ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — We officially move into the fall season next week, which means the Hilger’s family is getting ready to throw their annual Fall Festival.
Each year, Hilger’s Family Farm celebrates over a month of fall family fun but this year they have made some changes to accommodate COVID-19 concerns.
“It has gotten pretty crowded here in the past so we’re trying to spread things out,” said co-owner Joseph Hilger.
“Particularly in the barn so we put this tent up here so we move our register outside so that people don’t have to be next to each other,” added his wife and co-owner Elaine Hilger.
They are also adjusting some of their attractions, including enlarging their play area. Along with their standard playground, they plan to add a tire playground as well as a small straw maze. They also plan to limit the number of people allowed on hayrides and have purchased a buggy that families can book for a private ride around the farm if they are uncomfortable riding in the hay trailer with others.
Despite the pandemic, they are still expecting people to turn out for the festivities.
“We’ve noticed even during the summer people would come because we are outdoors,” said Elaine.
The family is asking visitors to consider stopping by during the week to help spread out the crowds.
“We usually have about 75 percent of our business on Saturdays and Sundays and so we’re trying to encourage people to come out during the week this year so we can still have the same amount of customers,” said Joseph.
The first frost is expected to happen overnight Friday, Sept. 18, one week before they kick off their festival. While most of their pumpkins are brought in from a farmer in Huntington County, the Hilgers do grow a small patch for people who prefer to pick their pumpkins off the vine. Joseph said while a frost would not be great for those pumpkins, they do not anticipate much damage.
“The first frost, and it’s a light frost, usually affects the outer leaves and so it kind of kills the plant,” said Joseph. “Like peppers, the peppers will be okay but the plant will die.”
He said their decorative plants are a different story. They planned to move those inside to help protect them from the elements.
As for picking out the best pumpkin, the Hilger’s say the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
“Let the kids have their choice,” said Joseph. “It’s their pumpkin, let them have a little pride in it. Point out the different things, make sure there’s no bad spots or soft or rotten spots, make sure the stem is solid and not weak. There’s a lot of things you can help them with, but let your children make their choice. This is one of the choices they can make that will make them feel good about themselves.”
The farm will officially kick off its fall festival next Saturday. It will be open Monday through Saturdays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Sundays from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
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