can also go to the website of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and search state parks that offer hiking trails.  There are about 60 statewide, including Moose Point State Park in Searsport, Mt. Blue State Park in Weld, Range Pond State Park Poland and Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport.


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