Yes, the days have been getting shorter. And, no, you're not imagining that chill in the evening air. If you want to stop denying autumn and start celebrating it, you could start by going to the 10th Annual Ellicott City Country Fair on Saturday.
The best the season has to offer -- scarecrows, cider, bluegrass music, Indian corn, square dancing, pumpkin painting, folk art, colonial crafts and apple pie -- will be arrayed in the parking lot of Ellicott Mills, the modern-day version of the late 18th-century flour mills that led to the founding of old Ellicott City on the Patapsco River.
"It's going to be crafts, food and living history," said Joanne Moroney, special events coordinator for the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks. "And it's especially aimed at families, to give them something they can do together."
Co-sponsored by the county and Historic Ellicott City Inc., the fair charges no admission and uses the proceeds from the sale of food and other items to help pay for historic restoration projects.
Fair-goers will be able to glimpse colonial life in the mysterious recesses of "Miss Betty's Trunk," a treasure-trove of colonial artifacts such as quill pens and an old mortar and pestle.
Otherwise known as Elizabeth Jackson, of Silver Spring, "Miss Betty" dresses in period costume and lets adults and children examine the contents of the trunk.
"They can write with the quill pens themselves," Moroney said. "They can try grinding corn with the mortar and pestle."
Will Priest will bring to life another aspect of colonial history, old maritime Maryland. Priest won't be hard to spot at the fair -- he'll be the one wearing the clothing of a 19th-century sailor and belting out a sea chantey.
To see history that relates to Ellicott City, visitors might want to check out the log cabin staffed by the county Tourism Council and view the slide show on the history of the town's main street.
For those who want a hands-on day at the fair, there is scarecrow making and pumpkin painting for a small fee.
Fair-goers might also want to try square dancing, under the direction of caller Andy Cisna, or clogging, after they watch cloggers perform to the music of Sprouts Old Timey Bluegrass Band.
There also will be demonstrations of decoy carving and quilt making. More than 80 juried artists and craftspeople will display their finished work, as well. Folk art, furniture, primitive paintings, baskets, jewelry, dried flowers, autumn door decorations and many other items will be on sale.
Vendors will have cider, pit beef, funnel cakes and the usual festival fare, with some added twists. Jonathan Ellicott Apple Pies, made from a colonial recipe by Leidigs Bakery of downtown Ellicott City, will also be on sale.
"We use a tart apple," said Christine "Cookie" Cook, of Leidigs. "It's from an old recipe that the historical people gave us."
Most of the money raised at the fair will be used to continue the restoration of the George Ellicott House on Old Frederick Road, across the street from the mill.
The house was built for George Ellicott, son of Andrew Ellicott, the British-born founder of the original Ellicott flour mill.
The two-century-old stone structure, which has been damaged by successive floods, has been moved from the river's floodplain to the other side of the road. It is across the street from the fair.
Officials of Historic Ellicott City say they hope the million-dollar restoration project will be completed by November.
The fair runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Extra parking is available at the George Howard Building, the county office complex and the Howard County Circuit Court building. A free shuttle will take people to the fair. The rain date is Sunday.