Fall has swept in on a carpet of colorful leaves and as always, it brings an endless variety of attractions for kids. Official Kids Mag took a ride on that autumn carpet over to Farmland Adventures in Springdale to see what excitement awaits us there. As we enter the farm owned and worked for five generations by the Parsons family, we’re given a downhome greeting from Mrs. Parsons and treated to the delicious smells of kettle corn and hay wafting our way. There’s SO much to see and do.
We pass by kids having fun on pony rides, but the attraction that wins our hearts first is a gentle giant named Samson. Samson is a Belgian draft horse and one of 14 different types of animals in the petting zoo. He’s about 18 hands tall—that’s around 6 feet at the withers, or tallest point. And what a handsome horse he is, with his caramel coloring, his long, flowing mane and forelock (bangs), and huge hooves. Best of all, he lets you pat and stroke him as 14-year-old Madison of Bentonville likes to do. “I love this horse!” she announces.
Another horse—well, not actually a horse but a zonkey named Zoey that’s part zebra, part donkey—is totally fascinating. We see other exotic animals like Watusi cattle from Africa and a Brahma bull named Dink (he loves for you to pet him). A little girl named Avery exclaims, “Look at the bull swinging his big horns!”
Other animals include llama, sheep, goats, calves, a mule, pigs, and donkeys. You can feed most of them with special food that’s available. Sydnie Parsons is in charge of the critters. There are seven Parson children in all, and five still live at home and work the farm and Farmland Adventures, which opened September 11 and goes until November 7. This year marks their 10th anniversary.
Look! There’s a crowd gathering around a small pen. Let’s head over. Can’t help smiling to see a litter of seven little pot-bellied pigs squirming and squealing and scooting close to their long-suffering mama. Speaking of pigs, it’s time for the pig race, one of the newer attractions on the farm. Four piglets at a time line up behind a small gate, each one with a number. Then, with fanfare, Gabrielle Parsons, 14, gives the countdown—one, two, three—the gate comes up and the pigs streak out. The crowd hollers and hoots to support their favored contestant. The piglets have to jump over a couple of obstacle poles laid out horizontally (smart little porkers! They figure out how to skirt around the first pole). Before you can say Old MacDonald, they’ve reached the finish line where they are rewarded with double Oreo cookies!
We stroll around to check out other cool stuff, like the Pedal Karts where kids can race around the track, a roping area where you can lasso fake rodeo animals, an enormous pipe steeply angled to make a fabulous slide, and a tire play area where you can run, jump and test your agility.
Whoops, only five minutes until the wagon ride leaves! It runs on the hour every hour, so let’s go! We hurry past the field of sunflowers—thousands of brilliant towers of beauty that are the dream of bumblebees and photographers—to jump on a flatbed trailer pulled by Farmer Rick McCoy in his John Deere tractor. Mr. McCoy hands a tortilla to each person coming on board and tells us not to eat it. “We’re going to feed them to the cows,” he says. “Tear them into strips. That’s how they like it.”
Off we go, rumbling over rocky ground before reaching a herd of cattle. Immediately, a big brown cow lopes over to devour a tortilla from someone’s hand and then another cow, this one black, sticks out her enormously long tongue to snatch herself the treat. Finally, with all the tortillas down the cattle’s hatches, we drive back, ready for the next adventure, which happens to be…
You guessed it! The giant nine-acre corn maze where getting lost is half the fun. The theme for 2020 is “Down on the Farm: The American Farmer.” The maze is designed to be educational too, and has story boards hidden along the way that make it exciting to learn all kinds of neat farming stuff, like inventors and advances in agriculture. You can download an app called a Maze Tracker that lets you choose a corn character to follow on the screen as you wander around the twisting paths of the maze.
At last, we spy the exit. Home free! But in such a giant corn maze you work up a giant thirst, so we stop by the concession stand for a nice cold drink. If you want a hot dog, you can get that too, and lots of other tasty snacks.
What a day it’s been! Time to go home, but not before buying a couple of pumpkins to take back with us. Thank you, Parsons family and all the people who worked hard to make this farm adventure ex-straw-ordinary!