As snow threatens to fall in upper Michigan and students begin to prepare for the final month of the semester, it is important to find time to escape and enjoy the beauty of autumn. The U.P. is home to many outdoor fall events that many deem nostalgic.
Earlier this month, Governor Whitmer declared October as Michigan Agritourism Month, according to Michigan.gov. While COVID-19 has affected agritourism, the outdoor nature of fall festivities has allowed it to continue. Less than an hour outside of Marquette, in St. Nicholson, near Rock, Michigan, several agritourist attractions exist.
Hayes Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch offers a petting zoo, pumpkin patch and two mazes, one being the midwestern classic corn maze, according to hayescornmaze.com. Students should be aware that while a sign requiring masks upon entry is posted at the entrance, masks are not enforced once granted entry, in my personal experience. They will be open until Oct. 31 and are located along the same road as another fall staple: Barron Orchards.
Located less than two miles from Hayes Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch is a locally owned and run business. Carolyn and Jim Barron provide many varieties of apples, including honeycrisp, sweet sixteen, regent, and more from hundreds of trees in their orchard.
“We have about 700 apple trees of about a dozen varieties. We have been growing apples for thirty plus years. The trees are mostly semi-dwarf with some dwarf trees,” Carolyn said.
While visitors are unable to pick their own apples, Carolyn explained that they choose to pick the apples themselves to maintain the quality of their produce and that this choice is not related to COVID-19.
“We had no idea what the pandemic would mean to apple sales this year. We were pleasantly surprised with customer response. People are eager to get out, go for a drive in the country, and more people are processing their own food. Thus, apple sales have increased,” Carolyn said.
Barron Orchards is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon until 5 p.m. They are located at 12246 Farmfield Road in Rock, MI.
Students who are unable to drive may be somewhat limited in their choices in gatherings of fall festivities as the Marquette haunted hayride has been cancelled, however, there is a reason that events have been cancelled. Other places to go are the trails all throughout Marquette. These are safe places for those who are concerned about COVID-19 and who do not have a vehicle. While it may be upsetting to see typical fall events altered or cancelled, there are still many ways to celebrate safely.