When the calendar says so long to summer and welcome to fall, there’s one conundrum for kids from Atlanta to Albany, and Sandy Springs to St. Simons: finding the perfect pumpkin.
This year, skip the trip to the grocery store to pick up a pumpkin, and forge a new family tradition — a tradition that includes goats, slides and hayrides.
Head to one of the region’s pumpkin patches to enjoy some time with the family firing corn guns, feeding farm animals and making corn angels.
“We have a little bit for everybody,” Rodney Miller from the Buford Corn Maze said. “It’s a family-friendly destination and we have the corn maze of course, you can get lost in there and spend a long time. We’ve got hayrides. We’ve got jumping pillows. We’ve got baby calves. We’ve got alpacas. We’ve got baby pigs. We’ve got cow trains. We’ve got corn boxes. We’ve got all kinds of great things.”
“We were like, ‘Hey, let’s have a family trip together,’ and the Buford Corn Maze was where we decided to go,” visitor Timothy Freeman said. “We’re having a blast.”
“They’re going to see Peter Pan fighting Captain Hook, and going to see Tinkerbell in the corner along with a ship and the ocean,” Mathew Hughes from Uncle Shuck’s said. “It’s a fun design this year. The kids seem to really love it and I was surprised at the amount of adults that are like, ‘Peter Pan.’”
Uncle Shuck’s corn maze offers 15 acres of mazes, five miles of trails and 12 checkpoints. At the Buford Corn Maze, they plant 34,000 plants per acre to create a dense labyrinth.
All three farms represent two of Georgia’s top economic generators: agriculture and tourism.
“Agritourism is actually one of the fastest growing segments of tourism,” Miller said. “It’s just exploding everywhere because people have that desire to get back to the simple things of life. When you walk around this farm, you are reminded of those simple days when we were all growing up.”
Agritourism produces $3.2 billion dollars in state and local tax revenue. And while some agritourism businesses began in that industry, others like Warbington Farms made the transition.
“Our family has owned the lands since the 70s,” Heard said. “We had a chicken house. We had 500,000 laying hens and in 2010, we got out of that business and into the agritourism business, and we bought 10,000 strawberry plants and we were so worried about how we were going to sell all those strawberries.”
It worked out for Warbington Farms. It sold the strawberries from all 10,000 plants that year. This year, it bought 60,000 plants.
While parents can claim these trips are all about the kids, adults can have plenty of fun while making memories, too.
“There are a lot of families, a lot of repeating families,” Hughes said. “Some of them, this is a tradition for them and some of our photo opportunities, it’s great to see the old photos where the kids (were) less than three feet tall and now, they’re six feet tall.”
In the current state of affairs with COVID-19, the good news is that visitors don’t have to travel far to find a farm. They’re outside and these farms sit on dozens to hundreds of acres, so social distancing typically isn’t a problem.
“It’s all about seeing what’s there, what’s possible and also making memories. That’s the biggest thing, making sure you have the moment when you can say 10 years down the road, ‘Hey, you remember when you were lost in the corn maze.’ It’s all about those things.” Freeman said.
And while you’re there having fun, don’t forget a pumpkin.
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