Chester County farm fights to keep fall traditions alive despite COVID-19

CHESTER SPRINGS, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- This year has bucked all kinds of tradition, but one thing is for certain: The pandemic will not stop kids from visiting the pumpkin patch.

"COVID definitely makes things a little bit complicated," said Lauren Brauer, of Lionville.

At Milky Way Farm in Chester Springs, the owners said the pandemic threw a wrench in normal fall plans.

To limit capacity, they're now requiring people to buy tickets in advance, something they've never done in the last 35 years of business.

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"We think it's working, knock on wood," said Milky Way Farm Manager Jane Ferris. "We've got people using their masks and keeping socially distant. We're using milk cans to help denote our spots in line, sort of like the dots on the ground."

"I think it was nice how they made sure people were wearing masks and they were trying to get people to social distance," said Veronica Saragovi of Malvern.

Aside from tickets needing to be purchased in advance, hayrides are private, with a 20 person maximum.

"We just wanted to pay for the private hayride because we weren't sure how many people would be on it," said Hayden Briggs of King of Prussia. "Just extra precaution type of thing."

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Ferris said the family had to decide in June if the farm was going to have their pumpkin patch this year. She said they wanted to keep the fall tradition alive.

"Being able to see people - family and friends all come this time of year and we love to welcome them, so it's nice to be able to share and give back the space we love with everybody else," said Ferris.

Another part of the farm experience is their on-site Chester Springs Creamery. The creamery hours were reduced from six days a week to weekends only.

"We've switched from inside seating mode to take-out only mode so there are red dots spread seven feet apart from one to two people can stand per dot," said Carolyn Matthews Eaglehouse, Chester Springs Creamery President.

But even with the masks and the precautions, visiting families said it's all about keeping the fall tradition alive, despite 2020's curveballs.

"We do this every year," said Cindie Bartholomew of Downington "So you gotta pick your pumpkins. You got to have your jack-o-lanterns for Halloween."
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