By Josette Keelor
The heat of summer has maintained an obstinate grip on the Shenandoah Valley, despite autumn's steady march into a season known less for its reliable temperatures than for sounds and smells -- the crunch of colored leaves on aging lawns, and the taste of cider and wine, pies and pecans.
But though it's only mid-September, hints of October are in the air, and Friday the 13th will announce the weekend with chills and thrills.
The ghost-hunting group Wee Ghosties, based in Clarke County, will be at Leesburg's Paxton Manor from 7 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday to investigate a haunted manor on the spookiest night of the year. The cost is $100 per person and includes a ghost hunt and class by Wee Ghosties' leader Stacey Graham and a place to sleep at 601 Catoctin Circle NE, Leesburg. Adults 18 years or older, and minors 12 and older with a guardian present, are welcome; bring sleeping bags, food and drinks.
For more information, visit www.shocktober.org/friday-the-13th, but beware scary sounds and images.
In Toms Brook, GermanFest will harvest traditional fall fun from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, with skill demonstrations, military re-enactors, historical presentations, arts and crafts, activities, food, beer, wine and an authentic German band, all free with $5 parking at 11523 Back Road, Toms Brook. No pets allows; bring lawn chairs. Information: www.germanfestva.org.
Looking for a day trip? Wintergreen Resort near Waynesboro is gearing up to celebrate Oktoberfest, from noon to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, which will offer traditional "oom-pah" band music and a celebration of German culture. Information: 855-699-1858, www.wintergreenresort.com
Or head to The Maryland Renaissance Festival near Annapolis and enjoy jousting, madrigal singers, jugglers and Shakespearean plays along a family-friendly jaunt into the 15th Century. Armed with a hot cider or beer and food on a stick, get ready to travel back in time and in the forest at 1821 Crownsville Road, Annapolis, Md. Tickets are $17 for adults though this weekend, $15 for seniors and $8 for children. Starting Sept. 21, tickets are $22, $19 and $10 through Oct. 20. Two-day passes are $30. For more information, call 800-296-7304 or visit www.rennfest.com.
Also this weekend:
• 2nd Annual USO Show and Dance and 6th Annual Virginia Air Show, Front Royal -- Attendees to Friday night's dance and show will enjoy a show with a hot air balloon glow, big band era 1940s-style music, an air raid and more at the Front Royal-Warren County Airport, 414 East Main St., Front Royal. Food and drinks will be available for purchase, and half the ticket prices and beer sales will support U.S. troops through USO-Metro. Admission is $5, and military in uniform get in free. Period dress is welcome. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the show will be from 7 to 10 p.m.
At the air show Saturday, a Flying Circus, military aircraft, hot air balloons and more will take place at the airport. Tickets are $10 at the gate or $8 in advance, $5 for seniors 65 and older and free for children 10 and younger. Gates are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Information: 635-3570, virginiaairshow.com
• 12th Annual United Way Shrimp, Oyster and Barbeque Fest, Front Royal -- At the Volunteer Fire Hall, 221 Commerce Ave. Food is all you can eat, and wine and beer are included in the ticket price. Tickets: $50 for adults and $25 for children 10 and younger. Information: 635-3636
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or email@example.com