Butch Schappacher runs the family-owned Schappacher Farms in Mason. Photo by Tony Tribble
For many area families, fall just isn’t complete without a trip to Schappacher Farms.
The family-owned farm, situated on 65 acres along U.S. 42 between Mason and Lebanon, welcomes as many as 15,000 guests each October at its annual fall festival.
Visitors come out to look for the “perfect” pumpkin from the farm’s 15-acre pumpkin patch or find their way through the eight-acre corn maze. The farm also offers tractor rides, a petting zoo and other fruits of the Schappacher family’s labors.
The family-friendly event began 20 years ago when daughter Ashley’s preschool class asked to visit the farm, said Butch Schappacher, who owns the farm with wife Sherry and parents, Al and Minerva Schappacher.
Animals at Schappacher Farms in Mason are always a big hit with families each fall. File photo
In keeping with its family-oriented roots, festival admission and activities are free.
“People appreciate that,” said Butch Schappacher. “You can go anyplace and buy a pumpkin, but you can’t get a free hay ride and corn maze to go with it.”
Schappacher, 59, is the third-generation of his family to run the farm, which produces several varieties of corn, zucchini and squash, green beans, vine-ripened tomatoes and cucumbers.
But come fall, pumpkins are king at this Mason farm. In addition to basic pie pumpkins and Jack O’ Lanterns, the farm is known for its specialty pumpkins, such as the harder-to-find Jarrahdale, fairytale, peanut and giant varieties. Also popular are squash and gourds, hand-dipped caramel apples and cider.
“Some are here 10 minutes picking up pumpkins and others are here half the day,” said Schappacher of visitors.
Some visitors arrive in the family car or by school bus. Others ride the rails on the Pumpkin Patch Express. The vintage 1930s train chugs out every weekend in October for a 2½ hour non-scary Halloween ride and scenic tour of Warren County, with a 75 minute layover at Schapacher Farms.
The family farm got its roots in 1948 when Al and Minerva Schappacher purchased 260 acres along Mason-Montgomery Road where Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble would later build its $300 million health-care research facility.
Then the family farmed mostly corn and soybeans, with some cattle and hay. The family sold that land and moved to its current operation in the early 1980s.
“It’s all I’ve ever done,” said Schappacher. “I used to sit on the tractor from morning to midnight in our busy time. We used to plow the field, work the field at least two to three times, plant the field and go back in and cultivate the field.”
While technological advancements have helped reduce manpower and time needed for farming, Schappacher says the life of a farmer doesn’t end after harvest.
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