Minutes by Rachael Evans
I’m sure you are familiar with the saying “No bad weather just bad clothing” and everyone took this on board when we visited the National Adventure Farm on Thursday 9th October. How lucky we were after torrential rain, to find the weather fine and mild.
On arrival at the Farm members enjoyed tea and coffee plus delicious homemade cake. We met in what was once a cow shed but is now a warm and hospitable meeting room overlooking the children’s indoor play area. On the ground floor of this building is the restaurant serving locally sourced snacks and meals, plus 3 rooms available for birthday parties are also located here.
Tom, a Director of the National Adventure Farm explained that his family moved to Postern House Farm in 1970 and took the decision to diversify during 2004. Starting as a basic play field and creating Maize Maize, the attraction was open for 6 weeks in the first year and welcomed 7000 visitors. Last year 150,000 people paid a visit and the Maize is now between 8 and 9ft high. Tom and his family had to quickly learn new skills including retail and catering, very different from farming.
LDTA members had the opportunity to ask Tom any questions about the venture and I can’t remember a networking meeting where people asked so many. Once satisfied with Tom’s answers, we looked forward to meeting Louise who holds the role of Marketing Manager.
Louise informed us that apart from Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, the centre is open daily 10am to 6pm. Even in dreadful weather, there are plenty of activities to do inside. School and nursery trips are available which encourages learning through fun.
Events are held throughout the year and during the summer months this year, the National Adventure Farm set out to break the world record for the largest display of scarecrows. The record had been held by the USA for 11 years with a parade of 3312 scarecrows. Every child who visited the attraction was invited to make a scarecrow. The strict criteria meant that the figure had to have a head, 2 items of clothing, be around 4ft in size and be free standing or propped up. It was a happy day when the judges announced that the record had indeed been broken, with the final figure reaching 3800, qualifying for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.
Halloween is a particularly busy time for staff, with 2 Halloween events taking place. For younger children a day time Halloween Spook-tacular is planned when fancy dress is encouraged and lots of fun activities to participate in. The extremely popular Screamfest event is aimed for brave people aged 12 years and over. Commencing on 17th October and continuing for 11 nights this is a night not for the faint hearted. Drama students from the nearby college perform in Screamfest as part of their work experience and one of the scariest things is some will be hiding with the scarecrows, so just when you think it is safe one will jump out! If you feel daring enough to take on the challenge of Screamfest online saver tickets are available at halloweenadventurefarm.co.uk
The afternoon just got better when Louise invited LDTA partners’ to take a tour of the farm and a tractor and trailer ride. Even though there had been heavy rain, good paths are accessible free of mud. The animal barn housed many endearing creatures including pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs plus many more in and outside. The animals take a starring role in the interactive Nativity scheduled for the weekends 29 November – 24 December.
The scarecrows alone are worth a visit the Adventure Farm, what a spectacular sight they made. It would have been so easy to spend time just gazing at all their different faces. However, there was no time to linger as Josh the tractor driver and Emily our guide were waiting to take us on a journey. As we rode around the farm, the idea was to spot random scarecrows dotted around, when we saw one we had to shout “Scarecrow”. How strange to see 23 adults becoming very excited while listening to songs from the Wurzels.
After our tour several members chose to have another cup of tea and others went to have a look at the pumpkins. It was the giant slides that held the attraction for some of us, as the temptation was too great and we just had to have a go. Unfortunately foul play was committed by Paul from FM & J Wait and rather than lose the race down the slides employed some dubious tactics to try and win!
For further information about the National Forest Adventure Farm visit www.adventurefarm.co.uk or telephone 01283 533933. Leaflets are available from Lichfield Tourist Information.
Thank you to everyone at the Farm for such an enjoyable afternoon and also to Angela, Paul and Brett from FM & J Wait for providing transport.
Our next LDTA networking meeting will be our informal drop-in Christmas get-together
On: Tuesday 16th December between 5pm and 7pm
At: The Guildhall, Bore Street, Lichfield WS13 6LU
LDTA Partners’ News in Brief
Roy Barratt: Claymills Pumping Station received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. www.claymills.org
Robert & Caroline Carr: Rock34 is very busy with online jewellery orders. www.rock34.co.uk
Allan Hayes: The Walled Garden at Woodhouse Farm is striving to obtain a grant to renovate an old building, making it visitor friendly. www.thewalledgardenatwoodhousefarm.co.uk
Richard Lewis: Lichfield Chamber of Trade and Commerce is working with Town Team and Lichfield District Council to drive the BID project forward.
Adam Burns-Mace: The Tudor of Lichfield. Christmas chocolate products have now arrived and are on sale in the shop. www.tudorrow.com
Angela Harvey: FM & J Wait are offering transport free of charge, to take people to the Remembrance Service, on 11th November at the National Memorial Arboretum. www.fmandjwait.co.uk
David Bathurst: Chasewater Railway Museum. Santa Special tickets are now on sale. The event sold out last year but this year the emphasis will be on quality rather than quantity. www.chasewaterrailway.org
Jane Lees: Chasewater Country Park. Improvements have been made at the Country Park but this is always a challenge as the area is a triple SSSI site. A LDTA networking meeting has been planned for March 2015. www.enjoychasewater.co.uk
Julie Dewhurst: Green Badge Guide. Ghost tour tickets are available for a wide selection of dates these can be purchased from Lichfield Tourist Information Centre, telephone 01543 256611. www.visitlichfield.co.uk
Angela Cornell & Roger Thompson: Elford Walled Garden have experienced a very busy year, the venue is open every day free of charge. The next event is on 1st November which is a Bonfire with refreshments. Tickets priced at £6 adults and £3 children, under 5’s are free. Elford Garden won the Royal Horticultural top award for the 2nd year and a special award for merit, only four of which have been issued this year. www.elfordwalledgarden.org.uk
Kerry Mayo: National Paintball Fields. There is high demand for Halloween themed events, the Zombie theme being very popular. It was the busiest August for the past few years. NPF will be offering quad biking for younger people in the New Year. www.npfbassettspole.com
Nick Misselke: Pipe Hill House. Business is very good and everyone connected with the Bed & Breakfast is extremely proud of the establishments 5 star gold award. www.pipehillhouse.co.uk
Brian Pretty: Lichfield Arts. The recent beer festival was a huge success and local bands will be playing at the Christmas light switch on taking place on Sunday 23rd November. www.lichfieldarts.org.uk
Lisa Biste: Visit Lichfield. Lisa is from Freiburg in Germany and is working with the tourism team for a few months. One of Lisa’s projects is translating the 2015 Visit Lichfield guide into German. Lisa can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org