Sweater weather is finally here and what better way to enjoy it than by going to a pumpkin patch? Rader Farms, a family owned business, is located right here in Bloomington, IL.
Loaded with pumpkins, warm apple cider, barnyard animals, a corn maze and many more attractions, Rader Farms helps bridge the gap between country and city life.
“It’s very refreshing to be able to escape the chaos of the city and just bask in the fall air and activities out at Rader Farms. It’s just relaxing and enjoyable,” said Normal resident Austin Duffell.
Lynn and Linda Rader live on the Rader Family Farm located on the west side of Normal on Ropp Road. Lynn and his six younger siblings were raised on this Guernsey Dairy farm by their parents, Glenn and Margaret Rader. The family grew up milking cows and showing cows in 4-H. In 1971 after Lynn’s father, Glenn, passed away, the cows were sold and the farm took on a different look.
Lynn started to grow pumpkins and put them up for sale in front of his house, which grew into a whole new business. That was some 20 years ago, and every year since, Lynn has planted more and more varieties and expanded his acreage. Today he has about 12 acres of sweet corn and 30-plus acres of pumpkins and gourds among others.
The children and spouses of the family are all involved with some aspect of the pumpkin business. They also hope to inform and teach the community about rural life.
“We see that each new generation has less and less understanding of the rural life. We feel our farm allows guests a unique opportunity to connect with and learn from rural America while having a great time in the country,” said business owner Lynn Rader.
The main attraction at Rader Farms is the pumpkin patch. Pick-your-own-pumpkins are available every day of the season. All are welcome to grab a wagon and go pick out which pumpkin they want to carve or decorate.
Another attraction is the huge corn maze. There is about 10 acres of corn to get lost in. You can go at night from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for the flashlight corn maze or during the day. Admission for the maze is $6 per person, but there are a variety of passes to choose from if you would like to participate in more activities.
“The corn maze in night time experience is awesome! You get to use flashlights to find your way through, and it’s something different and more exciting than walking through a maze in the daytime,” said Bloomington resident Stephanie Buhrow.
The Barnyard features farm animals such as goats, bunnies, adult and baby pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys and a rooster. You can feed the goats when purchasing a handful of pellets for only a quarter.
“All of the animals were very lively and friendly, and very entertaining to watch. The baby pigs were absolutely adorable and were my favorite,” said Bloomington resident Natalie Janusick.
Tram rides on weekends are also an option to experience some of the beautiful fall weather. You can take a ride out to get your pumpkin, or just take a ride around Rader Farms. While on the ride, information is given about how the farm operates and the family history behind it. A gift shop is located on the farm to help you remember your experience after leaving. It includes sweatshirts, coffee mugs and other souvenir like items.
Rader Farms also offers a couple of cafes and restaurants on site, packed with fall foods and treats such as caramel apple slushes. The Barnyard Grill opens up on the weekends as well as the Cafe, and adds some additional tasty options to the menu, including fresh roasted sweet corn. Try the Slop-the-Hog brat sandwich, pulled pork BBQ, fried corn dog, Nachos, pretzels, caramel apples and pumpkin donuts.
The Pumpkin Blossom Cafe is open all day on the weekends and also on weekdays, serving a menu of traditional country food items. You’ll find more sandwiches and snacks here, and special treats such as oatmeal caramel apple cookies and fresh donuts.
“There’s nothing better than enjoying a warm cup of apple cider along with some home-cooked country food after spending the morning in a pumpkin patch. You can’t get much more Fall than that!” said Normal resident Mitch Schafer.
While Rader Family Farms provides a compelling value for your money when compared to other entertainment activities, they also understand the public’s need to just come and purchase some pumpkins, gourds, fall decorations or just get a coffee and people watch. There is a portion of the farm dedicated to people who just want to stop in and shop at no cost to them.
If you decide you want to participate in other activities, there are daily admission fees for the public. It costs $6 for the one-day activity passes on weekdays and $8 for the one-day activity passes on weekends. There are other combination passes, season passes, group passes and discount day options that can be found at Rader Farms’ website. Rader Farms is located at 1238 Ropp Road in Normal, IL. Their hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.