A modest Christmas tree farm that started with 200 Scotch pines in 1985 has grown to become a major fall and Christmas holiday destination with activities for the whole family.
Last weekend’s turnout was a record-setter, said Tom Dull, who with his wife Kerri owns Dull’s Tree Farm at 1765 W. Blubaugh Ave., just north of Mechanicsburg.
“We had more than 4,000 people — more people than we’ve ever had on the farm,” he said, noting that a real estate company invited all of their clients, which swelled the attendance Sunday by 800 to 900 people.
“It was almost too big,” Dull said. “Parking was an issue and it took us two and a half hours to get the line of cars off of the road and into the parking lot.”
That said, Dull said attendance for the sixth annual Pumpkin Harvest festivities — which run from Sept. 28 to Oct. 27 — may be down overall, thanks to temperatures in the 90s on the first weekend.
The Dulls moved into their historic 1800s Boone County farmstead a mile west of Indiana 39 when they were married in 1982. That first Christmas, they drove 30 miles to pick out a Christmas tree. Over the next few years they developed a plan to create their own Christmas tree farm.
Encouraged when those first 200 Scotch pines survived, they planted more trees over the next seven years and began building a fledgling Christmas tree business.
Their son Lucas left a job as an engineer in the fall of 2013 to pursue a career in agritourism and, with his wife Dana, moved back to the farm. They developed the fall Pumpkin Harvest that launched in the fall of 2014 to add a fall season consisting of u-pick pumpkins, an eight-acre corn maze, and many other activities.
The Dulls continue to add activities and features to their 50-acre farm, including the conversion of an historic log cabin into the Stone Cabin Inn, a bed-and-breakfast that can accommodate groups of up to 30 people for family gatherings or special events. The inn, open from Jan. 2 to Nov. 2, shuts down during the Christmas tree season.
Activities for children include a corn bin, tire mountain, oversize slingshots, big slides, trike-tor racing, the popular pumpkin cannon and a barrel train.
New this year is a combine playground.
“We put an old John Deere combine out in the pasture,” Dull said. “We gutted it, took the motor out and made the cab safe so kids can get in it and turn the steering wheel. They can climb into the grain bin and slide out the back. The corn picker head has been converted into five identical slides and we extended the unload arm and hung a triangular-shaped climbing net.”
The months-long reconstruction of the Ind. 39 bridge over Sugar Creek at Mechanicsburg has necessitated a 20-minute detour for visitors coming from the south, but Dull doesn’t think it’s hurt business significantly.
The new bridge is expected to be complete by the end of this month, he said, adding, “That’s great news for the tree business.”
The Pumpkin Harvest is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and from 1 to 7 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $10 per person, with children 2 and younger admitted free, and $7 a person for senior citizens over 65 and for active duty military.
Visitors can buy five shots with the Country Air Cannons for $3. Pony rides are $5 a ride and pumpkins are 35 cents a pound or 45 cents a pound for specialty pumpkins.