In rural Fairmont: Orchards offer taste of autumn
Fall is quickly approaching and the new season will offer a different set of activities. What better way to celebrate than by visiting a local apple orchard?
Center Creek Orchard, located southeast of Fairmont at 663 254th Ave., opens for the season today. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Gordy and Karen Toupal own the site.
This weekend only, they are open Saturday, Sunday and Monday for Labor Day. Going forward, the orchard will be open every weekend in September and October, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
“We’ll be open on Friday each weekend. So people can just come and get apples if they want,” Karen said.
This year, there are some changes at the orchard because of COVID-19. Karen said there will an outdoor limit of 250 visitors, so they suggest that people reserve a time online. Times will be available in two-hour blocks.
“It’s going to be a work in progress. It’s something new,” she said.
While the feature is not ready yet, Karen said it will help in the future because if she looks and sees just 100 people have reserved a time, she knows she can let in 150 more.
Karen said social distancing will be followed throughout the orchard, and sanitization stations have been set up.
Apples will be sold out of the front of the barn, so people do not need to go inside. All the traditional food Center Creek serves will still be available.
While some changes have taken place, there are still a lot of the same outdoor activities for families to enjoy. There is a super slide, barrel rides, apple slinging, duck races and a scary forest. Families also can build a scarecrow, play mini golf or go on a hayride.
The bounce pad will not be available this year, but something new will be in its place.
“We put in a new climbing wall. They can go down the slide and then climb the wall up. We think it will work hand in hand because they’re side by side,” Karen said.
The orchard also gives visitors the chance to pick their own pumpkins from the patch.
Center Creek offers a dozen varieties of apples. First Kiss is the new one from the University of Minnesota. Other seasonal apples include Sweet Tango, Zestar, Honeycrisp and Haralson.
“It’s been a great year for apples,” Karen said.
Admission is $9 per person. Season passes will not be available this year as there are too many uncertainties in the age of COVID-19.
Timberlake Orchard, located at 176 200th Avenue in rural Fairmont, also recently opened for the season.
It has peaches, pears, plums and nectarines available that it sells by the pound. Zestar and Sweet Tango apples have been picked and are available for purchase.
Timberlake is home to about 3,500 trees spanning 5 acres. It has 27 varieties of apples.
Several years ago, a full kitchen was built that allows Timberlake to bake its own goods, including pies, cider donuts and turnovers.
Timberlake is part of Minnesota Grown, so its store offers goods from all over the state. This includes home decor items, soup mixes, dips and speciality coffees.
Timberlake is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.