Hannah Peters | Staff Writer
Not too far from here, just past the city lights and traffic jams, sits a sprawling farm where the wonders of fall are in full swing.
With hayrides, pumpkin picking, a 3-acre corn maze, farm animals, hot apple cider and more, Trax Farms pulls out all the stops to create lots of seasonally-themed fun at its annual Fall Festival.
Commencing on Sept. 23 and ending this Sunday, Trax Farms holds its Fall Festival every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Located about 15 miles outside the city in Finleyville, Trax Farms is working hard to bring the fall festivities to the Pittsburgh region.
As part of the event, visitors can enjoy live music from local bands and a variety of food trucks that rotate each day of the festival. Kids will be delighted to find an array of bouncy houses, a ‘Bungee Jumper’ and mini train rides that are available at an additional cost.
Trax Farms also features an extensive storefront that contains their grocery, deli, bakery, homeware, gift, wine and beer departments as well as a garden shop. A café is located in their greenhouse that sells nachos, cider, apple cider slushies and caramel apples during the Fall Festival.
While the event is free to attend, access to the pumpkin patch and corn maze requires a hayride ticket. Tickets can be bought in person for $14, but with a limited number of tickets available, online tickets are encouraged for a discounted cost of $12 per person and includes priority boarding for the hayride.
After the 10-minute hayride to the pumpkin patch, visitors will also find refreshments, several campfires and a plethora of games like corn-hole, volleyball, football or the ‘Hay Jump’ to participate in. A range of farm animals including pigs, goats, sheep, llamas, a cow and a donkey can also be found keeping watch over (and eating) the pumpkins and cornstalks.
“It started off with just a pumpkin, but it’s gotten a little crazier since then,” says owner and greenhouse manager, Charles ‘Chuck’ Trax.
Spanning seven generations, Trax Farms has been around since 1865, a testament to their “Passion for growing good food and bringing families together to enjoy it,” according to their website.
Nine family members are involved with farming, which lends itself to creating a family environment that Trax says is part of what brought him back to work on the family farm.
“I grew up picking pumpkins with my dad, and now we’re [in] generation seven which is just amazing,” says Trax. “Being and having that legacy of opening in 1865 and carrying on for this long definitely helps with the story.”
In fact, with a farm and family history so rich, they were able to print a 200-page book on the history of Trax Farms. Added to the story just over 50 years ago, the Fall Festival has since grown into an event that gives hayrides to approximately 1,400 people per day and sells about 600,000 pounds of pumpkins a season.
This family aspect is a key part of their success and Trax said it is also why they intentionally leave out anything scary during the fall and Halloween season.
“We always get asked ‘Why don’t you do a haunted house?’ But that’s not us. We’re family-friendly and not looking to veer from that by any means,” said Trax.
A family of Duquesne’s own, the sisters of Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA), joined the Trax Farm fun last weekend as a part of a sisterhood bonding event. Member and sisterhood chair Jillian Bobey planned the event again after visiting Trax Farms last year.
“Everyone likes going to the pumpkin patch to take pictures and explore. Plus, it’s free,” Bobey said.
Also in attendance were members Alexis Rogers and Alicia Redington who reported having difficulty with the 3-acre corn maze.
“It’s a cute fall activity – there’s a lot to do. I like the store a lot but also the corn maze too. Except when we got lost; it was actually really hard.”
Although the Fall Festival is set to end Sunday, there is still another chance to enjoy their fall activities. While the food trucks, live music and bouncy houses will no longer be available, Trax Farms is continuing to offer the hayrides, corn maze and pumpkin picking during the weekend of Oct. 28.