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Local businesses host festive fall activities in Orange County

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Photos courtesy of Unsplash

For anyone who has been outside lately, crisp fall days seem like a faraway dream. 

Until the sweltering temperatures drop, here are some fall-themed activities to start getting into the spirit of the season.

The McKee Cornfield Maze at Cedar Creek Farm in Hillsborough is one of the largest corn mazes in the area, with intricate designs mown into a 12-acre field navigable by a series of mapped checkpoints. 

“We don’t call it getting lost, we call it getting corn-fused in the cornfield,” Vickie McKee, who owns and operates the farm and maze along with her husband David, said.

Cedar Creek Farm also has a smaller maze for children.

“We have zinnias blooming, sunflowers blooming, farm animals, picnic areas, lots of activities for people to enjoy," McKee said. "There's hayrides to take in the fall through a canopy of trees and around the field, around the farm property, as well as barrel train rides for children.” 

The maze will operate Friday through Sunday, from Sept. 30 to Nov. 4. Pumpkin carving with the farm animals will take place on Oct. 28 and 29. The farm will also host a fun run for breast cancer awareness on Oct. 7. 

Spring Haven Farm in Chapel Hill also hosts pumpkin carving with goats, available from Sept. 20 to Oct. 31. After selecting a pumpkin, attendees can carve it in the goat pasture. Tickets must be purchased in advance online.

At Smith’s Family Fun Farm's pumpkin patch in Hillsborough, attendees can pick pumpkins straight from the vine. The farm also offers popsicles, frozen custard and a giant slide. 

Admission is free with the purchase of a pumpkin, and the pumpkin patch will be open Tuesday through Sunday, beginning Sept. 30.

Local organizations are celebrating the season through various festivals and events.

The Burwell School Historic Site in Hillsborough is hosting a fall festival “Publick Day” on Sept. 23. The community market will feature fresh baked goods, apples, handcrafted items, pumpkins and a silent auction. Admission is free.

Cidery Botanist and Barrel is hosting its third annual “Apple Fest” on Sept. 30 in Cedar Grove. The event will feature live apple pressing, apple cider donuts, hot cider, pizza, live music and — of course — apples to taste and buy. Tickets are $5 and must be purchased in advance, according to the cidery's website.

The cidery is also partnering with Eno River Farm for a “Taste of the Market” event on Oct. 22. Ten local chefs have partnered with farmers from Eno River to create fall-inspired small plates. Admission includes food, drinks, desserts and music by the Marigold Collective.

On Sept. 23 and Oct. 7 Eno River Farm is also hosting fall wreath-making classes. Attendees will learn how to make grapevine wreaths from the farm’s master gardener.

Chapel Hill Community Center also hosts art classes, including several fall-themed craft workshops. Register on the Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation website to make autumnal paper plant centerpieces, spooky string art and ceramic pumpkin carving.

Besides events, local businesses are also rolling out seasonal menu items.

The Meantime Coffee Co. in the Campus Y has already launched their first fall drink, the Compost Maple Latte, and will be debuting a new seasonal drink every other week, according to chief sustainability officer Katie Whittington.

In October, Meantime will announce a seasonal menu with around four new autumnal drinks, Whittington said.

According to Gaby Iori, the events coordinator at Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews, the cafe will launch a new orange honey syrup. Iori recommended ordering it in a mocha for a "fall-ish" combination of chocolate and orange. 

But celebrating fall might be as simple as starting to incorporate a fall wardrobe, watching a cozy show or creating a fall playlist.

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Sophomore Asiah Graham said fall is probably her favorite season, and that she is looking forward to wearing her Doc Martens and eating pumpkin pie.

“It’s festive," Graham said. "It’s a good way to segue into a distraction from the hard work that’s usually going on in fall.” 

@dthlifestyle |