A festival for the season

Troy’s Fall Farm Fest gives visitors fall fever

By Lara Donnelly

A family enjoying last year’s Fall Farm Fest in Troy

A family enjoying last year’s Fall Farm Fest in Troy

The leaves are turning color, the temperature is falling and autumn is on its way. As the seasons change, people in the Dayton area have a chance to get outside and breathe the newly crisp air at Miami County Park District’s third annual Fall Farm Fest.

Fall Farm Fest will take place at Lost Creek Reserve, a historical farm and homestead in Troy. The park is nestled among mature trees, which will be displaying their fantastic autumnal foliage just in time for the festival.

“The festival itself is spread over several acres,” said Amanda Smith, marketing and public relations administrator for the Miami County Park District. “Probably 30 or 40 acres of our park. You never feel like you’re crowded.”

According to Smith, you never feel bored either. Fall Farm Fest is aimed at families, which means there’s something for everyone, whether that visitor is nine or 90. Visitors can browse the vendors or the gift shop (it’s never too early to think about Christmas presents), or take a more exhilarating hike on the trails around the farmstead.

For woodsy enthusiasts, there will be a self-guided hikes and tree identification hikes. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will sponsor an archery exhibit, and the Miami Valley Astronomical Society will be on hand to talk autumn sky watching. On Sunday, guests can watch sheepdog demonstrations at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

For smaller guests, Fall Farm Fest offers endless opportunities for fun. Lost Creek Reserve is home to friendly farm animals, and there will be pony rides for aspiring cowboys, show jumpers and jockeys. For the more mechanically minded, there will be a kiddie tractor pull at 1:30 p.m. (registration starts at noon).

There will also be pumpkin painting, traditional children’s games and a “Pluck and Strum” area where children can play with and on musical instruments including banjos and mandolins.

“People always really enjoy the children’s area,” said Smith. “It’s always busy with children doing everything.”

Everyone can enjoy the wagon rides around Lost Creek Reserve, trundling through pasture fields and under blazing autumn leaves. The wagon ride will take passengers along the Scarecrow Trail, decorated with scarecrows created by local business and non-profit organizations.

“Visitors love to see the scarecrows that line the farm lane,” said Smith. “No two are alike.” Last year, more than 40 scarecrows lined Scarecrow Trail, and Smith says even more organizations are signed up this year.

Last year, said Smith, the Fall Farm Fest corn maze was a huge hit with visitors. Unfortunately, this year’s corn maze was laid low during the blustery storms of Labor Day weekend.

There’s still plenty to do, though. And when visitors want to rest their feet, they can unfold their lawn chairs and listen to the bluegrass tunes of Fall Farm Fest’s impressive musical roster.

Saturday, the main stage will boast bands starting at 10 a.m., culminating in a performance by soulful bluegrass greats NewFound Road at 3:45 p.m. Sunday will see more music, including Ohio natives Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers.

NewFound Road debuted in 2010, on none other than the hallowed stage of the Grand Ole Opry. They have been praised by bluegrass fans and critics alike. Joe Mullins has been playing bluegrass for 25 years, and is a winner of the Instrumental Recording of the Year award. He brings his spirit and expertise to his band, playing with Adam McIntosh, Tim Kidd, Evan McGregor and Mike Terry.

“This year, we expect that the music line-up will be a big hit,” said Smith. “We hope that people will come out and take advantage of these free concerts.”

That’s one of the key words for Fall Farm Fest: free. Festival and concert admission is free. For families looking for something fun to do in these tough economic times, Fall Farm Fest is a golden opportunity.

Just remember to bring your own lawn chair — seating is limited, and with so many activities and such great bands, it’s bound to go quickly. Last year, Smith said over 9,000 people attended Fall Farm Fest.

Obviously they’re doing something right. Head out to Troy and Lost Creek Reserve this weekend to find out what!

Fall Farm Fest takes place October 8 and 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free, but there is a charge for pumpkin painting and pony rides.

For more information, visit www.miamicountyparks.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Lara Donnelly at LaraDonnelly@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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