Tweite’s Family Farm to open for one final season
As the Harvest Moon rises, it is once again time to start planning the annual trek to the great pumpkin patch. Located just off of Highway 14, a few miles west of town, Tweite’s Family Farm has spent 31 years creating fall memories for families throughout the Rochester area. Next Saturday, September 21 through Sunday, October 20 will be the final season of this iconic local destination.
Back in 1984, Tom and Colleen Tweite started hosting a farmers market selling produce they grew. Then in 1988, they ventured in the agritourism business once they realized that people “enjoyed hanging out in the country” and “getting that farm experience.” During all this time, they have had a fun business relationship. “In any business,” Colleen explains, “there are two types. Tom is great about being creative and building things. It is my job to say where to put things and to ask how much they will cost.”
Throughout it all, Tom and Colleen remain committed to family. Their four daughters — Nichole, Danielle, Molly, and Maggie — grew up helping in the day-to-day farm operations. They, too, have enjoyed meeting many other families and being part of what Tom describes as “magical moments” in life. Tom says that they often have people send them cards and pictures of different celebrations. It has become an annual tradition for countless area families to use Tweite’s creative props for their holiday pictures.
A designated Century Farm, the property has been in Tom’s family for five generations. Their “compound” includes multiple family members living in different houses on or in close proximity to the farm. This includes Tom’s elderly parents, their now grown daughters, and 11 grandchildren.
“Team Tweite,” as they are affectionately known, are vested into the creating and overseeing of the fall festivities. They do hire approximately 40 community helpers, as well. Preparations start in the middle of winter, but by mid-July the family starts making little vignettes and dressing the many scarecrow-like characters that are scattered throughout the farm.
Over the years, different sections have been changed and remodeled. Colleen laughs and indicates that “if you flip some, you will find many things that are old props. We are all about re-purposing.”
However, there are some staples that have hung around. First, there is the award-winning Corn Maze. It is 12 acres and professionally designed. Each year there is a new theme. Guests sometimes do get lost, but that is half the fun. Modernization has come and game cards now include GPS instructions to use on smart phones.
The Enchanted Forest was planted in the early 1980s and is filled with 29 gnomes and 19 fairies. Old McGeezer’s Golf Course is specially designed for both young and older enthusiasts. There is also a Gem Mine located in the Fun Park. All of the displayed “Blue Ribbon” pumpkins are homegrown and sold according to size. There is also the “U-pick” pumpkin patch to search for that “special one” that is unique to each individual. Giggling kids, along their parents, grandparents, relatives, and friends, are always filling the continuous hayrides. Some couples even are known to go on romantic dates to Tweite’s.
The original 1958 cattle barn was remodeled in the 1990s, and now houses a museum of various unique antiques that were collected from the farm. It also has an emporium of candied apples, homemade fudge, baked goods, sauces, jams, and jellies. A special friend, Spookley, watches over everything in the gift shop. He is the beloved children’s character who is a square pumpkin in a round patch. His uplifting story is about anti-bullying, self-empowerment, and making special friends.
Albeit sad to be ending this phase of their lives, Tom says, “We are choosing to close now. Studies show that we are living longer, and when we retire, we will still have one-third of our lives left.” He stresses, “it is important to live life to the fullest, therefore we want to enjoy time with our family.”
Colleen adds, “we are currently at our peak, so this is a good time to stop.” She quotes one of her favorite TEDx Talks, Living Abundantly by Doug Smith, “when you retire, make sure you do not die before you are dead.” She declares she looking forward to tons of new adventures.
What are some of your personal “Magical Moments” at Tweite’s Family Farm? Please share in the comments on our Facebook page.
Maka Boeve moved to Rochester from South Florida during the 1991 Halloween blizzard and has never quite thawed out. She has Communications and Education degrees from the University of Florida and University of Minnesota. To support her travel junkie habits, she has been a high school substitute teacher for 19 years, but has secretly always desired to go back to her journalist roots.