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Bask in the allure of fall in Whatcom County: Pumpkins, mazes and more

October visit to Willetta Farm promises history, fun, and homey feel

Willetta Farm features a large pumpkin patch and is a popular destination for field trips and locals in October.
Willetta Farm features a large pumpkin patch and is a popular destination for field trips and locals in October. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
By Audra Anderson Assistant Editor

This time each year, many of us are looking for an excuse to bask in Mother Nature’s autumnal grand finale before winter seals us indoors.

Pumpkin patches, apple picking, hay rides, corn mazes, baked goods and hot drinks draw thousands of visitors to Whatcom County farms every October. 

Willetta Farm in Everson wraps most of those attractions into a thoughtful, homey experience for the whole family. Driving down East Badger Road, the 100-acre, fifth-generation farm is easy to miss — but you shouldn’t.  

photo  Robbie, Willetta Farm’s resident cat, roams around some pumpkins in the sunshine. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

In 2015, Willetta opened to visitors during weekends in October and school kids during weekdays, offering pumpkin picking, horse-drawn wagon rides, animal feeding and petting stations, kids activities (including a pumpkin slingshot), and homemade treats and trinkets. The farm even boasts “the world’s smallest museum,” a tiny shed displaying documents, tools and equipment from the early to mid-20th century. 

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, visitors can stop by to spend time with their families and admire the country scenery. The allure of visiting a place like Willetta? 

“Being out in creation, and seeing the beauty of it all,” Louise DeVries said.   

DeVries, born in 1946, grew up on the family farm with her three sisters. Farm life isn’t polished, she said, and Willetta doesn’t pretend to be. 

photo  While telling a captive audience “dad” jokes, Tim Cramer steers Ryp and Ramsey on a wagon ride around Willetta Farm. “He eats a lot of Laffy Taffy,” Louise DeVries said of her son-in-law’s corny jokes. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

During a recent Sunday visit to the farm, I was joined by DeVries on a wagon ride, helmed by her son-in-law Tim Cramer. We climbed into the hand-built wagon and settled onto weathered green leather, reminiscent of school bus seats. “Alright, ready for a ride?” Cramer called back to the wagon passengers. 

As Cramer navigated the wagon pulled by two horses through a small grove of trees, he regaled riders with the history of Willetta Farm, the name of which is a combination of DeVries’ father and mother, William and Etta Ripperda. When we reached rolling pastures, Cramer directed the two horses to pull the wagon in tight circles, to the delight of passengers. 

photo  Louise DeVries points to a photo of herself on Willetta Farm in the 1950s. DeVries and her family still operate the farm originally bought by her mother and father. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

DeVries recalled some of her own memories as we bumped along the makeshift trail. In the early 1950s, her father would blow up tree stumps with dynamite to clear the land, although DeVries and her sisters watched for the purpose of entertainment. 

“After the war, the government had a big surplus of dynamite, so they’d sell it to farmers for cheap,” DeVries said. The dynamite application is now framed and hanging on the walls of the farm’s museum. “We’d come out here, and daddy would light the dynamite, then my oldest sister and I would run to the wagon and dive underneath it. I can’t believe we never got hurt, but we never did.” 

Back at the barn, visitors enjoyed homemade olibolen (a Dutch treat similar to an apple doughnut), pumpkin loaves and cookie decorating kits.

photo  Brenda Asplund, right, holds her grandson Jayce, 4, while on a wagon ride around Willetta Farm on Sunday, Oct. 1. The farm provides rides, pumpkins, games, food and drink, and more. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

Lynden resident Alla Yarovoy sat at a table inside the barn on Sunday watching her son Vincent smear orange frosting on a pumpkin-shaped sugar cookie. Yarovoy said her family has been coming to Willetta since they moved to the area four years ago.

Now, a trip to the farm has a permanent spot on their fall bucket list.

“It’s that perfect, sunny, crisp day wandering around the pumpkin patch. We just love that they have so many fun things for guests — it’s not just taking pictures. There’s so much to enjoy,” Yarovoy said. 

She noted the amount of interactive elements Willetta offers, from the Bug House, where 6-year-old Vincent likes to spend time learning about creepy crawlers, to the slides and games.

photo  Louise DeVries’ grandson Kellen, 8, pulls back a slingshot to launch a mini pumpkin into a field, aiming for a series of targets. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

Willetta keeps most of its activities free to ensure it’s an accessible experience for every family, DeVries said. Handfuls of guests wandered the property on Sunday, inspecting fat pumpkins in the patch, patting the noses of the horses, and playing chase in the back pastures. DeVries’ grandchildren manned a pumpkin shack, and her daughter played cashier at the checkout counter for the flow of smiling guests. 

