Prepare to celebrate the Autumn season surrounded by sunflowers, berries, and ghouls!
Fourth-generation farmer Eric Freeland has opened his acreage up to the community for photography opportunities, food and fun this weekend.
“This is our first year dabbling with this, and we hope to expand every year going forward,” said Freeland.
“We have a graveyard, a haunted corn maze and a six-foot spider. We have available sensory play bins for kids; instead of sand it is filled with corn.”
Other events include family-oriented activities and tours to really get a feel for the land.
“A family portrait area is set up for family photos. Walking tours will be available, and it is very pretty scenery that anyone will enjoy. We will show people how we grow things as well and they can buy produce,” said Freeland.
In addition to bringing more fun for families to the area, Freeland also wants to promote more rural tourism into his property now and in the future.
“We want to be more than just a producer and incorporate agrotourism,” said Freeland.
“We realized growing sunflowers were a big hit this past summer and a lot of professional photographers have become interested for their clientele. That’s how this got started.”
With several acres of berries and corn, it is no wonder Freeland has always been active in the community — all that food goes to local businesses.
“We are big suppliers of Grow OV and Catholic Charities and sell our stuff at The Public Market. We have about three to four people that work part time here. We allow people to pick their own produce,” said Freeland.
In addition to enjoying activities on the farm, you are also encouraged to pick your own produce fresh off the vine.
“People like walking through those cornfields,” said Freeland.
“An acre of berries is a tremendous amount of work. We’ve got an acre or two of sweet corn as well. I’ve been doing this for 30 or 40 years and I’ve been here my entire life.”
This weekend will be particularly enjoyable for any foodies in attendance as well.
“We will have pie vendors who will be making fried hand pies from Short, but Sweet Bakery, as well as Run Away Farms,” said Freeland.
You can also assemble your own flower bouquet, explore three corn mazes, enjoy hay bales decorated as Minions, and see an array of friendly and frightening scarecrows throughout the farm.
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Ken and Lori Siburt enjoy some fall festivities on the Freeland farm.
Lori Siburt enjoying the minions and giant spider while taking in the scenery.
“Considering we are basing this event towards families and kids, it’s not a blood fest of missing heads,” said Freeland.
“It is Halloween, but there is no gore-related stuff. It’s Halloween, but for all ages.”
And it wouldn’t be Halloween without pumpkins! Not only will pumpkins be available, but you and your family can decorate them during the event.
“We are not pumpkin growers, but we do have pumpkins here for the event. It is a Halloween event after all,” said Freeland.
While Freeland plans on taking part in the event himself, he is elated about something totally different.
“I’m most excited about people being happy to have something like this locally. The community is glad there is a working farm where they can spend a holiday,” said Freeland.
“It makes me feel good. My job in life is putting smiles on people’s faces. We grow such quality stuff so when people come out, they thank us so much, so there are accolades and that motivates us.”
Kacey Gantzer of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture has consulted Freeland on multiple occasions regarding events such as this. Ganzter is looking forward to seeing his plans for this season come to life.
“It is very exciting when farms like Eric Freeland’s farm open their businesses to agritourism. Here in the northern panhandle families are so excited to get to experience where our food is produced in person,” said Gantzer.
“Eric is a premier grower of berries and vegetables and now he’s adding a new exciting option of coming to tour the farm for Halloween. This is a great opportunity for our community to connect directly to our local farmers like Eric, while spending a fun afternoon enjoying activities.”
The event will be held on Saturday, October 15 through Sunday, October 16 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sneakers or hiking boots are suggested.
No pets will be permitted and each vehicle upon arriving will be charged $10 for entry.
• With a background in journalism and being a true Wheeling native, Jessica Broverman was destined to work with Weelunk. She holds a degree in journalism with a minor in criminal justice and works with Williams Lea Tag as a legal proofreader. When she isn’t typing away for Weelunk or WLT, she is enjoying a coffee at one of her many favorite spots in Wheeling, spending time with friends, or having fun with her husband Zachary and their two cats, Proctor and Max.