The pumpkins, hayrides and other fall festivities couldn’t wait for summer to end on Thursday.
While the Delaware County Fair kicks off today, Leeds Farm, 8738 Marysville Road in Ostrander, will also begin the 2016 harvest season. While closed on the weekdays, the farm will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Oct. 30.
“I went into Lowes the other day and they had all Halloween stuff,” said farmer Rob Leeds. “So I guess it’s time.”
Mid-September is a usual time for Leeds Farm to kick off the fall festivities, sometimes overlapping with the fair. Rob will be working with the junior fair as the director of the Ohio State University Extension in Delaware County during this weekend.
Meanwhile, about 70 employees ranging from high school to college graduates will be handling the day-to-day operations, he said. Many of his employees have moved on to richer careers in medicine, business and education.
“We’ve found them to be excellent,” he said. “The relationship you have with your staff is half the fun of doing this job.”
Some employees at the family-owned pumpkin farm were adding the final touches Thursday.
“It’s crunch time,” said Christy Leeds, Rob’s wife.
Farm goers can buy pumpkins, most of them grown at Rob’s farm in Milford Center, and feed the farm’s animals. Families can also purchase admission to play at the farm’s 80 acres of 30 to 40 farm activities including mini-zip lines, a combine slide and hayrides with animatronics on the trail.
The farm’s newest addition is “Paintball on the Porch,” which features a shooting gallery and ready-to-aim-at targets. The activity is not included in admission
“Agriculture tourism has really taken off in Ohio,” Rob said.
“I’m all about ambiance,” he said. “It’s nice in the fall season to relax.”
Leeds Farm also have fundraisers throughout the season. The farm will host its 10th annual Autism Harvest Festival, which offers free admission to families with autistic children from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. today; and its Witches Night on Oct.6 with proceeds going to breast cancer research.
Other pumpkin farms will be open to the public after fall arrives. Lehner Pumpkin Farm, 2920 State Route 203, in Radnor and Miller’s County Gardens, 2488 state Route 37 West, in Delaware will open to the public on Sept. 24.
Lehner Pumpkin Farm, 2920 state Route 203, will be open 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from Sept. 24 to Oct. 30. The farm features a 1,000 acres including 48 acres of pumpkins and 30 activities.
“Lehner’s Pumpkin Farm is gearing up for a fantastic fall season,” said owner Christy Lehner.
The farm will have special days this season including a visit from the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium on Oct. 9.
Miller County Gardens features hayrides to the pumpkin fields from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; barrel rides for children; a play area and a corn maze. The farm will host its Fallfest, featuring a live band, on Oct. 9.
“It’s a way of life,” Leeds said.
Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.