Maybe it is the falling leaves or the memory of warmer weather. Whatever the reason, autumn can bring a feeling of nostalgia, reminding us to appreciate the short season. From apple picking to watching Thanksgiving football, some Massachusetts fall traditions have stood the test of time.

Here is a brief history of six long-standing fall traditions in the commonwealth:

1. Leaf peeping at Mount Greylock

(L) A dirt road winding up to the summit of Greylock Mountain in the 1930s. (R) This road was paved over in 1973.
Courtesy of the Berkshire Historical Society

It doesn’t feel like autumn in Massachusetts until the trees start dressing for the season. Leaf peeping brings about 250,000 residents and tourists to Mount Greylock in Adams, Mass. annually. At nearly 3,500 feet — the highest natural point in the state — the summit offers panoramic views of western Massachusetts.

“During peak foliage, it is like a carpet of color,” said Alec Gillman of the Department of Conservation and Reservation. Visitors can picnic, camp or drive to the top. But these fall activities are only made possible because of the park's tradition of conservation.

In the late 1800s, the effects of industrialization stirred a group of residents to form the Greylock Park Association. The group purchased acres near the mountain’s summit to protect it from further destruction. After slowly losing money on the venture, the association turned the land over to the state in 1898, establishing the Mount Greylock State Reservation, which has maintained the area since, and environmental stewardship has remained a central focus of the park.

2. Education and entertainment at The Topsfield Fair

The first beekeeping exhibits were introduced to the Topsfield Fair in 1844 and continue today. (L) An observation hive from 1946. (R) An observation hive from 2017.
Courtesy of Topsfield Fair

The Topsfield Fair started more than 200 years ago as a members-only cattle show. Organized by the Essex Agricultural Society, the original event traveled around Essex County until it found a permanent home in 1910 on Treadwell Farm in Topsfield, where the fair is still held today.

“It started originally as a way for farmers to get together and kind of share best practices,” said David Thomson, the fair's spokesperson. By the 1920s, he said, the event had transformed, expanding membership, building structures and electrifying the fairgrounds for night programming.

Now the Topsfield Fair is a 10-day affair with musical performances, vendors, carnival rides, art exhibits and dozens of other activities. Its core mission continues, says Thomson.

“At the heart is agriculture, and because of that we have a very robust education program,” said Thomson.

The Topsfield Fair happens each October, ending on the second Monday of the month.

3. From apple picking to beer at Lookout Farm

Lookout Farm has transformed revenue resources. (L) A market at Lookout Farm in 1978. (R) Lookout Farm Brewing & Cider Company, photographed in 2019.
(L) Courtesy of (R) Lauren Jo Alicandro/WGBH News

Established as part of a settlement in 1651 by Puritan missionary John Eliot, Lookout Farm in Natick is one of the oldest continuously working farms in the US. The property passed through eight families before the current owner — the Belkin Family — purchased the farm in 2005. The farm spans 180 acres and maintains 65,000 trees.

The farm sells a variety of fruit including pears, peaches, plums and more than a dozen varieties of apples.

But the growing cost of operating a farm has transformed the business. Starting in the 1980s, the farm added attractions including train rides and a petting zoo, and in 2015 a brew house replaced the farm's market.

“We were looking around the farm, trying to figure out other ways to create revenue,” said Operations Manager Jay Mofenson. “Traditional farming is kind of a dinosaur these days, so you have to evolve to stay relevant.”

Mofenson said he hopes to update a rundown barn on the property for use as an event venue.

4. Memorials of the Salem witch trials

(L) The original Salem Witch Trials Memorial in the center of Salem, MA. (R) The new memorial at Proctor's Ledge near Gallows Hill.
(L) Courtesy of the Salem Witch Museum (R) Lauren Jo Alicandro/WGBH News

Salem is well-known as a center of Halloween tourism, offering both spooky amusement and a haunting history. Each October, the city hosts Haunted Happenings, a month of programming that includes parades, ghost tours and haunted houses. Looming behind the city's Halloween celebrations and witch-related tourism are the infamous witch trials of 1692.

During the Salem witch trials, 14 women and six men were accused of practicing witchcraft and sentenced to death. In 1992, the city built the Witch Trials Memorial — an enclosed space with locust trees abutting a graveyard — near the city’s center. Granite benches are built into the memorial's walls and inscribed with the name, and date and execution method of each victim. The original memorial continues to be a reminder of the tragic consequences of intolerance and hysteria.

Another marker was built in 2017 after researchers confirmed the exact location of the executions. The new memorial, called Proctor’s Ledge, designates the spot near Gallows Hill where the tragedies played out. Tucked into a residential area of Salem, granite stones stand in a semicircle, also displaying the names of the 19 killed.

5. Thanksgiving football rivalries

The Thanksgiving rivalry game has been played at multiple venues. (L) Boston University’s Nickerson Field in Boston. (R) Harvard Stadium in Cambridge, MA.
Courtesy of the Boston Latin School

Sometimes an ongoing grudge can be a tradition, especially when it comes to football. The oldest continuous high school football rivalry happens each year in Massachusetts on Thanksgiving Day between English High School and Boston Latin School in Boston — the teams have faced off annually since 1887, before which the schools played together on one team.

The once-unified teams will face off for the 132nd year, on Thanksgiving day at Harvard Stadium.

“The game changes, the kids change, but the atmosphere around the game really hasn’t,” said Boston Latin Athletic Director Jack Owens. "It’s just a great time overall."

The game brings alumni from both schools back to celebrate with a pep rally and tailgate, and the desire to win hasn’t disappeared. English Head Coach Ryan Conway — who, as a student, played in the rivalry’s centennial game — described conversations with former students:

“If you were to ask me, 'Would I want to win the Super Bowl, or would I want to win Thanksgiving?' I think it would be more important ... to win Thanksgiving.”

6. A family tradition: Table Talk Pies

Table Talk Pies distribution has grown to all 50 states. (L) A loading area of vans in Worcester's Kelley Square and (R) a contemporary branded distribution truck.
(L) Courtesy of the Worcester Historical Society (R) Courtesy of Table Talk Pies

Table Talk Pies have graced tables around Massachusetts since 1924, when two Greek immigrants — Theodore Tonna and Angelo Cotsidas — founded Table Talk Pastry Company in Worcester. They baked by night in a small, second-floor kitchen and sold pies out of their horse-drawn carriage by day, eventually selling to local diners and supermarkets.

Kara Smith, Table Talk Pies' manager of community partnerships, explained that the company’s name was inspired by the idea of bonding with family over dessert.

“Some of my favorite childhood memories are of sitting around the dining room table with my family and eating pie,” she said.

“I fell in love with pumpkin pie as 4 years-old when my grandfather took me to the bakery and let me eat a whole 8” inch pie by myself,” Harry Kokkinis, president of Table Talk Pies, said in an email. “I am proud to continue the legacy of my father and grandfather.”

The company now bakes more than 200 million pies per year in its three locations and distributes nationally.