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Southern Belle opens fall season in milestone year

 

By Alex Welch
Assistant Editor 

  As fall approaches, one local farm is preparing for season  change with activities for the whole family to enjoy while celebrating a milestone in its lengthy history in McDonough.

  Southern Belle Farm, located on Turner Church Road, has belonged to Jake Carter and his family for 75 years. Carter’s great-grandfather purchased the land they use today back in 1938, but the family was farming the land well before that date.

  In 2006, Southern Belle began inviting the public to test their navigation skills in the farm’s corn maze. For eight years now, the farm has incorporated the maze, hayrides and more into their annual fall festivities.

Jake Carter, one of the owners of Southern Belle Farm, steps out from the entrance of the farm’s corn maze. This year’s design celebrates 75 years of Carter ownership.
                                                           Photo by Alex Welch

  Carter said the Southern Belle “Maize” starts each year around June or July and features a new design that he and his father, Jimmy, pick out.

  “We’ll harvest the corn in January, usually to feed our cows. We’ll tear everything out and let it sit idle. In June or July, we’ll start working the ground and preparing again for the upcoming season,” said Carter. “We plant the field and come up with a design we want to use. We try to pick something of significance each year. Last year we did ‘Proud to be an American Farmer.’”

  This year’s design includes a 75th anniversary recognition, along with a milk jug and a strawberry to represent where the farm started and what activities it’s involved in today. Southern Belle’s berry-picking season is one of the highlights of the farm in the spring.

  Of all the designs to this date, Carter said his favorite came from a few years ago when the corn maze featured former Georgia Bulldogs announcer Larry Munson. Carter, a former walk-on at the university, felt it praised Munson’s lengthy history with UGA.

  “That Munson one was probably our favorite. I got the chance to know him, and we thought that’d be a good opportunity to pay tribute to a man that’s given a lot to that university,” said Carter.

  While the maze designs are intricate, the time it takes to complete amounts to less than a standard workday. Carter said The Maize Company, which is based out of Utah, comes in and takes roughly five hours to cut out the design.

  The maze has three levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Carter said there are about three or four miles of paths inside, and they include questions to help guide guests through the corn.

  “We have what we call passports out there. You’ll come to a crossroad in the maze; there are about 10 of them. If you answer it right, you’ll go the right way. If you get it wrong, it’ll take you on a path that takes a little more time,” said Carter.

  Southern Belle opens for the fall on Saturday, Sept. 21. Admission is typically $12 for visitors ages 3 and up, but the farm will have a special $7.50 deal for the opening weekend to celebrate its anniversary. Seventy-five years in McDonough is a significant mark for an industry that isn’t as common in modern society.

  “It’s awesome, simply the fact that 75 years ago this community was a very rural farming community, and to operate a farm was the norm. To be able to continue on that tradition and that heritage that our forefathers set for us in farming, it’s great to be able to continue to farm in a community that isn’t necessarily rural anymore,” said Carter.

  Fall festivities at Southern Belle, along with the maze, include hayrides, pig races, peddle carts, a cow train for the children and several other activities each weekend. The farm has its own pumpkin patch where guests can select and cut their own pumpkins, which are priced by the pound.

  Southern Belle is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 1-6 p.m. Guests can purchase special $7.50 tickets Sept. 21-22 on opening weekend, and teachers receive free admission on those two days. The farm’s fall activities run until Nov. 3. For more information on Southern Belle Farm, visit southernbellefarm.com.

 

 

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