This year, more than ever, we need crisp autumn air that lasts for weeks to allow families lots of time for fresh-air fun before the snow starts to swirl. Good news: George Richardson of Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove has it on good authority that the weather this fall will be warmer and dryer than usual.
That means there’s extra time to get out and enjoy the many activities available at Richardson Adventure Farm. And, with hundreds of acres to roam, this is a perfect place to maintain social distance and stay safe while having plenty of fall fun.
“We have a lot of wide-open space on our farm,” says Richardson. “We’re running everything with COVID precautions in place and, even if we have 4,000 guests, everyone can still spread out.”
Of course, masks are required inside buildings and in areas where physical distancing is not possible, but the farm will be fogging surfaces with disinfectant on a regular basis.
Richardson Adventure Farm is a real family-owned business, with George and his brother Robert, who are fifth-generation Richardsons, and George’s son Ryan — the sixth Richardson generation — all involved in daily operations. The farm was established as a homestead in 1836 by George and Robert Richardson’s pioneer great-great-grandfather.
So much to do and enjoy
Nothing beats a crisp day, just warm enough to enjoy a tractor-pulled wagon ride across Richardson Adventure Farm to a pumpkin patch filled with orange globes waiting to be plucked from their vines. The whole family will enjoy a spin on the 30-horse farm carousel and a ride on the Richardson Express train.
And everyone will be grateful for a cool breeze after bouncing on the family-favorite jumping pillows — giant air-poofed stretchy tarps just perfect for bouncing into the air. “Parents love these because their kids get a lot of exercise jumping and they get tired,” Richardson jokes. There’s even a separate jumping pillow for young visitors.
Thrill-seekers in your tribe will race to the state-certified amusement zip line that propels the most adventurous guests 700 feet through the air from a platform deck on the 50-foot observation tower. When they are done zipping, they’ll try Zorbing — rolling head over heels down a hill fully enclosed in an 11-foot transparent ball. “This is a very, very fun ride, really like no other,” Richardson says.
A labyrinth made of corn
No matter what your speed, you will not be disappointed by what’s touted as the world’s largest, most intricately designed corn maze. Spread across 28 acres, the maze features 9.7 miles of trails, yet Richardson says no one ever gets lost…at least not permanently. “But a little bit lost is always fun,” Richardson laughs.
“We have no dead ends and multiple entrances and exits, plus the 50-foot tower that you can look up and head toward and you will get out in five or 10 minutes,” he says. The maze is divided into sections that vary in length and difficulty. And it is truly a puzzle waiting to be solved.
“In general, you can spend a really enjoyable half-hour, or, to solve the entire labyrinth, you would walk maybe 2.5 miles and spend an hour-and-one-half.” Everyone receives a map with 24 numbered checkpoints and chances to make lots of decisions along the way. The 2020 corn maze, beautifully intricate in design and enormous in scope, celebrates the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
Have you ever been to a pig race?
Richardson says his favorite attraction of the whole farm is the pig race. In an 800-seat amphitheater, live music that entertains guests throughout the day and evening makes way for races between specially trained and cleverly named pigs, all presented by the witty banter of Richardson and his wife, Wendy. “We’re funny people when we get on the sound system,” he says.
Each pig — whether named after a celebrity, like Taylor Swiftfoot, or graced with a themed name like Froggy, Earthy or Sunshine — has signature introductory music and an individual racing blanket. Three celebrity pigs race three themed pigs, and the event is capped off by a final race for the championship. “It’s a very entertaining 20 minutes or so. Afterward, the pigs will come out and visitors can help feed cookies to the pigs. Most people don’t get to feed pigs very often,” Richardson says.
The best part about a day out at Richardson Adventure Farm is there’s something for everyone in the family — from toddlers to grandparents — to do and enjoy. Everyone will appreciate the chance to roam the farm, enjoy fresh doughnuts prepared throughout the day and fill up on the many other available concessions. To keep lines to a minimum and provide adequate social distancing, food trucks have been added, too.
There is wine tasting in the gift shop, beer and wine in the food tent, plus hot chocolate and hot cider for kids, with rum or schnapps added for adults.
“Fall is here, and it will be enjoyable,” Richardson says. “There is a good share of people who want someplace to go, and our farm is a great place to be. We have lots of space and are cognizant of people’s concerns and are doing our very best to keep the environment safe.”
Visit Richardson Adventure Farm from 3-9 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 9 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 12-Nov. 8 plus 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Columbus Day. The farm is at 909 English Prairie Road in Spring Grove, Illinois. To learn more, call 815-675-9729 or visit richardsonadventurefarm.com. For more information, call 815-675-9729 or visit richardsonadventurefarm.com.