After a gloomy Friday, we were excited to get out of the house Saturday afternoon. We headed to Shady Brook Farm for their Strawberry Festival. It was our first time back at Shady Brook since Henry’s birthday in October, and since most of our outings take place on weekdays while my husband works, it was nice to have a day out the 4 of us. (Although I just realized that we neglected to actually get a picture with all 4 of us!)
Tickets for the event are $12 at the gate, or $10 if you order online in advance. (There’s also $1.20 processing fee online.) Tickets are cheaper if you go Wednesday through Friday, but they don’t have the food concessions, music, and some of the activities. Children under 2 are free. Your ticket includes a tractor ride out to the strawberry fields for picking. (You pay by the pound for whatever you pick as you’re leaving the grounds.) In addition, you get access to the Festival Field, which has a lot of activities for kids: Barnyard animals (goats, chickens, turkeys), an animatronic chicken show, playground, go-carts, rope spider web, water pump duck racing, bounce pillows and more. Oh, and there’s also live music!
At 4-1/2 and 3, Henry and Charlotte are really the perfect age for the Shady Brook festivals. We spent around 4 hours there picking strawberries, eating lunch, snacking, and enjoying all the different activities.
We arrived around 11:30, and the kids wanted to head right to the playground and go-carts. The go-carts are actually the only thing that they still have some trouble with, but that doesn’t stop them from wanting to check them out! (They just end up getting pushed for some of it!)
Afterwards, we grabbed lunch. The kids and I stuck with good ol’ chicken tenders and fries, and my husband got a pork roll sandwich. (NOTE: Henry devours these chicken fingers whenever we have them. In fact, I commented today that he’s getting an adult portion next time because he always ends up eating some of mine!) We sat at a picnic table and munched on lunch while we listened to the live music on the stage.
After lunch, we picked up our usual bag of Best Darn Kettlecorn because I truly don’t think we’ve ever gone to Shady Brook and NOT bought Best Darn Kettlecorn! It’s a great snack while you’re walking around, and then we usually bring more than half of it home. It comes in a tie-up bag and lasts for days. Then Henry jumped on the bounce pillows. For whatever reason, Charlotte wasn’t into them today. While I watched Henry jump, Charlotte and Daddy went over to the silo to get some adult beverages. There’s a silo right in the middle of the field with beer, wine from Rose Bank Winery, and a few cocktails. We tried the festival’s signature drink – The Farmer’s Daughter. It had muddled strawberries, apple juice, vodka … and other deliciousness. I actually just tried to look up recipes on Pinterest, and apparently there are several variations of this drink. All I can say is, if you go to the Strawberry Festival and you enjoy a nice summery drink – GET IT. We loved it so much that we shared two of them while walking around the festival.
Toward the back of Festival Field, on the left, you’ll find a row of different ball games – soccer, basketball and baseball pitching. Next to that, there’s rubber ducky racing with water pumps. And there’s typically a wooden obstacle course area, but that’s under construction right now. The rubber ducky water pumps are just simple fun, and I’ve never seen it crowded. So it’s a nice spot to chill out while the kids see how fast they can make the ducks go.
Next up … actually picking some strawberries!
The tractor wagon rides to the fields let you off where they had a bounce house and the Shady Brook Farm chalk truck. The kids jumped a bit. (Which was actually a big deal, since they usually hate enclosed things like that!) And they also had some fun drawing inside and outside the chalk truck.
The kids wanted to revisit some favorites, so we stopped at the playground and go-carts again. We visited the goats, and then we stopped to pan for gems! This is one of the few activities that isn’t included in admission. It’s $8 for a large bag (small is less), but since the kids get their collection out fairly often (we’ve done it once before with them) it’s a fun activity there and a souvenir to bring home. While I only took videos, Charlotte also loved the chicken show. That’s right near Uncle Dave’s Ice Cream stand.
Before heading out, we had to stop for some Uncle Dave’s Ice Cream. Since we’d been eating the whole time, we opted to just share a kid’s cup of vanilla beanie. (NOTE: They don’t have sprinkles at the stand inside the field. So if that’s a deal breaker for your crew, walk out to the main Uncle Dave’s spot next to the Market.) While we just shared the one cup, I was intrigued by the special flavor they were offering and asked for a sample: Lavender Ice Cream with Sesame Seeds and Chocolate Chips. I know. It sounds strange. But WOW. I might be making a trip to Shady Brook sometime soon just for ice cream if I know they’ll have it.
All in all, it was a great family day at a favorite local spot of ours!
A Few Tips:
While you’re at the Festival, the only bathrooms are port-a-potties. But there’s a a long row of them all the way to the right behind the food stand and past the stage. There are also a few more over on the left by the go-carts. If you can’t handle port-a-potties, you could go to the bathroom inside the Shady Brook Market, but it’s a hike, so it’d be better to do that when you’re leaving for the day. If you need to nurse or change a diaper, there’s a station for that behind the gem panning.
The grounds are stroller friendly. The only time you’ll have to leave your stroller is to take the wagon out to the strawberry field.
Coolers etc are not permitted. So if you don’t plan to buy lunch there, just eat before arriving. On that note, they’re not going to search your bags, so no big deal if you bring water bottles and a few snacks.
Keep an eye on the lines for concessions. There are two main food areas, and the lines can get long during prime lunch time. So if you see that the line isn’t long and you’re at all hungry, eat then! Don’t wait! We walked right up, but by 12:30, the line was getting longer.
Yes, ticket prices will add up, but you’re paying for a day’s worth of entertainment between the strawberry picking, live music and other activities. If you’d rather save some money, visit Wednesday through Friday. Tickets are $7 online, $8 at the door. Strawberries are $3.49/pound.
And if you truly JUST want to pick strawberries, visit None Such Farm! As I mentioned in my post about cheap/free things to do, they offer strawberry picking where you only pay for what you pick. No extras.
Shady Brook Farm’s Strawberry Festival continues Sunday, June 13 and Saturday, June 19.