GALLOWAY – While fall can be a time to rake the yard or plop down on the couch to watch football, it is also a time for seasonal outdoor fun, especially for families interested in outdoor activities with a Halloween theme.
There are a handful of farms in the area where adults and children can take a hayride, see farm animals, go pumpkin picking, explore a maze and more. Here are a few and what they offer.
R and J Farm, 723 W. Herschel St.
Owned by Rich and Joanne Collison, R and J Farm offers a haunted hayride, a walk-through Cornfield of Terror, and a flashlight maze at night, and traditional pumpkin picking, hayrides and a corn maze by day. Hours are noon-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon-10 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, and 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. Prices run from $5 for a hayride to $14 for the Cornfield of Terror; combination tickets are available. For information call 609-593-6180 or see randjfarm.com.
Rich Collison said R and J has found its niche among farms offering Halloween activities.
“We have more nighttime stuff. Since we’re competing with other farms we have to have something different like the Cornfield of Terror,” he said.
Julie Bergman of Ventnor headed to R and J Farm Thursday, Oct. 13 to celebrate her 42nd birthday with her 4-year-old daughter, Maeve. Also part of the birthday crew were Maeve's grandmother Kathy McGuigan of Margate, and Caden Kummings, 3, and his mother Jennifer Kummings, both of Northfield.
They opted for non-scary activities like pumpkin picking and the corn maze.
“Sometimes it gets confusing finding your way,” Kummings admitted, with Maeve chiming in that they followed a line.
“There is so much for the kids to do and everyone is so nice,” Kummings said. “It was a great way to spend the day and get excited for Halloween. We can't wait to take the older kids back at night for the haunted hayride.”
Victory Farms, 324 S. Mannheim Ave.
Owned by the Darpino family, Victory Farms offers hayrides, pumpkins, farm animals, baked goods, fresh squash and a kids corn box, which is similar to a sandbox but filled with dried corn. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Prices start at $3. For information call 609-965-0600 or see victoryfarmsllc.com.
Debbie Darpino said this is their fourth season operating the farm.
“Every year we do a little better. We really strive to be clean and green,” she said.
She said they are promoting the great pumpkins available this year, along with straw and other decorative items for sale for Halloween displays. They also sell pumpkin bread and pies, cookies and cakes.
Preschoolers from Leeds Avenue School in Pleasantville who visited the farm Thursday, Oct. 13 were busy popped feed into shoots for the farm critters, which included goats, a miniature horse, an alpaca and two pigs. They also got to take a hayride.
Students Nea and Kali Davis, whose father, Maurice Davis, and grandmother Hattie Mason joined them for the school outing, sat on bales of hay and played with classmate Jensen Mejia-Sanchez, 3.
Jensen's mother, Theresa Sanchez, said her son spent much of the day jumping and laughing.
After the outing school staff said the children it was a wonderful learning experience.
Karen Lawlor of Galloway and her son Keller, 3, visited the farm with the group Mothers of Preschoolers, or MOPS, of Beacon Church in Galloway. Showing her son how to put the feed into the shoot to feed the pigs, she it was a wonderful way to spend time with the children.
Sahl’s Father Son Farm, 420 W. Pestalozzi Ave.
Sahl's Father and Son Farm offers hayrides, corn mazes, a pumpkin patch, pig races, pedal carts, a bounce pit, a sand pit, and flashlight self-guided tours through the mazes. Hours are 4-7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday. General admission is $10; family and group rates available. For information call 609-965-9300 or see fathersonfarm.com.
The farm sells orange and white pumpkins. This is the eighth year it has done a corn maze. Jeremy Sahl, co-owner, said each year the family likes to select something that is special to South Jersey for the corn maze design, and this year's design features the logo for the Cape May County Park and Zoo.
“My wife and I both have great memories of the Cape May County Zoo from when we were kids,” Sahl said. “We still love taking our kids there now. We figured this is part of what makes South Jersey such a great place to live.”
His sons Nathan 9, and David, 7, had fun zipping around the track on pedal carts and running through the mazes.
Visitors have more than 8 acres of corn mazes to navigate. The pedal carts are for all ages, Sahl said.
“We aren’t just a corn maze and a pumpkin patch,” he said. “We have a lot of families come out for the flashlight maze. We try to catch the whole family. We don’t haunt, but little ones all the way to teens have a good time.”
Butterhof's Shady Brook Farm, 5800 Black Horse Pike
A family farm that has been in business for more than 150 years, Butterhof's operates a corn maze through Oct. 31. Hours are 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and weekdays by appointment. The farmstand sells baked goods, produce and fresh cut flowers through October. For information and prices email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 609-965-1285 or 609-965-4696, or see shadybrookfarmnj.com.
Email Madelaine Vitale at email@example.com.