The cooler fall temperatures inspired me to start checking off a few seasonal bucket list activities and adventures, and I made headway on my list this past weekend at Trinity Valley Dairy Farm, a fourth-generation family farm in the East Homer.
There's no denying the main attraction at the moment is the 7-acre corn maze, but it certainly was not the only reason to swing by. From delectable treats, farm animals and hayrides, good old-fashioned fall fun is just 10 minutes from Downtown Cortland.
BABY I'M A-MAZED
If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would enjoy getting lost in a 7-acre corn maze, I would have told them they were nuttier than a fruitcake. One too many horror novels has conjured frightful images of a walk through the stalks, but after my trip through this Cortland County corn maze, with the help of my husband, I can confidently say it's kid (and adult) friendly and scare free.
This may only be Trinity Valley's second year in the corn maze business, but there is no doubt they know how to create one. From high above, "Trinity Valley Dairy" is etched into the stalks with an image of a barn entwined in between. There were just enough twists and turns in the 3-mile maze that getting lost was inevitable, but only for a few moments as the map did its job guiding us from start to finish. A word of advice, follow the black lines on the map, not the space in between. We noticed those helpful directions on the map about 10 minutes in, and it would have taken a lot longer than 45 minutes to navigate the maze if we hadn't.
As suggested on the Trinity Valley website, we wore comfortable shoes as we walked the dirt paths searching for six checkpoints where we had to answer a trivia question on a provided punch card. Once we conquered the corn maze challenge, a free doughnut awaited us at the store (I'll talk more about those in a bit).
For those wanting just a taste of the corn maze, or if you have a little one, there is a .4-mile maze you can walk without the fear of getting lost.
The maze is opened Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Oct. 27. Admission is $7; children 3 and under are free. If you're looking for a scare around Halloween, the farm will be hosting a Corn Maze After Dark on Oct. 25th and Oct. 26th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Don't forget to bring your own flashlight.
As mentioned previously, because we found all six checkpoints among the stalks, a fresh homemade doughnut was waiting for us at the store. My husband and I redeemed our prize and as expected, they were the perfect fall treat - tender, scrumptious and worth a second helping.
With the heavenly smell of doughnuts wafting around me, I took a look around their newly renovated store, stocked with just-harvested products, canned and frozen goodies and other edibles on hand. A sample of some of the local finds I spotted: pumpkins, cheeses, jams & jellies, maple syrup and New Hope Mills Pancake Mixes. There was also a freezer section filled with packages of grass-fed beef, bacon and local pork.
Their made-from-scratch bread, pies and buttermilk biscuits lined the shelves. An enclosed glass case showcased a variety of homemade treats. From Pumpkin Rolls to Cherry Cheesecakes, Lemon Bars to Apple Pie Squares, it was hard to indulge in just one. I settled on an Apple Fritter which I happily did not share with my husband, but made him buy his own.
The need to wash down my goodies with something led me to the refrigerator section where I found Trinity Valley's legen-dairy chocolate milk. They recently took home first place at the 2019 Great New York State Fair Dairy Product competition, so they know milk.
Trinity Valley is the cream of the crop when it comes to wholesome family fun. Whether your kids want to pick their own pumpkin, run a muck through giant tires, or take a hayride, the farm guarantees enough fresh air and playtime to tucker out your mini farmer.
The moment I stepped beyond the admission booth, the farm became an oversized backyard to anyone under the age of 10. Children were diving into the sand pit, climbing the tire jungle gym and whipping up 'doughnuts' in the fake kitchen. There were opportunities for hayrides, or for the really little ones, to enjoy a tractor train ride. Take your kids to history class on a wagon ride around the property where you'll learn about the farm's past and how its milk is made.
If the energy begins to run low, grab a bite from the Snack Shack and sit under the newly built pavilion complete with picnic tables.
DON'T FORGOAT THE ANIMALS
Some may say this belongs under 'children's activities', but I have no shame as a 31-year-old admitting my favorite part of the whole experience, outside of surviving the corn maze, was feeding the barnyard animals.
As my husband can attest to, I joyfully ran towards the mini-farm to say hello to its residents. You cannot enter the pens, but the animals will come to you, especially if you have a handful of their animal feed for only 25 cents.
The happy-go-lucky baby goats were playful and fun to watch. The young cows danced around a sheep who looked like he just wanted to nap. Though originally not on my fall bucket list, visiting a mini farm or petting zoo is a must. After all, you are never too old to enjoy the farm animals.
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