NORMAL – Kids have their yearly chance to learn about agriculture while exploring the grounds of Rader Family Farms in Normal, which is now open for the season.
The agri-tainment venue is open during September and October and includes a corn maze, tram rides, combine slide, giant jumping pillow and pumpkin patch. Adam Rader says this year’s pumpkin crop looks good.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword since we are also corn and soybean farmers,” Rader admits. “The pumpkins enjoy the dry weather but right now, I’m really wishing we got a good rain for the corn and beans.”
A new animal barn is located on the north end of the farm for visitors to enjoy.
“We moved all of our animals out of the center and they’ll have a big pasture area where they can stay year-round,” explained Rader.
Another project this year included plenty of underground work which may not be noticed but it was necessary. The Raders have been working on a network system and brought in a new power service as well. This will help the family plan for the next 10 years.
Also this year, some of the food venues have been recreated and the traffic flow has been altered as visitors will be directed to different areas due to the possibility of future building additions.
“That’s always exciting to think about those things and we feel really blessed to be able to grow right now,” Rader said.
The business resulted from an attempt to diversify the operation several years ago to keep the kids on the farm and to guide them through the waves of farming.
“It is really growing and we keep thinking we are going to just keep growing as time goes on,” Lynn Rader explained in a previous Central Illinois Farm Network interview.
Lynn enjoys the community support and making memories for different families. Kids who visit the farm have the chance to learn where their food comes from and how agriculture changes constantly while still providing plenty of career opportunities.
Adam acknowledges one of the challenges is staying current and having enough employees to grow.
“Weather is still a factor in our season. Last year was a wetter season and it affected how many people got to come out to the farm.”
Upcoming events at the farm include the Ropp Road Round-up Festival Sept. 21-22 along with Chick-Fil-A and flashlight maze nights Sept. 28 and Oct. 19 and the Last Lazy Daze on Oct. 27.
More information can be found at www.raderfamilyfarms.com, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 309-454-6880. The farm is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.