Whether it’s sipping tea at the Clipper Merchant Tea House, sitting by the crackling fire at the Jeremiah Mason House or setting off on a hike, western York County has a lot to offer visitors and locals alike.

On Thursday, as the rain poured down outside, Kyle Osborne, innkeeper of the Jeremiah Mason House on Main Street in Limerick, spoke about the area and all its charm as the fireplace warmed the sitting room of the bed and breakfast. She and her husband, Tom, have owned the property since 2001.

For now, things are busy, but when the weather starts to trend cooler and the precipitation becomes more solid, the area will begin to quiet for the winter.

Before that happens, however, Osborne said the area has much to offer visitors, from the tea house to the Custom House Antiques Gallery across Main Street to the toy store and other local spots. For those seeking Maine’s famous fall foliage, Osborne directs them to the 40 acres of conservation land nearby, owned by the town’s historian, Jane Bryant, or to Mt. Cutler in Hiram.

Another favorite of visitors is 19th Century Willowbrook Village in neighboring Newfield.

Willowbrook Director John Michalowski Jr. said although the season wraps up Monday, the farmers market there will continue through most of November, with a Harvest and Holiday Fair Nov. 9-10. Private events, such as parties and weddings, may also take place after the regular season, depending on their size.

For those looking for their last fill of the museum’s exhibits and grounds, the site will be open through the holiday weekend and extra rides are planned today and Monday on the 1894 carousel.

Back in Limerick, Osborne also directs visitors to experience “high tea” at the Clipper Merchant Tea House, just a few doors down.

At the tea house, owner Heather Labbe is happy to take visitors on a tour of the different rooms and is quick to tell people about the Custom House Antiques Gallery across the way. She helps to run the gallery, which was purchased by and benefits the New England Lab Rescue, of which she is the founder. The group places Labrador retrievers in homes around the region.

The tea house serves tea sandwiches, baked goods, homemade soups, desserts, and of course, tea.

“People love tea time,” said Labbe.

Labbe said antiques are a major draw for fall visitors, as well as the foliage.

“It’s incredible,” she said of New England’s vibrant-colored treescape. “There’s nothing like it in the world.”

Busloads of “leaf peepers” have been traveling through the area, some stopping in the downtown area to get out and see the sights.

“The buses are going by like crazy,” Labbe said. “This weekend is supposed to be peak.”

Fall is her favorite, she said, because it’s her birthday, and it’s “quintessential autumn ”“ beautiful.”

Birthdays seemed to be a theme Thursday at the tea house, as two groups of women were there to celebrate separate occasions.

Luci Carr of Limington was there with friends in the China room and said the food was delicious. She has been enjoying cool and crisp weather of another fall in Maine, she said.

In the Hawthorne Room, Jackalyn Cote, who lives in Limerick, was also celebrating her birthday. She said she was pleased to return to the tea house, and commented that the area seems to be having a good season.

“I think Main Street has been busier this year,” she said. “It’s such a pretty village.”

Osborne agrees.

Although she’s had a few cancellations due to rain, the Jeremiah Mason House has been booked pretty well through September and she has a few more big weekends ahead.

“The fall has been absolutely gorgeous,” she said.

Thanks to workshops at the Piper Ridge Horse Farm in town, and faithful patrons of the Fryeburg Fair and Willowbrook, the house has remained mostly full, she said. And as the only lodger in town, the 10 rooms often book well in advance.

More media attention has also given a boost to local businesses.

Osborne said an article a few years ago in the Boston Globe outlined places to stop in the region, and some guests even had the article in hand so they could travel the same route.

For Osborne, Limerick is home, and owning the B&B is more than she could have asked for, she said. Moving to Sanford at a young age, she’s lived in Maine for most of her life, and with three grandchildren nearby, she’s staying put.

“I love cooking, and I love hosting,” she said. “The people that come here are just incredible. They treat it like their home, and they treat Tom and I like family.”

For those who are on the fence about a visit to southern Maine ”“ and Limerick in particular ”“ Osborne says, “It’s worth the drive. People will be pleasantly surprised.”

— City Editor Robyn Burnham can be contacted at 282-1535, Ext. 329 or [email protected].



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