THE LOWER humidity and gentle breezes hint at the return of one of our favorite seasons. The earliest change in the leaves turns our thoughts to pumpkin patches, corn mazes, flannel shirts, and boots. These signs mark the return of autumn and the fall festival at Lyon Family Farms, but the memories we make there begin much earlier in the year.
Richard and Shelley Lyon begin preparations long before the first pumpkins grace the fields. A January trip to the Atlanta market to pick out gift shop items kicks off the work for each year’s festival. While we’re celebrating the summer holidays, the market order is coming in, and the gift shop is transforming for the changing season.
The Lyons are also busy during the early months of the year building new attractions for the coming festival during this time.
Richard said, “We’re doing this year-round. When we’re down for regular farming, we try to make our additions to the pumpkin patch. We try to always go around the middle of March and take farm tours to get new ideas so we can try to have something new every year for the customers when they come back.”
The fall festival is in its 18th year and continues to look for ways to provide things to do for all ages. Look for a new nine-hole putt-putt golf course this year.
“This year, we’ve also added a party barn for people to rent out a private space for birthday parties, church groups, and small groups. We have all the traditional things,” he said. “We added a huge corn barn last year with 5000 square feet of corn. We’re always trying to add new things to our gift shop [and] little things around the farm, such as Gaga ball, chicken trucks, and especially the animal pens. About 55 to 60 attractions are available at the farm, and all are included with your admission ticket. You don’t pay anything extra when you come in except for your pumpkins, souvenirs, and food.”
It takes a staff of around 150 people to keep things running smoothly for the event, including those necessary to operate the nine food stations. Many local students find seasonal employment throughout the year on the farm, adding to the value offered by the Lyon family.
Although it’s hard work year-round when added to the working farm, the couple loves what they do.
“I like seeing people spending time with their families. I think we’re both host persons at heart. Instead of being the one out there in the middle of everything, we want to be behind the scenes so that everybody else can have fun and provide a place for extra time with their families,” said Richard.
Shelley adds another perspective.
“I love what Richard said, but my favorite thing is getting there before everybody else if I can, early in the morning, and just looking out over everything; how peaceful and quiet. It’s in such a beautiful setting with the sun coming up over the farm, and everything is absolutely gorgeous. I love the outside — the trees, the ground, the grass — nature,” Shelley said. “And I love seeing how everything comes together because I know what it came from when it started and how it started. It can be kind of a wreck right before we open, but within two or three days, everything just gets where it’s supposed to be, and it’s absolutely beautiful.”
From families to school and church groups and everything in between, the fall festival is a staple in our memories, something we look forward to year after year. Being part of something that creates traditions is meaningful to the Lyons.
Richard said, “Part of what makes it rewarding is hearing those people saying, ‘This is our fifth year to come camp here.’ The kids are asking about it right now during the summer. That gives you a lot of good positive feedback. It helps when things aren’t going right, something’s broken, or somebody’s not happy. That definitely helps.”
Each year, the venue grows, and there’s always more in store next year.
“We would love to be able to host larger events in the future. We have a stage at the farm and have had live entertainment on the weekends, and we’ve hosted some church events for youth groups. We’ve had multiple fundraisers at the farm and small youth revivals, and we really like that atmosphere where we can try to bless those around us with what God has blessed us with,” Richard said.
The fall festival at Lyon Family Farms is more than a pumpkin patch; it’s an autumn blessing! GN