Fall fun is all in the family at Johnson’s Country Market

On Saturday, Oct. 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Johnson’s Country Market will hold its annual Family Fun Day.

“We’ve have been doing the Family Fun Day for eight years,” explained Keith Johnson, one of the market’s owners.

The premise of the family-friendly event, he said, was based in the fact that folks were coming in to the market and the market was receiving interest in fall activities beyond the purchase of a pumpkin, mums or Thanksgiving turkey.

“People were looking for things to do during the fall season. We were looking to serve the community with fun, safe activities for kids to do. We mainly want to get families out to have a good day in the fall weather and come out to the farm and enjoy some of the activities we have to offer.”

Entry costs $5 for adults and $7 for children 3 or older, with kids 2 and younger admitted free of charge. Upon entry, attendees will be given a wristband that allows for all-day entry and access to various activities.

Johnson said the event has grown substantially over the years, in both the number of attendees and the activities offered.

“We’ve grown quite substantially. The first couple years, we had a few handfuls of families come out. Most years recently, we’ve sold up to the complete parking lot, and I would say at least 1,000 people, at least, come out.”

For the kids, there will be hayrides, a coloring contest, toss-the-pumpkin challenge, horseshoe pitching and two moon bounces. Kids will even get to take home small prizes if they win.

“We’ll set up penny games, little games like spin-the-wheel, pumpkin toss, beanbag toss – quite a few different fun little games like that,” said Johnson. “We also have a pallet maze. It just kind of gives kids another option. We’ve added on a rope maze this year, and it’s in the shape of a spider web. You got to go find the spider in the center of the web and there are different stamps that they have to mark a card with. It’s kind of interactive with the kids.”

The Johnsons have also made a 7.5-acre corn maze, inspired by a new Delaware Department of Agriculture cell phone application.

“They have an app out now with Delaware farmers’ markets, and you can use that app to find your local farmers’ market and find out what they carry. So, in conjunction with that, we did a corn maze that says, ‘Delaware Farmers Markets,’ and it has the outline of the state of Delaware. We have an app and a cell phone on there – all drawn out in the corn.”

Returning to the event this year is former World Champion Pumpkin Chunkin air cannon Chunk’N-ology.

“They’ve been with us approximately five years. They come out and shoot pumpkins, and they’re very interactive with the families, as well. That’s probably one of the stars of our event,” said Johnson.

“We have one other chunker coming in, Punkinator. We’ve scheduled them to shoot pumpkins every half-hour, but more or less it’s as soon as they reload, they send another one over. It’s very much as quick as they can shoot them. They love to have the kids come out, and they’ll get right up there and help the guys.”

During the day, for a small fee, families can purchase pumpkins to paint and a scarecrow kit that they can stuff and then take home for decoration. Concessions will also be available, provided by the Indian River High School Future Farmers of America club.

“They’ve been with us for several years now, and they provide the food. So, it’s a fundraiser for them, as well. That helps them offset their costs when they go to their national conference, which is in Indianapolis, Ind.”

How does the Johnson family come up with so many things to do throughout the day and keep it fun?

“A big family!” Johnson explained with a laugh. “I’ve got some very creative family members. My sisters-in-law, my wife – they’re the ones who usually come up with the games. They’ve thought about either what they’ve enjoyed as children or different things they’ve seen over the years.”

The market itself will be open during the event and selling everything from straw bales, to Indian corn, mums and pumpkins.

For those who can’t make it out on Saturday, the you-pick pumpkin patch, corn maze, pallet maze and rope maze will be open every day throughout the month of October, with hay rides offered on the weekends.

The market will also hold a “Spooky Corn Maze” on Oct. 21-22 and 28-29 where, beginning at 7 p.m., spooksters will also be inside the corn maze, aiming to give visitors a fright. For those who’d rather not get a scare, from dusk to 6:30 p.m. on those nights, they can enjoy a traditional flashlight maze.

“In tandem with the spooky corn maze, we’ll have nighttime hayrides. Just fun hayrides – nothing spooky about them,” Johnson assured, “as well as the pallet maze and the rope maze.”

As for the Family Fun Day, Johnson said the community has embraced the event and he hopes they will continue to do so for years to come.

“We’re really looking forward to it. We always have a fun time. It’s great when all of a sudden you have lots of kids running around and having a nice time,” he said. “It’s neat to see some of the families come out that you don’t see so often and then a lot of the regular customers who come in and see us. We get to see a lot of familiar faces, as well.

“You know, you never know how something like this is going to turn out, and we’ve been tickled every year,” he said. “When you get done the day and you say, ‘Wow. Somebody came out and had a good time.’”

Johnson’s County Market is located on Route 20, 1 mile northwest of the Route 54/20 intersection. For more information, call (302) 436-3276 or visit www.johnsonscountrymarket.com. The rain date for the event is set for Saturday, Oct. 22.