By Whitney Lewis
It’s fall ya’ll! The leaves are changing and crunching underfoot, there’s hot apple cider, and pumpkin everything…yes! The best part of fall for me, though, is the annual trip(s) to the pumpkin patch. Our family is up for trying anything new and this year is no exception. We have been to several pumpkin patches in the area, but none come close to the love we have for Rader Family Farms in Normal, IL. As a family with young kids -4 years and 11 months- there are just so many activities for them to do.
—What to Expect—
Rader Farms has an incredibly warm and inviting feel to it. You walk in to a beautiful festive atmosphere and instantly feel like family. The farm offers several family photo opportunities with an orange couch set up, the scarecrow place-your-face photo boards, and of course the beauty of the pumpkin patch itself! With an array of pumpkins, gourds and decor to choose from, it’s nothing but pleasing to the eye. But then there’s food… Oh the food! Pumpkin coffee, Slop-the-Hog Sandwich, cookies, lattes and cappuccinos, fried corn dog, pulled pork BBQ, kettle corn, nachos, pretzels, sweet corn, caramel apple slushes, pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin rolls, and so much more! They didn’t forget the little ones for food either- special options for the kids include hot dog or a PB&J, sides and a Pumpkin sipper cup.
—Fun for the Kids—
There are an enormous amount of activities for kids of all ages. The little kids have the Duck Races, the Spider Web, and the Caterpillar/Ladybug Barrel Ride. There’s also The Little Village, which includes playhouses, a post office, and a little market, which are complete with mailboxes, food, and other fun accessories and is a huge hit with the little ones. The Wild Horses Swings are also wildly popular! The recycled tires are shaped into cute horses that your little one can swing, twist and spin around on. Kids can also play around in the Corny Bins while learning some interesting corny facts!
Older kids will have plenty of fun here too! There is a towering stack of straw bales called the Straw Castle which is fun to climb and explore. Two of the new activities this year are Corn Ball and the Barnyard Ball Throw. Each one is a physical activity and takes some skill! Corn Ball is a twist on volleyball- it has straw bales as a volleyball net with an exercise ball instead of a volleyball. It’s a challenge but very entertaining to watch! Barnyard Ball Throw is a three section game with baseballs, basketballs & footballs. The goal of the game is to aim for the holes in the backboard to earn points. Some friendly competition is inevitable in this activity.
—Fun for everyone—
Parents, rest assured, the kids won’t have all the fun! There are several activities everyone can enjoy. The Jumping Pillow calls to both kids and adults and is a favorite for obvious reasons. Go ahead, parents- jump and slide your way back to your childhood! Then there’s the Rodeo Round-Up. This is one of our family favorites because mom and dad can join in on the fun! Saddle up and challenge each other to see who can rope a steer. The whole family can also have tons of animal cuteness overload at The Barnyard. The Barnyard, is full of adorable animals to visit, pet and feed. Plan ahead and bring quarters for the goat feed- the kids will go crazy for this adorable activity!
Rader Farms has two corn mazes – The Kiddie Maze and the 10 acre corn maze.
The Kiddie Maze is great for children! At just one acre in size, kids have a chance to solve a mini mystery, which changes each year. The maze only takes about 10 minutes, a perfect amount of time to keep kids’ interest.
If you are looking for an extra fun challenge, go for the 10 acre corn maze. This maze does have an extra admission cost, but it will keep you busy wandering around for a while! Looking for something even more special? They also hold special Flashlight Maze Nights!
So, if you’re looking to make some memories of your own, pack up the family and head on over. You can certainly spend a full day at Rader’s and still have plenty left to do on your next visit! And since it’s affordable, you can do just that!
Rader Family Farms is open for the season until October 31, 2014. They are open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m.to 6 p.m. Please see the Rader Family Farms website for additional information including event pricing, entrance, fee, map, online pass reservation, and special announcements.
Whitney Lewis moved to Champaign with her husband nine years ago from small town Danville. She is a home daycare owner/provider and mother to two amazing little boys, 3 1/2 and 3 months. She enjoys crafting, reading, photography & party planning on a budget! There’s no such thing as a do-nothing weekend because she’s always on the hunt for a new project, craft, or fun activity with the kids. Life is busy but never boring!!