Local farms prepare for fall activities with new precautions

Sep 7, 2020

Expect smaller crowds and different layouts at local farms that deal in agritourism this fall. It’s all part of new state guidance geared specifically towards businesses the feature pick-your-own fruit operations, hayrides and corn mazes.

Critz Farms Owner Matthew Critz didn’t see anything unexpected in the new state rules.

"We’ve been planning this all for a while, so the regulations were about what we thought they were gonna be,” Critz said.

That means reduced capacity, required face coverings and more social distancing. He’s adding more wagons for hayrides, a new tent for food service, and extra pay stations to eliminate lines. Critz said he and some other operations in central New York will deal with the capacity issue, by requiring online ticketing for visitors. He’s aiming to limit visitors to about one-third of the number of people that came during the busiest days in 2019. And he’s encouraging families to visit on weekdays instead of congested weekends, especially with many school districts going with staggered in-school schedules this year.

"We’ve never had a capacity problem during the week, so we’ll be able to have more people during the week, which will offset not having as many people on the weekends,” Critz said. “We’re hoping that people will realize that Columbus Day Weekend is going to be really busy and they’ll come earlier in the year or later in the year, and that will spread things out more.” 

He doesn’t think families will shy away from what has become a fall tradition in central New York.

"You can show people you are adhering to the governor’s standards,” Critz said. “It won’t be so crowded. It will be safe for you, and I’m concerned about the help and the safety of the help. And it’s outdoors."