Messick’s Market and fall festival is a cornucopia of fun

Country market offers fresh farm fare and fun

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It’s that time of year when the pumpkin patches start sprouting up all over Fauquier County. Each year it seems to be more competitive, with local farms endeavoring to create the most circuitous corn maze, the scariest haunted hayride, and of course, the largest market of pumpkins of every size shape and orangeness and shades thereof to attract kids and families to celebrate the harvest season.

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While I will always be loyal to our family favorite of Cox Farms, which is one of the original fall festival farms in the area, I recently discovered another delightful pumpkin patch on some back roads heading home to Warrenton from Bealton, drawn in by a roadside sign for fresh blueberry custard.

I pulled off to discover Messick’s Farm Market, which features a adorable walk-up ice cream bar with a covered wood deck patio in front, and a whole cornucopia of fresh vegetables and dairy inside the joining farmers market, opening up and back to a farm fantasyland of activities for kids.

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One of the main attraction for my 10-year-old son was a huge jumping pillow, sort of like a trampoline but filled with air. For the price of three dollars my son got a wristband to join his fellow jumpers, performing flips and other aerial feats that kept him entertained for a good 40 minutes before he staggered off exhausted and parched, gasping for water. This for me was a good thing, as it meant one of us — which means two of us — would get a good night’s sleep that night.

While we came by at sunset, and the hayride and other activities had closed down for the evening, we could see the signage and glimpse the entrance to the corn maze and other activities. After all of his jumping, my son was too tired anyway to do anything else, so lucky for us the festival will go on for another month, and we will be back!

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Vint Hill Fall Festival celebrates a new season

Annual event showcases beauty of the former grounds of Vint Hill Farms Station U.S. Army Base

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There are many small town festivals, but Vint Hill Fall Festival is one of the loveliest I have attended, mostly due to its beautiful surroundings and its rich history. The festival was held this year on September 23 on the grassy grounds of what used to be a US Army base, Vint Hills Farms Station, which has been transformed into a beautiful community gathering area around the historic Vint Hill Inn.

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The event featured gourmet food trucks and traditional fair food like funnel cakes and cotton candy, booths featuring local craftspeople and their wares, community organizations showcasing their services and educating about their causes, a children’s park of fun activities such as a rockclimbing wall, laser tag, a wipeout-style challenge, inflatable slides and more. There were also a couple stages with live music, dancing entertainment and other performances.

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Local merchants such as the popular Old Bust Head Brewery as well as newcomers like the Vint Hill CrossFit gym enthusiastically promoted their growing businesses, and the Vint Hill Village developers were present to share their vision of the future of the area as a town center, complete with a Main Street with shops, restaurants, and new homes.

The setting for the festival is especially beautiful and welcoming thanks to the gracious shade of many old-growth trees that form a natural canopy across the grounds where festival attendees could sit, eat, socialize and play and enjoy the bucolic surroundings.

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It was my second Vint Hill Fall Festival I have attended since moving to the area from Los Angeles last year, and it will be something I mark on my calendar to attend with my family as an annual event where the local community and visitors come together to appreciate all our burgeoning community has to offer.

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Check the back seat when heading back to school

More children get left in cars during back-to-school season

GMC has announced a new vehicle feature to help prevent caregivers from accidentally leaving children in cars, which can be a fatal mistake in hot weather. GMC’s “Rear Seat Reminder” is an industry-first technology intended to help remind the driver to look in the rear seat before exiting the vehicle under certain circumstances.

GMC’s protective feature will be standard in the new 2018 GMC Terrain.  The technology does not actually detect objects or people in the rear seat but monitors rear door usage for up to 10 minutes before or during a trip, and when the driver turns off the vehicle.  An alarm sounds five chimes and displays a warning on the driver information center screen, prompting a second look in the back seat. A GMC staff engineer and mother of two, Tricia Morrow, led the development of the technology.

It is as tragic statistic that about half of the heatstroke deaths of children under age 14 occur because caregivers mistakenly leave children in cars. Since 1998, more than 660 children across the United States have died from heatstroke when unattended in a vehicle. During September’s back-to-school season and Baby Safety Month, Safe Kids Worldwide warns that changes in caregivers’ routines can lead to children being forgotten in cars.

Young children are particularly at risk as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s.  When a child’s internal temperature gets to 104 degrees, major organs begin to shut down. And when that child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child can die.

Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization of 400 coalitions across the U.S. and funded by General Motors, developed a system called ACT to help remind caregivers not to leave children in cars.  The acronym focuses on avoiding heatstroke by never leaving a child in a car, creating reminders that a child is riding in the car, and taking action by calling 911 if a child is left alone in a car.

Safe Kids warns that children get left behind by loving, caring parents simply because they become distracted, and that these accidences are more common with new parents who are sleep-deprived or when a parent’s routine is disrupted.