By Josette Keelor
Halloween will make its retreat back into the shadows by this weekend, but that doesn't mean the eccentricity needs to stop. Area First Friday events in downtown Winchester and Harrisonburg will kick off the weekend in style, Saturday and Sunday fun will offer everything from antiques to hayrides, and writers of all ages will meet to write novels and holiday stories throughout November.
On the Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall in Winchester and in Harrisonburg's Court Square at 228 S. Liberty St., First Friday entertainment will include music and art gallery openings. With warmer weather expected this weekend, it's a great time to head outside for what might be one of the last tepid Friday evenings of the year. Information: First Fridays in Old Town Winchester -- facebook.com/FirstFridaysOldTownWinchester or 667-5166; First Fridays Downtown Harrisonburg -- www.valleyarts.org/first-fridays-downtown/ or 564-0928.
For the family
From 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum at 54 S. Loudoun St., Winchester, will have free admission after hours as part of First Friday in Winchester. Regular operating hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Information: 540-722-2020, discoverymuseum.net
Saturday and Sunday at Belle Grove in Middletown, the Antique Appraisal Fair and Traditional Crafts Weekend will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bring an antique or collectible for appraisal by a team of experts who can speak on furniture, paintings, quilts and textiles, books and documents, Civil War items, china, silver, jewelry and other decorative arts. Appraisals are $10 per item or three for $25 in addition to site admission, which is $10 per person or $5 per child, Belle Grove member or National Trust member. Information: 540-869-2028, www.bellegrove.org
Don't let your chances of visiting the Angry Bird corn maze at 5273 Harry Byrd Highway in Clarke County fall by the wayside. The maze at Wayside Farm east of Berryville will end this weekend with a bang. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. visitors can lose themselves and their troubles among the paths during a fun-filled day of pig races, barnyard animals, hayrides, a giant pumpkin field, other activities and food. Admission is $10 per person, and children younger than 16 must be chaperoned in the maze. There is no admission fee for pumpkin picking, but pumpkins are 50 cents per pound. Information: 540-539-3276, www.waysidefarmfun.com
Maize Quest at Bridgemont Farm, 600 Wissler Road, Quicksburg also continues this weekend and runs through Nov. 10 with two mazes under the theme "The Great Train Adventure." Hours are 4:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday. Call ahead for weekday openings. Tickets are $7 for ages 5 and older, and free to anyone younger. Information: 540-477-4200, getlostinthecorn.com/
Feats of fantasy
As part of National Novel Writing Month, area writers will join nearly 192,000 writers worldwide in the challenge of writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. It's free and open to anyone of any age with any level of writing talent and amount of plot development, or lack thereof. Beginning Friday, opportunities to write in free motivational group sessions will take place in coffee shops, libraries and other locations throughout the area and continue through Nov. 30. The Winchester Nation writing group meets in and around Frederick County with events this weekend from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Panera Bread, 2605 S. Pleasant Valley Road, Winchester; and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at the Daily Grind at Abrams Crossing, 621 W. Jubal Early Drive, Winchester. The Shenandoah Valley Wrimos meet mainly in Warren and Shenandoah counties and Harrisonburg and in a private Facebook group. Information: visit forums for Winchester Nation or Shenandoah Valley at www.nanowrimo.org
The Handley Library System plans to host Young Writers groups for writers age 18 and younger at Handley and Bowman libraries. Information: www.nanowrimo.org, 540-662-9041
The 35th Annual Holiday Writing Contest continues this weekend at Samuels Public Library, which cosponsors the contest with Royal Oak Bookshop in Front Royal. All area children grades K-12 are encouraged to enter short stories or poems with accompanying illustrations or a thematic holiday drawing for the Holiday Writing Contest Book of winning entries. Forms and guidelines are available at the library and at area schools. First place winners in each grade will receive a gift certificate from Royal Oak Bookshop. The deadline for entries is 9 p.m. Nov. 11. Samuels, at 330 E. Criser Road, Front Royal, accepts entries from10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. Information: 540-635-3153, www.samuelslibrary.net/
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org