Fall into fun: Agritourism sites offer bounty of autumn attractions

Cool breezes rustle through the head-high stalks as people attempt to winde their way through the twisting, turning corn maze at Kelsay Farms.

Local residents stomp through fields full of bright orange pumpkins, searching for the perfect canvas for their Halloween jack-o-lanterns at Waterman’s Farm. Stacks of weird and wonderful gourds along with explosively colord mums are waiting at Jenkins Farm Market.

Bins full of apples — Swiss gourmet, Gala, Zestar and many, many more — stay full inside the store at the Apple Works.

Fall is in the air across Johnson County, and nowhere is that more evident at local agritourism attractions. Blending the county’s agricultural heritage with family-friendly outdoor activities, area farms and orchards have everything you need to make for an awesome autumn.

Kelsay Farms

What: 6848 N. CR 250E, Whiteland; 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays, noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 30, admission $12, kids 1 and under free; kelsayfarms.com

Falls at Kelsay Farms are a Johnson County tradition. Each autumn, the historic sixth-generation dairy and crop farm, which was originally land granted by President Martin Van Buren in 1837, welcomes the public to its grounds. The centerpiece of the activities is its 7-acre maize maze, this year cut in the shape of an ear of corn with the farm’s logo nearby.

Families can take hay rides, hop on the bounce pad, climb the hay bale tower, meet the farm animals and ride on the Moo Choo Express. Dairy-centric snacks such as milkshakes and grilled cheeses, as well as hot dogs, are available for purchase. To accommodate families on fall break, Kelsay Farms opens up during the week during fall break, from Oct. 10-21. People are invited to trick-or-treat in the corn maze from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 29; anyone wearing a costume gets $1 off admission.

The Apple Works

What: 8157 S. 250W, Trafalgar; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday; apple-works.com

Tucked into the hilly corner of souther Johnson County, the Apple Works has been catering to the community’s needs for fall decor, fresh local produce, pumpkins and of course apples since the working orchard was founded in 1989. More than 20 different kinds of apples are grown at the orchard, from the lively gala to the juicy honeycrisp to the sweet-tart ginger gold. Shoppers can also find all different kinds of Indiana produce, from free-stone peaches to sweet corn to blueberries. Don’t forget to stop into the bake shop for pies, dumplings, doughnuts and other sweet treats.

But fall also brings special events to the Apple Works. Find the perfect gourd for your Halloween jack-o-lantern in the you-pick pumpkin patch. Stroll through gardens, around the pond and past the waterfall on the orchard’s grounds. Enjoy live music every Saturday and Sunday, while kids play on the super slide, straw mountain or in the bamboo maze.

Fall Harvest Festival at Waterman’s Farm

What: 1100 SR 37, Greenwood; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Sunday through Oct. 31; watermansfamilyfarm.com/greenwood-location-fall-festival

Few things perfectly encapsulate the fall farm experience than a good old-fashioned hayride, and every day in October, the folks at Waterman’s Farm Greenwood location will be hauling people out through the fields of northwestern Johnson County. The rides end up at the you-pick pumpkin patch, and take people back to the main farm grounds for a wealth of activities.

Kids can jump, climb and scamper up the straw bale playground. Relax in a tipi made out of corn stalks. Take a mini-train ride, or hunker down in the straw fort. A petting zoo allows people to meet goats, sheep and other farm animals. Visitors can try the milk can throw, or roll around in the human hamster wheels. A market with produce and locally made goods offers items to purchase, or pay a little extra to make and take your own scarecrow home.

Jenkins Farm Market

What: 5566 SR 252, Franklin; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays Oct. 8 to 30; facebook.com/Jenkinsfarmmarket

Navigating through a corn maze is its own fall-fun-filled reward. But at Jenkins Farm Market, an Amity-area farm at the corner of U.S. 31 and State Road 252, you could win cash prizes for navigating the maze. Organizers have offered cash prizes to whoever solves the scavenger hunt in the maze and completes it in the fastest time.

But no matter what, everyone wins during Jenkins’ fall activities. Hundreds of pumpkins, mums, corn stalks and other products take over the property. If you’re more inclined to pick out your own pumpkin straight from the vine, keep a keen eye as you wander through the farm patch. Inside the farm market, find everything from jams and jellies to salsa to homemade pies, bread and noodles.