At first glance, I’m not very southern. I don’t like sweet tea, I prefer living in the city, and “y’all” isn’t a word I use very often, if at all. In fact, I’ve lived on the other side of the world, twice; I probably resemble every place on the planet except for the American South.
That is until Fall arrives.
Nothing brings out the little country girl in me quite like Autumn. As soon as I smell the cold coming, I throw on a sweater and boots, pour myself a spiced apple cider and sit anxiously by the window as I wait for the leaves to fall. Most southern of all, perhaps, is the sudden itch that I get to go and visit a farm. Only after September do I have such a strong desire to sit on a hay bale and pet a cow and pick an apple and roast a hot dog over an open fire, but by God, if my lust for rural charm isn’t insatiable. As much as I may try to stifle it, the NC native in me will always be there in my heart, just waiting for the day that I can hop on a tractor and relish in the scent of decaying leaves.
With the harvest season rounding the corner, we here at BoLKN have created a handy-dandy list of our Favorite Local Farms for Fall Fun to help you prepare for this year’s pilgrimage.
*Just looking for a pumpkin? Check out our article on LKN Pumpkin Patches! This article features smaller fields and farmers markets for those who are just looking to grab a gourd and go.
From its breathtaking quarry views and sprawling green hills to the passion and warm hospitality of its owners, there are a plethora of things to love about Carrigan Farms. However, it’s not just a beautiful piece of land—it’s a beautiful piece of history. A 5th generation family-owned business, the farm was born in the 1750s as the Carrigan family settled in the town of Mooresville. In the early 1900s, primary crops included tobacco and cotton before the operation slowly began transitioning toward dairy. Now, under the management of horticulture expert Doug Carrigan and Agronomy aficionado Kelly Carrigan, the farm produces such wonderful fruitage as strawberries, pumpkins, apples, and asparagus. In addition to their job as farmhands, Doug and Kelly have also become quite the hosts, opening their beautiful space up for the whole community to enjoy. While it’s home to many a field trip, wedding, and swimming party year-round, the autumn brings a special selection of seasonal festivities to Carrigan Farms. Visitors can enjoy activities such as pumpkin and apple picking, hayrides, bonfires, a petting zoo, and even a haunted trail!
- Apple Picking Tour: Though 2021 was not a great year for apples, the staff at Carrigan has assured its loyal patrons that there’s still much fun to be had this season.
- Pumpkin Picking Tour: Throughout the month of October, Carrigan Farms will be hosting a Pumpkin Picking experience, with shuttles running to and from the patch every day. Admission is $12 per person aged 2 and older and includes a hayride, a trip to the petting zoo, and a pumpkin of your own pickin’. Tours generally last around 50 minutes, and concessions are available for purchase via a food truck. Reservations are required for pumpkin picking. All payments are cash-only.
- Private Events/Parties: Carrigan Farms allows guests to reserve space for private events of all sorts. Larger groups looking to take advantage of the season can rent space and equipment for fully-catered bonfires and picnics with the option to include fun extras such as fishing, bounce houses, climbing walls, canoeing, popcorn machines, face painting, clowns, DJs, and live music.
- Scarrigan Farms Haunted Trail: To celebrate Halloween, the farm gets a bit more Scarrigan on select nights with its haunted trail event. Attendees will set out on foot to traverse a heart-pounding mile of wooded terrain populated by professional actors. When it comes to the tricks and spooks guests might encounter during their trek, Carrigan Farms has stated that “anything is fair game.” With this in mind, the haunted trail is only open to teens and adults. Admission is $35-$40 per person and includes a meal voucher ($5 value) for the Quarry Kitchen. Reservations are required to participate. All payments are cash-only.
With a legacy spanning over a century, Patterson Farms is committed to putting its rich history to good use. After founding Patterson Farm Incorporated in 1992, the business has since become an educational and recreational keystone through its community outreach and academic programs. While farmers and local craftsmen gather daily to promote their goods alongside Patterson produce at the market, the property also hosts fun, hands-on experiences such as field trips, pick-your-own tours, and seasonal festivals to give folks a good laugh while they learn about what’s on their plates.
