Growing up in Arkansas where the biggest cultural event is the annual Wal-Mart Shareholders Meeting, I would watch "Gilmore Girls" and wish that I lived in Stars Hollow, CT, a fictional town that had a different themed festival almost every weekend. My beloved Lorelai and Rory would roll their eyes at yet another Stars Hollow event and would then revel in the small town charm of it all. Now that I live in Syracuse, New York, I am surrounded by small towns that look like Stars Hollow and even have weekend festivals, giving me the chance to pretend that I live on the set of "Gilmore Girls."
On Saturday, the sun was warm, but the air was crisp--my idea of the perfect fall day and the perfect time to attend a fall festival. My boyfriend, James, and I went to Critz Farms, located in Cazenovia, New York, to drink apple cider, get lost in the corn maze, and play with farm animals. The 30-minute drive from Syracuse to Cazenovia was an easy one--with the windows rolled down, we drove down I-92, enjoying the first signs of fall leaves and the charm of each town, village, and hamlet we passed.
When we reached Critz Farms, I spied a man singing "Dinah won't you come?" to a group of enthralled toddlers, was passed by a tractor-pulled hay ride, and almost tackled by a group of 12 year olds running past me. I knew it was going to be a great time.
We started at the Apple Cider Mill. Inside, you could watch cider be made, bag your own peck or half peck of local apples, and buy cider, fudge, and cheese. After purchasing the latter three, we headed toward the main barn, which featured a gift shop of odds and ends, and more cider, fudge, and cheese. After browsing, we decided to try our luck at solving the corn maze.
Upon arrival at Critz Farms, the parking attendant hands you a green punch card, with instructions for the corn maze. You are to walk through it and find information booths set up by the Rosamond-Gifford Zoo. At each of these booths is a trivia question about animals, as well as a hole punch with a designated shape. Once you find the booths, you punch your card, and when you award yourself 5 of the 7 punches, you find your way out of the maze, go to the café, and redeem the card for free apple fritters. The promise of free fritters and the desire to live out my Gilmore fantasies (they definitely had a corn maze festival in Stars Hollow) were my motivations for conquering the 10-acre corn maze. James just wanted the apple fritters.
As we wound our way through the maze, we got a little lost and stumbled upon something else: a Christmas tree farm. Naturally, I jumped up and down, ran out of the corn maze and into the Christmas tree farm. I found a runt of a tree, hugged it, and started quoting "A Charlie Brown Christmas"--it seemed appropriate.
After my time with the trees, we re-entered the maze, found the remaining two booths, exited the maze, and redeemed our apple fritters. The fried, battered apples were well-worth our 45-minutes in a corn field. We then headed to the petting zoo, as I am a sucker for farm animals. There were goats, cows, ducklings, fuzzy llamas, miniature donkeys, pigs, and high-maintenance sheep that would "baa" angrily at people if there was no one in front of their pen.
After playing with the animals, James and I called it a day, fully satisfied. He got free apple fritters and I had a very "Gilmore" day. Rory and Lorelai would have been proud.
Get details, hours and more information about Critz Farms.