Cox Farms: when simple is best

I could give you a long list of Virginia farms that host fall festivals and pumpkin patches, but instead I will save time by simply listing the best one, Cox Farms.

The Centreville, Virginia, farm has hosted one of the area’s biggest and arguably the best fall festivals which has become a local tradition for generations of local families. While the physical farm has moved from its original spot near Herndon, Virginia, where it started with 40 acres in 1972, the current location of 116 acres on Braddock Road., purchased in 1979, is the current home to the famed fall festival, which runs from the end of September until after Halloween.

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For older kids and teens, the Fields of Fear is the main attraction, a nighttime haunt event coined Corn Nightmare, in which over 20 acres of corn fields feature frightening displays and costumed characters jumping out at visitors, and there’s plenty of chainsaws, of course.

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After dark, the fun and bumpy hayride that usually takes riders through a storybook land of characters and bounces them through mud puddles and streams, becomes the Darkside Hayride in which riders are accosted by a host of villainous predators.

While Cox Farms has upgraded their production values each year, their rides and attractions are a far cry from Disney World, and that’s a good thing. The thing I love about Cox Farms is it’s homegrown, homemade feeling.

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From the not-so-perfect renderings of fairytale characters to the obvious latex masks on the friendly aliens who threaten to adduct visitors on the hayride, Cox Farms makes their fall festival feel down home and approachable.

All over the farm, there are activities to do that actually involve kids playing and using their imagination. Expected at at farm, there are rope swings where kids can launch into bales of hay, and there are tunnels and mazes of hay to play in, and there are a number of slides, on which kids race each other down the hill sitting on burlap sacks. There are also educational stations, where kids open doors and wooden panels to get the answers to questions about agriculture and farm animals, such as how fast can a chicken run (answer: 9 mph).

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Also down on the farm, kids can also get up close and personal with pigs and cows and other livestock, and they can feed goats with ice cream cones filled with alfalfa sprouts.

There is plenty to do for everyone of all ages at the farm, and there’s many food options, from typical burgers and fries fare to some of the best kettle corn I’ve ever had; and there’s also free apple cider from barrels with a spout, but watch out for yellow jackets that also like the sweet stuff.

While mostly the farm is DIY fun, the red-aproned staff around Cox Farms are always eager to help out, and the atmosphere is casual and friendly.

Many families come back year after year, often documenting their children’s growth with a photo of the kids standing beside a measuring stick by the toddler play area. Other souvenirs are available at the quaint market shop which visitors pass through as they exit.
As guests leave the fall Festival, each gets to choose their own small pumpkin, which is just pumpkin spice to top off a great day on the farm.

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