Sep. 23—MIDLAND — One of the main fall attractions in the Permian Basin is returning for a 15th season.
Fiddlesticks Farms, run by farmers Jessica and Matt Norton, will open up this weekend, and it's no coincidence that it returns the first week of the beginning of fall.
Fiddlesticks Farms, 5610 E. County Road in Midland, opens Saturday and is scheduled to remain open each weekend until Nov. 19.
Each year, Fiddlesticks Farms usually adds something new: Jessica Norton says that this year's concessions at the farm will be expanded.
"Last year, we expanded our courtyard so we can have more room," Norton said. In that courtyard, we put in a new building called the South Forty where we are serving concession food. The majority of our food will be over there. We also will be selling HTeaO tea out there. We have turned one of our buildings that we had existing on our farm into a bakery called the cookie coop. We have added a couple of structures to the farm. As far as attractions, we haven't changed or really added anything from last year, but we have expanded our concessions and our foods for the year."
Every year, Fiddlesticks Farms brings in families to enjoy the farm's seven-acre corn maze and the 10 acres of pumpkin patch, as well as visiting the farm's animals and other attractions.
It's something Jessica and Matt always look forward to each year.
"It's always very exciting," Jessica said. "This is our 15th fall, so we have a lot of new kids that are going to be working for us this year. But we also have a lot of great returning people that we have, so we're very excited to have everyone working and excited to see all the faces coming out for the fall."
One attraction is a campfire were family and friends can relax on a crisp fall day at the farm and roast hot dogs and make s'mores. A visit to the Learning Barn lets folks meet the many farm animals including cows, calves, goats, sheep and lambs, chickens, pigs and ducks.
A candy blaster takes place at 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. each Saturday and at 5:30 p.m. Sundays in September and October. The candy blaster takes place at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays in November.
Fireworks are scheduled at 9 p.m. every Saturday in October.
Hayrides will also be offered throughout the season.
One popular attraction at the farm includes the Tater Sack Slide.
"The kids love the yellow slide whenever they're out here," Jessica said. "The parents, not so much because they don't want to have to keep walking all the way up the stairs again, but the kids love the yellow slide. The Learning Barn is probably the most popular by everyone. And the flowers were a new addition last year, and they were a big hit with all our customers."
Lots of preparation goes into getting the farm ready for each season.
The heavy rainfall that came across the Permian Basin at the end of August did affect the preparation just a little bit.
"It was much-needed, but it was at the wrong time," Jessica said. "We needed it a little bit earlier in July to get a better stand on the corn maze and the pumpkins and the flowers that we planted. But everything started growing after we got that rain so we were able to have everything germinate. Everything just seems like it's a week late. The maze is still growing. It will continue to grow until it freezes. Even though it was short at the beginning of the season, it will still keep growing until we get a freeze. Same thing with the flowers. Those sunflowers, I saw a couple of the blooms starting to open, but not as many as will be open in a couple of weeks. The pumpkins are doing great. We have staggered them so we'll have pumpkins all throughout the year. We always do, but we staggered them a little bit better so that we have some larger ones now instead of all bigger ones later at the end of the year."
Fiddlesticks Farms is still growing and germinating itself.
"We have always tried to listen to what our customers have requested in the past," Jessica said. "We found the need for the concessions to be expanded, and we have tried working on that. After we are able to recoup from the costs of the new concessions, maybe we can add a new attraction next year. We try to add something new each year and make changes where needed each year."
This year, Fiddlesticks Farms will have about 100 employees working, 10 that are full-time, which is a little bit lower this year.
"Usually we have about 120 that are part-time and have 15 full-time, but just like everywhere across the Permian Basin and the country, everyone is short-staffed," Jessica said. "Nobody wants to work, so what we're doing is trying to make sure the places where employees are needed are there. We've always prided ourselves on customer service. We want to make sure there's people around to help if needed."
More information about Fiddlesticks Farms can be found online at tinyurl.com/yc7dr78f.
If you go
— What: Fiddlesticks Farms.
— When: Every weekend until Nov. 19.
— Where: 5610 E. County Road in Midland.