In these autumnal days of waning sunlight and lengthening nighttime, it is paramount for us to squeeze what outdoor time we can before the Cold Dark (usually just called Winter) truly sets in. I don’t personally mind this time of year; as in general, my body’s temperature runs high. Summer’s fun, but the Long Hot presents me a personal challenge, as it’s losing heat my body worries about, not finding more. This, paired with my general affinity for nighttime, makes this period after the second Equinox of the year some of my favorite weather (up to a point to be determined on a season-by-season basis). Wind is also my favorite of the elemental forces, so the chill winds that have been sweeping Delaware this October have been so excellent that I actually haven’t missed Burlington yet. In an effort to get out into this delicious October chill, we arranged a trip to the Fall Festival at Milburn Orchards, the premier Fall attraction in my area.
Milburn Orchards is emphatically a family affair—specifically the fourth generation of the Milburn family since the establishment of the farm. It very well may be that a member of the generation (or two) below that wandered over to play tetherball with either me or Morgan after our game finished (I won, so naturally I played her). Since she was roughly ten years old (and asked Morgan to hold her stuffed manatee before playing), I lost. Simply put, I’m used to facing opponents who are taller than me; what can I say? After the game, I asked where her group was. This question confused her, so I said “Who’d you come with?” She said, “Oh, my family works here,” and pointed all around her. At that point, I felt a lot less weird about letting her run off.
I imagine growing up a Milburn is an incredibly fun thing, by and large. Doubtless, there are parts of the year when all hands are needed on deck, but for the duration of the Fall, you’ve got free unlimited access to fresh apples, hay rides, a corn maze to play in, all sorts of farm-themed playground equipment (the giant spider web made of ropes would be my favorite), farm animals, pumpkins, and my personal favorite attraction: the Mole Hill. It’s got tunnels dug through it that many adults would find difficult to navigate, but when you’re a kid, you’re the perfect size. For those who aren’t keen on climbing things, there is a paintball range and giant slingshot, a mini zoo containing farm animals (including a goat climbing structure connecting two different pens), pumpkin picking, and a farm market whose hours are extended beyond that of the main attractions. With all this entertainment (presumably) in their backyard, I’d bet young Milburns are rarely bored when Fall is in full swing.
Though perhaps it’s not the fun it would seem. Growing up surrounded by fun, it loses its splendor. When your whole family is involved in the same line of work, it ceases to be special. For us, it’s a super fun (and it is a blast for the whole family) weekend treat for this time of year. For the Milburns, it is a livelihood, and not contained to a single season. The Orchards host an Easter Egg hunt in the Spring, and hold sporadic weekend events throughout the Spring and Summer. The Farm Market (where you can buy delicious, farm fresh baked goods, jams, produce, and the like) is open seven days a week from June to December, along with the Lunch and Ice Cream Deck, but the Fall Festival (the main attraction in the eyes of the general public) is only open on weekends of the proper season. So, the period during which a young Milburn’s life would be completely devoid of farm happenings comprises only a scant third of the year, broken up even more by the advent of Easter sometime in the Spring. For the rest of us, though, Fall represents an exciting time of plummeting temperatures and high winds, of the last fresh fruit before Winter sets in, and an opportunity for us to enjoy the bounty Milburn Orchards brings to bear.
Quick Facts: Ten Dollar entry for adults, certain attractions cost tickets, but the quintessential ones (hay ride, corn maze, etc.) are included. Entry to the Farm Market is free, and reentry into the Fall Festival is free, as is parking.
Is there anything going on in your area to celebrate Fall like this? Is it cooler, or does it pale next to Milburn?