4th of July at Lane Southern Orchards

If your farm is in operation on the 4th of July, then you know that it is tough to pull away. Twenty-five years ago, the Lane family at Lane Southern Orchard in Fort Valley started grilling for their workers and invited locals out to spend the day on the farm. Fast-foward to 2017 and they now host 5,000+ on the farm for the Fourth.  Read the Q & A below to learn more from Wendy Barton of Lane Southern Orchard.

A) What activities took place at Lane on the 4th? Our event is always held on July 4th from 11am-5pm.  We have a limited menu for the day of grilled Ribs, Turkey Legs, Hamburgers and Hotdogs and have sides to go with it…baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad, chips, and, of course peach ice cream and peach cobbler.  We do not have our full, regular menu to speed up the order process.  We turn our salad bar into a condiment bar with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, relish, etc. for dressing dogs and burgers.  We partnered with a bouncy house company that brought out 5 bouncy houses and 2 waterslides, and a tent and tables for the parents to get a break from the sun.  We charge $12 for unlimited access all day to the play area, and we keep 20% of armband sales.  They get the exposure from all the parents that come, and they hand out information on what they could provide at birthday parties, etc.  We have a face painter that comes out and charges $5 for glitter tattoos or $7 for a full face paint.  We do not receive any money for this.  Kids love face painting, so it’s just another activity that adds to the day.  We also had a shaved ice vendor that came, because it was sooooo hot.  We normally charge $100 for vendors, but I didn’t charge him this time.  We rent a stage and have live entertainment from  a local band. We pay the band to play.  We rent a tent for tables and chairs and have the tent company bring red, white and blue table cloths.  Our local fire fighters come out and direct traffic, help with parking and also put up a HUGE American flag on their big fire truck with the extending ladder.  We donate money to their Explorer program in exchange to come to our events.  We borrow the flag from a local company, Blue Bird, in exchange for 2 boxes of peaches.  We rent 2 porta potties and a hand washing station to have outside right next to the activities.

B) Any tips for starting a holiday activity on the farm?  Set up an event on Facebook and include all the information on the event.  We don’t typically have vendors at our July 4th event, but having arts & crafts vendors adds to the event and will add no cost to you.  Charge them to participate. Partner with any local businesses, first responders, Sheriff Offices,  and others and invite them to come out for the day.  We pay a Sheriff to be here, just in case we need them.  It is also comforting to others with such a big crowd to see a Sheriff's car as soon as they pull in and to have him walking around.  Our local police department has a dui test course, fire safety house, and little cars the kids can drive around in.  They have to do public relations events and they don’t charge anything to come.  This year I had a Grandmother reach  out to me and ask if her 7 year old granddaughter could sing the National Anthem.  Of course I let her come.  Use your best judgement on requests, but let whoever wants to come, come.  It adds to your event and usually doesn’t cost you anything.  We have also had pet adoptions. Events can be stressful, so plan well in advance so you will be ready for the day. I will be glad to answer any questions or help anyone that wants to start an event.