Farms wind down after successful festival
SNOHOMISH - Local farms are closing up shop this month as another busy season of u-pick pumpkins, scary corn mazes and plenty of other “agri-tainment” attractions wind down for the year.
The annual Festival of Pumpkins celebrated its 10th year with six family-owned farms working together to make the Snohomish River Valley an attraction for families from all over the Puget Sound area. As many as 200,000 people made the trek to visit the farms and participate in the dozens of attractions.
Judy Craven of Craven Farm said her operation “held its own” this year,
keeping their economic success closely in line with the previous year.
The Festival of Pumpkins, which runs late September through Oct. 31, brings a huge source of economic wealth to the area and is a big part of helping these local farms thrive. Several farms tried out new attractions this year.
New at Craven Farm for 2012 was a Haunted Nightmare maze, which contributed a portion of its proceeds to the Snohomish Boys & Girls Club.
Though much of the nation is still recovering from the recent recession,
Craven said the downturn hasn’t affected them much.
“Mother Nature affected us more,” Craven said. “The wet, wet spring and the dry, dry summer didn’t give us as much from our crops or the quality that we’re used to.”
Craven said her farm only yielded half the amount of squash as usual this year.
Her staff has one more event to prepare for before they shut down for the season: Craven Farm will host an Antique Vintage Holiday Show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17. After that, the farm will be closed until February as staff prepares the farm for flood season.
Keith Stocker of Stocker Farms said the festival has succeeded in making Snohomish a fall tourist destination by helping the farms work together.
“We’ve been co-marketing successfully,” Stocker said. “We’re friends, neighbors and competitors, but we’re also collaborators. We’re bringing a lot of business to the region.”
He said the general attendance at his farm was up this year as it has been every one of the last 10 years.
Carol Krause runs The Farm at Swan’s Trail with her husband and family and said “overall, it was a good season” for them.
Although there were a few new farms this year with competing attractions, Krause still saw a lot of family folks pour into the valley.
“I think over the years, people in the area have recognized that Snohomish is the place to come for October,” Krause said.
In addition to having a 30-acre pumpkin patch, a 12-acre corn maze, wagon rides, and a petting farm, this year The Farm added a giant jumping pillow for the kids, kind of like an in-ground trampoline.
“It was a lot of fun,” Krause said, adding that they’ll definitely be bringing it back next year. “You can only use it when it’s not raining, but it was a big hit.”
The Thomas Family Farm on the corner of Highway 9 and Marsh Road enjoyed its first year opening up its farm to the public.
Co-owners Marvin Thomas, his wife Debbie, along with his brother Dennis and sister-in-law Debbie, worked on ideas to join the festivities as a way to help carry the 490-acre former dairy farm through the quiet winter months.
Marvin excitedly told the Tribune in September about the Zombie Safari Paintball Hayride he discovered while visiting St. Louis. Marvin liked the idea of the safe but fun and scary way to shoot paintballs at live, moving targets. He brought the idea back to their farm to add to the month-long fall festival.
Festival of Pumpkins coordinators want to make sure you know that your support for local farms is appreciated.
“As a group, the farms are a significant economic force in the Snohomish River Valley, providing jobs and locally grown, fresh produce. Remember, anytime you buy locally, your dollars are reinvested locally and support the entire local economy,” the organization’s website says.
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