What says fall more that a pumpkin patch, a hay ride or an old-fashioned farm festival?
When October rolls around, it’s finally autumn on the Gulf Coast of florida. Several Beaches to Woodlands Tour events showcase the agriculture and history of Santa Rosa County, Fla. during the annual, month-long event that celebrates the arts, environment, culture and fun that the area has to offer.
Holland Farm Tours
Holland Farms offers a pumpkin patch and hayrides plus an old fashioned general story where visitors can buy fall produce, peanuts and more. Every visitor gets a free cup of boiled peanuts, and the site offers plenty of outdoor seating at picnic tables and front porch rocking chairs.
“Last year was the first year for the pumpkin patch,” said B.J. Holland. “We had a really good turnout. We make it quiet and peaceful and family friendly.”
Holland Farms tours teach about area agriculture as well, he said.
“Our hayride goes down through the fields and woods, and we stop and explain how different crops grown,” he said. “We’re making plans to add a few new things this year, too.”
Sweet Season Corn Maze
Spend an hour or spend a day lost in adventure at corn maze at Sweet Season Farms.
Sweet Season Farms owners Trent and Sharon Mathews and their children, Morgan and Lucas, have worked as a family to create a full day of fun in Milton that includes not only the maze but hayrides, a barrel train, a farm-themed playground, acorn cannon and a corn crib “sandbox.”
This is the third year for the event, which has drawn thousands of visitors out to the farm for a day of country fun.
The Mathews family planted the 5-acre field, and when the corn reached eight inches tall, a team from The Maize, a professional corn maze company, came to Milton and cut their custom design. The rest of the summer was spent watching the design take form as the stalks grew.
The big maze can take up to an hour to navigate, said Sharon Mathews.
“It depends on if you follow the straight path. If you know where you are going, it can take 20 to 30 minutes. We also have a small kiddie maze that takes only a few minutes,” Mathews said.
The Mathews hope the month-long event gives visitors not only an opportunity to tour a corn maze, but to get a close look at how food is grown and learn why agriculture is important in our daily lives.
“We’re very excited about the maze and all the fun we have planned around it,” Mathews said.
Jay Peanut Festival
For more than 20 years the Gabbert Farm has been home to the Jay Peanut Festival showcasing the history, agriculture, food and fun of Santa Rosa County.
The annual event covers 15 acres and draws 70,000 people to the family run farm located about 4.5 miles south of Jay. The 1930s farm museum and replica of a mid-20th-century John Deere implement dealership are two popular attractions at the site. The weekend also includes live music, arts, crafts, antique, new items, games, rides, rock climbing wall, an antique car show, pony and horse rides, wagon rides, train rides, buckboard rides, anvil shoot, and a grist mill. The festival wraps up with a Sunday church service and pet parade.
A variety of foods from Cajun to German are represented at the festival, along with traditional barbecue, hamburgers and hot dogs, funnel cakes, corn-on-the-cob, cotton candy, kettle corn, shaved ice, sno-cones and other festival favorites. And of course, peanuts any way you could want them – boiled, green, fried, candied and more.
So get out of town and into the country for old-fashioned fun during Beaches to Woodlands 2011!
Haystackular – Fridays 4 to 9 p.m, Saturdays noon to 9 p.m. and Sundays the first four weekends in October, noon to 6 p.m. Spooktacular events Oct 28 and 29 from 8 p.m. to midnight, at S.S. Dixon Primary School P.E. Field, 4560 Hwy. 90, Pace, Fla.
Holland Farms Tour – Homer Holland Rd., Milton, Fla. Open through November for tours. Pumpkin patch and hay rides. Participants each receive a free cup of boiled peanuts. Details: www.hollandfarmonline.com.
Sweet Season Farms Corn Maze – Sept. 24 – Oct. 30, Sat. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun. 1 to 5 p.m. at 2260 Horn Rd., Milton, Fla.. Details: www.sweetseasonfarms.com.
Jay Peanut Festival – Gabbert Farm, 3604 Pine Level Church Rd., Jay, Fla. Celebration of one of Santa Rosa’s staple crops: the peanut. Popular annual event marks its 22nd year and showcases farming life past and present and gives people a chance to experience country life.