The Northern Shenandoah Valley is full of family fun this fall with numerous pumpkin patches, corn mazes and other autumn activities.
Donna Koon, who operates The Pumpkin Patch on Berryville Pike (Va. 7) near the Frederick/Clarke County line, says she started the 10-acre pumpkin patch “many years ago” when her son was in FFA and had an idea to grow pumpkins. It has grown into an annual fall attraction featuring traditional pumpkins, white ghost pumpkins, goose bump pumpkins, mellow yellow pumpkins and pumpkins for cooking.
A scavenger hunt maze and a pumpkin slingshot round out the fun at the seasonal business, along with homemade baked goods, apples, and arts and crafts.
“I like getting to see my customers coming back and watching their children grow here,” Koon said recently. “I think they come back because everything is local, and we grow most of everything except my mums. We’ve grown every year, with the maze, the play area and now the slingshot.”
The pumpkin slingshot lets children — and adults — shoot small- or medium-sized pumpkins at hay bales.
The Pumpkin Patch, which helps to support the family-operated Edge-Wood Dairy, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. It will host a children’s costume contest at 2 p.m. Oct. 31 for ages 3-6 and 7-12. Prizes will be given to winners and runner-ups.
Down the road at Wayside Farm Fun at 5273 Harry Byrd Highway (Va. 7) near Berryville, there's a 10-acre corn maze, pumpkin patch and pig races. Wayside Farm Fun is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Monday. Visit waysidefarmfun.com for more details.
In Frederick County, West Oaks Farm Market at 4305 Middle Road has a corn maze that boasts more than 3 miles of paths. A pumpkin patch as well as apple picking and hay rides are just a few of the other offerings. Live music also continues throughout the fall. Hours for the pumpkin patch and corn maze are 10:30 a.m.-6 pm. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday. To find out more, go to westoaksfarm-market.com.
Marker-Miller Orchards and Farm Market at 3035 Cedar Creek Grade offers apple picking, pumpkins and other fall fun for families. Check out markermillerochards.com.
Richard's Fruit Market at 6410 Middle Road will have its Apple Festival & Farm Party from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Visitors will find lots of apples, farm food, a beer and wine garden, and lawn games. There's also a petting zoo for kids. For more details, visit richardsfruitmarket.com.
The Pumpkin Patch at Hill High Farm at 933 Barley Lane is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through Oct. 28. During the daytime, folks can enjoy a hayride out to the pumpkin patch, where they can pick their own pumpkin. They also can get lost in a large corn maze. When you’re done that, the Packing Shed store is open. Visit the pumpkin-patch.net.
If you’re looking for something spookier, Haunted Nightmares at Hill High Farm could be right up your alley. A 5,000 square-foot walk- through haunted house with live actors, and five different 10-minute escape rooms are available. The corn maze is open at night, and moonlit hayrides are available. Nighttime events are open from 7-10 p.m. Friday, until 10 p.m. on Saturday and until 5 p.m. on Sunday. Visit hauntednightmares.net.
In Shenandoah County, Sycamore Banks Farm at 448 Whitehall Lane in Mount Jackson is open Friday through Sunday for pumpkin picking and horse-drawn hayrides through the patch, which is $10 for a pumpkin of your choice. Customers can also pay $40 to fill up a wagon or choose pumpkins that are individually priced. The patch is open 2 p.m. to dark on Friday, 9 a.m. to dark on Saturday and 2 p.m. to dark on Sunday.
Farm owner Cheyenne Rhodes started growing pumpkins a few years ago with her husband and would haul them to produce auctions. They decided that was a little hectic for them. So, they decided to open the patch.
“We love it. We’ve been on the farm for six years, so we’re really still quite new. We still have people come in who have lived in Mount Jackson their entire life and didn’t even know we were back here,” Rhodes said. “We both came from farms, so farming is in our blood and we wanted to continue that. As most people in agriculture know, it’s a pretty difficult industry to get into and to have a sustained income in. So the big thing for young farmers is to diversify and find as many different ventures that we can. … We have a lot of things going on, but the pumpkin patch was a way for us to get people to the farm and let them see a working farm.”
The farm will also host a few events this fall. From 6-9 p.m. Oct 15, it will have its first farm-to-table dinner, Sycamore Banks Supper & Spirits. Pumpkin Patch Date Day is from 2-5 p.m. Oct. 17. The event is $85 per ticket and includes a 15-minute photo session with Ashley Robinson Photography, a horse-drawn hayride, a pumpkin of your choice, two sets of cookies from Chickadee Sweets and two coffees from Woodstock Cafe in a souvenir mug. Check out Sycamore Banks Farm on Facebook.
Valley Star Farm at 1104 Springfield Road in Luray is offering free admission to its pumpkin patch this year while encouraging folks to donate to Choices of Page County, Life Center of Page County and Angel Flight Mid Atlantic. Though activities in the farm’s Playland have been cut back, the corn maze and pumpkin patch are sure to provide fun. The maze, which changes yearly, also offers a challenge of finding six different farm animal boards along the way.
If you’re not looking for corn mazes or haunted houses, plenty of farmers markets across the region have pumpkins, apples and other fall fare for sale, like Mackintosh Fruit Farm at 1608 Russell Road in Clarke County, Cline Farm Market at 920 Hopewell Road near in Clear Brook, Virginia Farm Market at 1881 N. Frederick Pike near Winchester and Spring Valley Farm Market at 2454 Northwestern Pike, also near Winchester.
A listing of more farms, markets and orchards is available at visitwinchesterva.com.