The happiness Willetta curates is unmistakable. By the end of a visit to the farm, you’ll feel like part of the family.

“We’re all people lovers. Just hearing people laugh — there’s something joyful about that. It’s so good for the soul,” DeVries said.

Willetta Farm at 1945 E. Badger Road in Everson is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in October. Info:

Bellewood Farms 

It’s hard to find a parking spot on a sunny October day at Bellewood Farms, located at 6140 Guide Meridian in Lynden — and for good reason. Throughout the month, the farm features a pumpkin patch, corn maze, tractor rides and apple picking in addition to its other attractions: a country store, Ten Mile Cafe and the distillery (with free tastings). This year, Bellewood is offering a new pumpkin booth, and a new applewood-smoked bourbon (to tie into the farm’s other apple products). 

Bellewood debuted its fall attractions on Sunday, Oct. 1, and will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday until Oct. 29. The farm draws huge crowds, so beware of long lines or picked-through pumpkins, especially late into the month.  

The U-pick apple orchard and pumpkin patch are what inspire the masses to venture down the Guide. It’s also Bellewood Owner Eric Abel’s favorite aspect of the farm.

“It’s more for education,” Abel said of U-pick. “We like to teach the community where their food comes from. We love the agriculture part … A lot of our products go into local grocery stores.” 

Bellingham resident Morgan Freed showed up with her daughter, Ruby, to pick apples on Sunday’s opening day. While Freed said it was important to support local orchards, 3-year-old Ruby just liked the “shiny apples,” she said. 

“Being outdoors with the kids obviously is fun,” Freed said. “The fall season is sort of special. We don’t get to do this year-round.”


Dan Cramer’s Western Town

photo  Dan Cramer’s Western Town on Wednesday, Oct. 4 a few days before its season-opening on Friday, Oct. 6. The town is open daily through the month of October, and features a classic pumpkin patch, pony rides, cotton candy and activities in each building on the property. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

After following Hannegan Road for a while, take a turn and you’ll happen upon Dan Cramer’s Western Town, located at 956 Van Dyk Road in Lynden. 

The attraction has been operating for 22 years, owner Dan Cramer said, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Friday, Oct. 6.

Enter the driveway, and the first thing you’ll see is row of buildings made to look like an old Western town, complete with a “hotel,” saloon, blacksmith, barn and livery stable. 

photo  Cramer’s Western Town has goats, sheep, ponies, draft horses, chickens, piglets and more. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

During the month of October, fall and Halloween decorations pepper the landscape, and a hay bale maze is built into one of the Western buildings. Travel further out back, and visitors will find miniature ponies, a sow and her piglets, goats, sheep, and Clydesdale horses — and a pumpkin patch, of course. This year, the Western Town will also have two Mexican food trucks and a newly constructed coffee hut. 

On a Wednesday visit to the farm, just a few days before it opens for the season, workers were busy preparing for the 2,000 preschoolers, bustling weekend crowds and five assisted-living facilities the Western Town will entertain this year. 

photo  Geoff Brown feeds packaged tostadas to Loretta the sow. Loretta will be joined by piglets as one of the many attractions at the farm. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

“Everybody does a good job,” said Cramer, who has lived on the property for 69 years. 


Stoney Ridge Farm

Stoney Ridge has no shortage of orange orbs this time of year. The popular patch at 2092 Van Dyk Road in Everson is opening at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, and from then on, will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays through the end of the month. 

Similar to Bellewood Farms, Stoney Ridge offers U-pick apples and pumpkins, a corn maze, wagon ride, bin maze for kids, as well as fresh cider and miniature doughnuts. On Saturdays in October, visitors can also find two food trucks serving pizza and barbecue. 

photo  From left, Maddy Vandervliet, RaeLynn DeBruin and Allie DeBruin climb around the pumpkin patch at Stoney Ridge Farm on Oct. 7, 2022. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

On Oct. 7 and Oct. 14, the farm will host live music from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with Queens Bluegrass on the first Saturday and Prozac Mountain Boys on the following.

WECU Program Manager Keith Mader said the credit union is sponsoring the farm’s fall festival this year, meaning WECU members get free admission if they show their card. 


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