For Heather Stewart, the opportunity to watch her grandson feed George the giraffe at Pettit Creek Farms is a memory she will always cherish. The Calhoun resident visited the venue’s Pumpkin Fest during its opening weekend with her daughter, Morgan, and the 18-year-old’s nephew, 2-year-old Mason.
“We participated in the swings, pony ride, camel ride, corn maze, petting zoo, hayride and feeding all animals,” she said. “Feeding George the giraffe was the best for us.
“Never been that close to a giraffe and Mason loved it. Seeing Mason enjoying himself so much with all of the activities was the best part for us.”
Situated at 337 Cassville Road in Cartersville, Pettit Creek Farms’ Pumpkin Fest is open to the public today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Oct. 1 through Nov. 1 — Tuesdays to Fridays from 2 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission — $15 for adults, $12 for children and free for youth younger than 2 — covers the hayride, 2-acre corn maze, exotic petting zoo, pig races, duck race, ring toss, bean bag toss, corn hole, steer hay bale roping, stick pony race, scarecrow building, corn pit and stump tic-tac-toe.
“This was our first time here but we loved it and will be returning to see what they do at Christmas,” Stewart said. “I believe pumpkin patches and festivals are wonderful for making memories with your family. We love going to all the festivals and look forward to them.”
Like Stewart, Pettit Creek Farms owner Scott Allen also enjoys seeing endless “smiles and twinkling eyes” as kids explore his 80-acre farm. The children’s expressions are priceless as they take in the sights, sounds and scents of the venue.
“Watching the little kids when they smell animals for the first time and they wrinkle their little nose,” he said. “They’re used to diesel fuel but they’re not used to camels or goats and sheep. It’s hilarious.”
His resemblance to Santa Claus at this time of year also raises a few eyebrows from youngsters.
“I’ve got an electric sleigh that I ride around on,” Allen said. “It’s one we built with fiberglass on it for the reindeer. I ride around on my sleigh or on a golf cart. I usually have on a red shirt, which helps give you the illusion there.
“You see a little kid who’s fussing or whiny, and I’ll do a ‘ho, ho, ho, ho!’ Then you’ll see their eyes just freak out. Their little eyes will bug out, like — oh, they’re busted. Or they come up telling you what they want [for Christmas] and ask if you’re Santa Claus. Just dealing with happy people is I guess the thing I like.”
Along with seeing families connect with one another, Allen shared the annual festivities sometimes give couples a memorable start.
“We’ve had people propose in the pumpkin patch, where we’ll carve pumpkins that said, ‘Will you marry me?’ And had it hid for them over on the side,” he said. “We’ve had several of those.
“I get a pumpkin carver to carve it for them. Then I just hide it over there where the pictures are being taken. Then they come in and propose.”
Started as a two-week arts and crafts festival with about 140 vendors in the late 1990s, Allen’s fall offering has evolved every year. Veering away from the arts and crafts show, his monthlong Pumpkin Fest now features numerous components beyond selecting the perfect gourd. The event also consists of numerous activities for an additional cost, including Euro-Bungy, swings, aerial course, canopy tour, and camel and pony rides.
“Anybody can have a pumpkin patch,” Allen said. “Anybody can have a petting zoo.
“But there ain’t just any pumpkin patch that’s got 14 reindeer and a giraffe and kangaroos. We have the largest hayride in the Southeast, possibly the nation. My hayride is 110-foot-long from bumper to bumper,” he said, adding its course is a nearly 2-mile gravel road.
While the majority of the Pumpkin Fest’s patrons hail from Bartow County and metro Atlanta, its draw is wide reaching, with previous attendees residing in South Korea, Canada and Mexico. Some of Allen’s most memorable global visitors were from Vietnam.
“They had our flyer. Someone had given them our flyer over in Vietnam,” he said. “Then they had come to Atlanta, not just to see my farm but to see my farm. They were vacationing here in the states, and we were the first stop on their [list].”
As Pumpkin Fest continues to “educate and entertain” this season, Creekside Farms is gearing up for its second annual corn maze, pumpkin patch and fall festival. Established in 2019, the venue spans 150 acres and is located on the Harris family’s property at 1669 Old Alabama Road in Taylorsville.
“I like being out here working on the farm itself,” said Robert Harris, who owns the agritourism operation with his father, Joe. “It puts a little bit more perspective in what real work is. You’re doing everything yourself.
“You’re getting ready for this event to happen. You’re making sure the pumpkins are growing on time, getting them up, making sure the corn maze — we can cut it, battling weather. … We’re trying to create an environment at our place where people can come out and enjoy their time to spend time with their families.”
Creekside Farms is open to visitors Oct. 2 to Nov. 1 on Fridays from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sundays, noon to 7 p.m. General admission, which is $15, covers a bevy of activities, such as the 8-acre corn maze, hayride, pumpkin chunkin, bounce house, peddle carts, cow train, hay mountain, tire mountain, corn box, kids corner, bucking barrels, duck race, pig race, goats and bonfire. Children 3 and younger will be admitted at no charge.
Operating in the midst of COVID-19, both Creekside Farms and Pettit Creek Farms are encouraging guests to practice social distancing. Face coverings are not required.
Due to coronavirus concerns, the Pumpkin Patch Farm in Adairsville noted on its voicemail the venue will be closed to the public this October.
Further details about Creekside Farms, can be obtained online at https://creeksidefarmsga.com or by calling 770-324-9070. For more information about Pettit Creek Farms, visit www.pettitcreekfarms.com or call 770-386-8688.