- Fall Fun on the Farm: Patterson Farms offers an all-inclusive admission ticket to guests from September 25 – November 6. Activities include visits to the Barnyard, Pawpaw Carl’s Playground, the Corn Maize, a cow barrel train ride, a pumpkin patch tour, hayrides, and a Spookley puppet show. While pumpkins are not included in the ticket price, there is a wide assortment available for purchase.
- Market & Concessions: The Patterson Farms Market is open to the public Monday – Saturday from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm. and features a wide range of fresh and local products ranging from just-picked fruits and vegetables, seasonal favorites, and goodies such as jams, jellies, sauces, honey, country ham and sausage, livermush, bacon, eggs, and dairy (whoo-boy)! In addition to the edibles, little ones will even be able to find educational and farming toys and knick-knacks. If you’re anything like me, browsing might get your stomach rumbling; the market also sells hand-spun milkshakes and homemade ice cream, lemonade, fresh kettle corn, fudge, baked goods, kettle chips, and all sorts of other treats. Guests that are in for the long haul will also be able to get their hands on some heartier fare at the Snack Silo: pizza, corn dogs, cheeseburgers, chicken, BBQ, sandwiches, and other staples are available at bargain prices.
Once the home of John and Violet Davidson, Rural Hill is instilled with natural beauty and the wonder of generations past. The plantation was a key player during the Revolutionary and Civil wars, and continues to provide valuable insight about life in the 18th and 19th centuries to this day; the Davidson Journals are the basis for much of the state’s current research into and preservation of the Hill’s—and its inhabitants’—history. Aside from serving as a stark (but important) learning opportunity, Rural Hill is a working farm. The charm of rural life is alive and well in the fields, especially during the autumn season when the harvest is abundant and the air is crisp. Guests can enjoy a wide range of activities ranging from picturesque walking trails, historical tours, and one of the largest corn mazes in the Southeast!
- General Admission & Historic Tour: Rural Hill is open from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm on weekdays, and most Saturdays. General admission is $6 for adults aged 13 years and over, $4 for those between 5-12, and free for children under four. Tickets include access to the site’s eight historic structures, as well as a number of walking trails that encompass the 265-acre property. Guests are welcomed (and encouraged) to picnic on the fields, weather permitting.
- Amazing Maize Maze: From September 11 – November 7, visitors can participate in the Amazing Maize Maze, comprising over seven perplexing acres of corn! Tickets to the maze must be reserved in advance, but we can assure you that it’s an affair you won’t want to miss. Admission includes a farm-side hayride, visits to the pumpkin patch, a variety of outdoor games, access to walking trails, and of course, the maze! Attendees of nighttime timeslots will also be able to enjoy snacks around the bonfire. Click here for pricing information.
- Sheepdog Trials: Lastly but certainly not least on our list are the Sheepdog Trials, hosted on November 9 and 10. A fantastically fun way to bid autumn adieu, patrons will have the opportunity to watch as four-legged contestants and their handlers round up sheep. Other on-site activities will include refreshments from NoDa Brewing, Shelton Vineyards, and other vendors as well as Dog Sports demonstrations, children’s corners, historical presentations, tractor exhibits, hayrides, pop-up shops, and…pumpkin Chunkin’. If you’ve ever had the urge to hurl a large gourd 40 feet through the and watch its subsequent and magnificent splat, this one’s for you. All proceeds from the event will go toward the maintenance of Rural Hill.
Despite our hopes for 2021, the world still has a long road of recovery ahead of it. Luckily, autumn brings with it many opportunities to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and make the best of our found time with loved ones. As the weather cools down, we urge you to consider supporting local farms and other businesses as they do their best to stay afloat during these tough times. Whether you’re still socially distancing, doped up on vitamin C, or somewhere in between, LKN waits to accommodate you with open, sanitized, and loving arms.