As summer came to a close, Ohio University students were eager to get back to their classes. The leaves are turning from green to red, and there is a chilly nip in the air — proof that fall is here.
In their free time, locals take advantage of the beautiful weather by participating in outdoor autumn activities. Visiting pumpkin patches, corn mazes and apple fields are just a few.
With over 700 farms, the hills of Athens are a perfect spot to appreciate the great outdoors this season.
Libby’s Pumpkin Patch, 41251 State Farm Road, is one of the closest options for OU students. Libby’s, which is located in Albany, is only a 15-minute drive away.
Starting in 2011, Libby’s has not only a pumpkin patch but corn mazes, hayrides and even pumpkin ice cream.
Rachel Lewis, a co-owner of Libby’s, excitedly waits each year for the fall season to begin so she can get back to her pumpkin patch.
“We have a ton of different varieties, different pumpkins,” Lewis said. “We typically plant in June. There’s a variety of ways to do it, but we plow, and then we usually plant by hand.”
Members of Libby’s put in hard work to make sure their pumpkin patch is healthy and ready for the season.
“Getting the seeds in the ground can be challenging because it can be so hot and dry,” Lewis said. “We also all work full-time. It can be challenging because we’re all very busy.”
However, all the hard work is more than rewarding for Lewis because of the joy it provides visitors to her farm.
Libby’s also offers various painted hay bale creatures for visitors to climb on or take their pictures with, perfect for group fall photo-ops.
“We also have face painting, sunflowers, a sunflower field,” Lewis said.
Libby’s provides all these activities for visitors who pay the $5 admission fee.
The farm also has a beautiful open barn with large chandeliers that doubles as a venue for weddings and other events.
Another location that OU students visit to celebrate autumn is Sweetapple Farm, 149 Sweetapple Road, in Vincent.
Mona Barrette, owner of Sweetapple Farm, wants visitors to truly experience their motto: ‘Relax, remember, smile.’
“We have a six-and-a-half acre corn maze,” Barrette said.
The $4 maze is has a different theme each year. This year’s theme is ‘Little Boy Blue.’
Sweetapple Farm strives to teach visitors while they have fun, including questions and games in the maze.
“This year they teach about sheep, cattle, hay and corn,” Barrette said.
Sweetapple Farm also has 10 acres of pumpkin species, ranging from jack-o’-lanterns to moon pumpkins to Cinderella pumpkins and more.
The farm does not have an admission fee, and pumpkins start at $2.50.
“People love to go out in the field with their families and pick the pumpkins,” Barrette said. “The children absolutely love it.”
Sweetapple Farm has a number of other activities, such as a hay maze, farm animals and a pig race.
“We have baby pigs. They’re not very old, but we do pig races,” Barrette said.
According to Barrette, pig races at Sweet Apple Farm are popular attractions.
“It’s very popular. The people have given them names like ‘Baconator’ and ‘Ham Bone,’” she said. “We have three pigs here, and our staff raises the pigs.”
Sweetapple Farm contains a market where they sell pumpkin lattes, caramel lattes, caramel apples and other foods and drinks, too. It is well-known for being a popular venue for weddings, reunions, birthday parties and more.
“We have people from all over (coming to visit),” Barrette said. “We have people from Columbus, Cleveland — all around.”
Sweetapple Farm aims to bring people together at all of the events they provide.
Ethan Buerkel, a freshman studying nursing, recently visited Sweet Apple Farm.
“I went to the pumpkin patch and had a lot of fun,” Buerkel said. “Fall is my favorite season because I get to do fall activities with my friends.”