Fall Festival at Soergel Orchards is 'best time of the year'
The thing Amy Soergel loves most about farm life is that there's always something coming up.
Fall, however, is something special at the Wexford orchard her family owns.
“It's the best time of the year,” she said. “This is what we work all year for, really, is this harvest and this time of year.”
The annual fall festival is under way on weekends through the end of October at Soergel Orchards on Brandt School Road.
The festival will run Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and this year they've also added several weekday dates to take the pressure off people who may not want to come on the weekends. For the next three Wednesdays in October, from 5 to 7:15 p.m., guests are welcome to come and enjoy the amenities.
“There will be hayrides and pumpkin picking,” Soergel said.
“No games or activities, but the Food Barn will be open. It's designed for people who just want to get there after work and before the kids go to bed. And the market and gift barn will be open. It's something new we're trying this year and we'll see what people think.”
For those who want the full experience of the weekend — Soergel estimates they have about 5,000 to 6,000 visitors each weekend — the list of things to do will include games and activities such as ring toss, face painting, pumpkin painting, sand art, a bounce house, a train and pony rides.
For the over-21 crowd, they'll have Arrowhead Wine, Arsenal Cider and Boyd & Blair Vodka to sample.
Food options include smoked meats and wings from the Back 40 BBQ, burgers, hot dogs, mac and cheese, pulled pork and roasted corn.
The biggest attractions, of course, are hayrides, pumpkin picking and apple picking.
“We never miss it,” said Janice Rau. “It's our family tradition.”
The festival started as just one day many years ago, and Soergel remembers being involved in one way or another her whole life.
“I was just joking with my cousins the other day about how we all were working the fall fest in middle school, taking tickets and working the food booths,” she said.
“That's who staffed it was all the cousins. Now we have a group of about 75 students and adults who help us. But I remember my parents would hire a babysitter for the fall fest until we got old enough to work, then they put us to work. It's been as long as I can remember.”
One of the things Soergel says is best about the festival is that there is no cost to enter. All the activities are priced individually, so families on a budget can still come and have a fun day.
They sometimes have people come at 10 a.m. and walk around the market so that by 11 a.m. they're among the first for the festivities, but there really isn't ever a “slow time.”
“Truthfully, it doesn't take long until it's packed,” she said.
Karen Price is a Tribune-Review contributor.