By Frances Clause
The smell of pumpkin cinnamon doughnuts, apple cider and homemade coffee marked the beginning of White House Fruit Farm’s Fall Festival Weekends on Saturday.
Customers visited with their families to enjoy the gift barn, live local music, food vendors, pony rides and many more activities that have become part of the farm’s identity.
The family behind the success has been bringing happiness to the Valley since the late 18th century: the Hull family.
Scott Hull said the family views the fall harvest as a time to celebrate over 200 years of their agricultural tradition in the Youngstown area.
“My best memories are from bringing in the new apple crop and then making the fresh apple cider that pairs so perfectly with our blueberry doughnuts,” he said, recalling memories of fall preparations on the farm. “When the leaves turn, the apple trees fill and the smell of fresh corn permeates the air, we really look forward to putting on a show.”
But fall at the farm had to start somewhere, and Hull said the festival weekends’ humble beginnings started with a small barn that was cleaned out to sell apples and cider.
“Decades later, we welcome tens of thousands of visitors to our farm every fall weekend in one of the largest agritourism events in the United States,” he said.
Kim Sisco, who is a third-generation family member, grew up on the farm and said the process of preparing for fall is almost year-round.
“We open the [gift barn] building the weekend after Labor Day. We’re open through the end of October, concentrating on fall and giftware, and then the whole building flips over to Christmas,” she said.
“Everything we do is right here,” Sisco added. “We do have some other businesses that come in and join us. Our food vendors are independent.”
A popular stop for families visiting the farm is the Cozé Coffee Bar, which is open on weekends throughout the year. Artisan sodas, milkshakes and teas are also on the menu.
Emily Smith, the cafe’s manager, said autumn is her favorite season to make specialty drinks for customers, which are all the product of successful experimentation.
“We roast [the coffee] ourselves, and we make all of our own flavors,” she said. “So, all of our coffees are unique to us.”
The fall season calls for Cozé’s flavors of toasted marshmallow, pumpkin spice and brown sugar cinnamon.
“We do a drink called the Bonfire,” Smith said. “It’s toasted marshmallow, mocha, salted caramel, cinnamon — it’s divine. We do it frozen, so it’s that perfect fall flavor.”
From Cozé Coffee Bar to all the homegrown fruits and vegetables, Hull believes there is something for everyone at the fall weekends, including Youngstown State University students who want a perfect fall experience.
“Bring your friends, take some of our famous blueberry doughnuts and cider out by our lake, listen to our featured local musicians, take a wagon wide through our fall foliage, grab pumpkins to carve and take some pictures at our sunflower fields,” he said.
In his experience, the best remedy for semester stress is to find a happy place, and he said their farm is that place for so many YSU students.
The Fall Festival Weekends are Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will continue throughout October.