Grampa?s Farm draws 1,500 in opening weekend
Jim Severt of Merrill, known to many as “Grampa,” has been collecting antiques and old farm equipment his whole life. When his first grandchild was born 13 years ago, he knew that he wanted all children to be able to experience what life was like in the past, as well as enjoy interacting with farm animals. He wanted there to be a place for families to come and enjoy spending time with one another outdoors. The idea of Grampa’s Farm was born.
This is the fifth year that his dream continues to come true for a few weeks each fall. He and his extended family and friends have spent countless hours preparing the farm for visits by school children during the week and the public on weekends. They love to see the kids dressing up in bonnets, dresses or bibs to wear while they play in the one-room schoolhouse or do laundry using a washboard. The children get to shell a cob of corn and use fabric to turn it into a corn cob doll just like Laura Ingalls did long ago. Other old-time experiences include milking a cow by hand, stamping their initials on a piece of wood to take home, seeing how apple cider is made using a cider press, and tasting homemade ice cream.
Lessons in history aren’t the only activities taking place. Families take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch where each youngster chooses a pumpkin to take home. Children also are able to play in sandboxes full of corn, climb a giant haystack with tunnels, take a pony ride or walk through the corn maze. Each year, Jim and his crew of volunteers try to add a few new experiences. Last year it was a 40 foot working windmill and this year they expanded the tire playground.
A big part of Grampa’s Farm is the petting zoo. It is important to Jim that the children be able to pick up and touch the animals. They can walk right in the gate and pet the goats, calf, miniature donkey and horse, sheep, ducks and other large animals. The smaller critters like miniature pigs, bunnies and chicks are in enclosures where the kids can reach right in to pick them up and hold them.
“Grampa” knows that money can be tight while raising a family. That is why he keeps the admission cost as low as possible and there are no additional charges once people enter. He doesn’t want parents to have to say “no” to any activity that their child would like to experience. Once families are in the gate, the only extra cost would be to purchase food or snacks.
One of the places to buy a treat is the Red Shed. All proceeds from the caramel apples and popcorn being sold go to the charity running it that day. Last weekend it was operated by Peyton’s Promise which raises awareness and funds to feed local hungry children. The Broken Spoke lunch stand offers fresh cooked food at a reasonable cost and folks are welcome to carry in food to eat at the picnic tables provided as well.
Last weekend was the first of three weekends Grampa’s Farm is open this year. They had over 1,500 people experience hours of fun from 15 different cities. Comments in the Guest Book included, “We love this place!” “Best fall activity ever!” “Wonderful, great family fun!” and “Awesome experience!” As one couple finished the corn maze and were asked what they thought of it, they said “Amazing.”
Jim says it is very rewarding to see his family and friends working together to provide such a positive experience. Each person volunteers their time because they share Jim’s vision of Grampa’s Farm; a place where families can spend quality time together, learning and having fun.
Owners, Jim and Denise Severt, said, “It is our family’s goal to provide a fun and educational experience for other families to enjoy.”
Grampa’s Farm is located at N2613 Norwegian Rd. north of Merrill. The farm will be open the next two weekends, Oct. 4-5 and Oct. 11-12, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each day.