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The fall season is typically full of trips to pumpkin patches, hayrides and family fun.
Despite the COVID-19 global pandemic, local farms made the necessary adjustments and have taken precautions to ensure another fun-filled fall activity season.
“We’re thankful to be here and to have the opportunity to provide these fun things for families to enjoy,” said Marcia Minor Opp, general manager of the SpringHouse Country Market on Route 136 in Washington.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some changes this fall, Opp said the SpringHouse is vibrant and has been flush with customers and visitors since the fall fun began late last month.
The SpringHouse provides tractor-drawn hayrides. the Corn Maze for “the Big Folks” and the Kiddie Korn Maze for the younger ones.
It also provides for pumpkin fields and a tube slide on the bale mountain.
The SpringHouse requires masks and social distancing and implemented a new plan this year to pay online in advance for a reservation for a hayride.
Opp said that system has worked wonderfully and expects to continue to use the online ticket-purchasing system going forward.
“We are doing half capacity on the hayrides,” Opp said. “We started to sell the tickets online to control the amount of people on each ride and to avoid long lines. Our customers and visitors appreciate it. They seem to like being able to buy tickets online. In fact, they loved it.
“We’ve had a great response,” she added. “I think people are looking for things to do and want to be out in the fields having some family fun. It’s been a blessing for everyone. We’re excited to have a place and plan to do this.”
Opp added the store has also benefited from the fall fun. She said the SpringHouse is selling more milk and the online ticket buying has helped get customers through the food line and to be able to find seating pretty easily.
“People have been great in buying cookies, food, meals, regular and chocolate milk,” she said. “It’s been an exciting time for all of us.”
At Simmons Farm in McMurray, hayrides and fall activities have been going on the last month as well.
Hayrides are limited to two-thirds capacity and masks are required. Sanitizing stations were added as was walking in the farm’s “Harvest Trail.”
The Simmons experience also includes a Flying Turtle Pen and Peddle car drag races, pumpkin corn hole, tire maze, tire lift, rubber duck races, five acres of pumpkins, a hay maze, slides, petting zoo and a four-acre corn maze and maze challenge, among other activities.
“We had to cut down on the capacity of the hayrides by one-third,” said Scott Simmons, co-owner. “It’s been good. We’ve had some complaints about having to wear masks and one saying we needed to stress mask wearing even more. We did get a little lax and we did become stricter with everyone having to wear them.
“It seems like people are enjoying themselves for the most part,” he added.
Sue Beinlich, general manager of Triple B Farms, Monongahela, said this year’s activities include purchasing tickets for hayrides and all public health practices are being utilized. Fall activities initiated in mid-September, Beinlich said.
In addition to hayrides, Triple B Farms is offering animal barn and education areas, two corn mazes, an observation beehive, Pumpinkland and jumping pillows. While apple picking is closed for the season, the farm reports there are plenty of farm fresh apples in its farm market.
“We had to change some things (because of) COVID-19,” Beinlich said. “Our hayrides are about one-third capacity.”
She said the move to online ticket purchasing has helped in social distancing.
“It’s allowed us to provide better safety to our visitors,” Beinlich said.
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