| Beacon Journal
With the sun poking through clouds over Ramseyer Farms in Wayne County, adults and children found pieces of normalcy in corn mazes, a pumpkin patch and dozens of other outdoor activities.
Tire patch, giant slides, a giant corn barn corn and a tot-size Conestoga wagon train, anyone?
Ramseyer Farms, between Smithville and Wooster, is among area farms and orchards not letting the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to annual fall traditions.
Ramseyer, which stopped growing potatoes a few years ago, is in its 21st season of agritainment, or agritourism.
“We’ve been kind of cooped up. This is really nice for them to see other kids,” said Tabitha Chapman, 35, who lives outside Mansfield, as she watched two of her children race pedal cars on the Spudway at Ramseyer Farms.
“I was glad they’re open. All the kids can go out and enjoy the summer before the winter hits,” said Phil Hess, of Brunswick, as his son, Wilson, 6, was preparing to go down one of the big slides.
State mandates designed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, however, have prompted changes at Ramseyer Farms, off state Route 585 in Wayne Township, and other spots going forward with their agritainment.
Masks are required indoors — such as in country stores — and outside when a distance of at least 6 feet cannot be maintained between groups.
At Ramseyer, masks are required on hayrides, and signs encourage visitors to maintain social distance.
“Every hour or two, we’re cleaning all the touchpoints,” Karen Ramseyer said. “We’ve spaced things out more. We have close to 60 hand sanitizer stations … we’re limiting the number of visitors.”
She advises people wanting to visit on the weekend to purchase tickets online to ensure availability. Go to https://ramseyerfarms.com. Ramseyer Farms is open Tuesday through Sunday and the season runs through Oct. 31.
This Saturday and Sunday and Sept. 26, the farm will host its third annual Sunflower Days, featuring more than 9 acres of the flowers.
French fries made from farm-fresh potatoes (the Ramseyers get the taters from a relative now that they are no longer growing them) and concession eats will be for sale, as they are on Friday through Sunday all season
See the farm’s website or call 330-264-0264 for ticket prices and information on Sunflower Days and food available during the week and on various weekends. There is no admission fee to pick pumpkins.
Corn mazes are among the most popular attractions at Ramseyer Farms, and there are again two: the traditional Ohio maze — with paths that meander around the shape of the state — and the annual Mystery Maze, which this year is dubbed Farm Story.
“We keep spreading things out … When I look around, I see people are separated. They can socially distance. I think we’ve done all that we can,” said Ramseyer, whose daughter, Jenna, is operations manager and spends much of the off-season planning for the upcoming fall.
Ramseyer Farms is located at 3488 Akron Road, Wayne Township.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday.
Derthick’s Corn Maze
At Derthick’s Corn Maze and Farm Experience in Portage County, Mary Ellen Derthick Hamlin is especially happy these days that the Mantua Township farm is on a hill. It’s the second-highest point in Portage, she says.
“Typically, there’s a breeze,” she said, creating lots of natural ventilation.
Experts say being outside and natural ventilation can reduce transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Derthick’s — which begins its regular season this Friday — has lowered the cost of daily admission from $12 to $10 as it had to remove some attractions, such as the corn box play area, because of COVID-19 concerns.
The animals won’t be in a barn for viewing. Instead, visitors will be will be able to see some animals in the pasture. And there won’t be any pony rides.
But, Hamlin, said, “there’s still a lot to do.”
The pumpkin patch will be open, the Bouncing Cow train will be running, the air cannon will be available and the two zip lines, where people pay $5 for a 300-foot zip above grass, will be up.
One of this year’s two mazes is the shape of the Statue of Liberty, and the other is the shape of the head of an eagle. Both mazes will feature clues to solve a farm mystery.
Hamlin said she and family members decided to go forward with the fall activities once they saw that farm markets were operating successfully amid the pandemic.
“The agricultural tourism is really what helps the farm survive,” she said.
Derthick’s is located at 5182 State Route 82, Mantua Township.
Maze hours are 6 -11 p.m. Friday, 1-11 p.m. Saturday (last tickets are sold at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday) and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday (last tickets are sold at 4:30 p.m.).
Apple orchard offerings
Northeastern Wayne County boasts two apple orchards, Rittman Orchards and Bauman Orchards, that have switched things up this year because of the pandemic.
Dianna Bauman of Bauman Orchards in Rittman this year is calling three consecutive Saturdays — this Saturday, Sept. 26 and Oct. 1— Harvest Days. They’re trimmed-down version of Bauman’s previous fests.
On the three Saturdays, Bauman Orchards will offer homestyle doughnuts for purchase, pony rides, and a visit with farm animals. Children will be able to paint their own pumpkins and a food truck will be on hand. Pick-your-own apple season began earlier this week.
But this year there won’t be any wagon rides, petting zoo or hay maze, which previously has been in a barn.
Despite the pandemic, sales are doing better at the orchard store than in past years.
The store features a variety of baked goods, fresh vegetables, fruits (including apples, of course) and jams, jellies and other jarred edibles.
“A lot of people are doing a lot more canning,” Dianna Bauman noted.
Bauman Orchards is located at 161 Rittman Ave., Rittman.
It’s open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
At Rittman Orchards in Doylestown, COVID-19 concerns prompted owners to cancel the traditional fall fest that ran consecutive weekends.
But the farm market is open and the pick-your-own-apples portion of the orchard will open Sept. 22.
Pick-your-own customers will be able to finish filling bags with apples from the orchard’s farm market if they want to try varieties not available for picking.
A cautionary note: There are only 17 people allowed in the orchard’s farm market at one time because of COVID-19 restrictions. Don’t be shocked if a line forms on weekends, Rittman Orchards notes on its website.
Rittman Orchards is located at 13548 Mount Eaton Road, Doylestown.
It’s open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Bent Ladder — which sells hard cider and wine and is at Rittman Orchards — is open noon to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday .
While seating is outdoor only for now, it comes with quite a view — a large pond and a rural valley.
The Bent Ladder hosts musicians performing outside most Friday and Saturday nights. Food trucks are frequently on site.
Harvest Days at Hale Farm
In Summit County, while the Hale Harvest 5K run is canceled this year, Hale Farm & Village, the farm and collection of historic structures in Bath, is going forward with its Harvest Days. They will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 3-4 and Oct 10-11. Masks will be required.
Featured will be an apple cider press pumpkin patch, apple butter making, kettle corn, farmyard animals, a fall nature hunt and more. Members of the Akron Symphony Orchestra will play in the Broom Barn Oct. 3 and Oct. 10.
Various activities deemed “high touch” have been removed.
Hale Farm is located at 2686 Oak Hill Road, Bath.
Beacon Journal reporter Katie Byard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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