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Friday, November 11, 2011

Have an egg-citing time at Kackleberry Farms

Louisville, Ga., may not be a Mecca for tourism, but agri-tainment complex Kackleberry Farms more than justifies the 40-minute drive from Augusta out into the country. This is the last weekend that the farm will be open, so try to make it out there with the whole family!

Kackleberry Farms opened in 2007 to combine education and agriculture with a corn maze and other seasonal attractions. But the owners, Mitch and Lisa Vaughn, have added something new every year, and now have almost 60 activities.

Pumpkin painting
Little kids: The Kiddie Korral is a play yard with sand pile, see-saw, playfort, slides and a swing; the Korny Box is a sandbox made of corn (not great for building korn kastles, but feels kool); the Kow Train is cow-painted cars pulled by a tractor; the Hay Jump is a six-foot-high stack of hay bales with a pile of straw underneath.

All aboard the cow train!
For everyone: The Korn Kannon allows visitors to shoot corn cobs (korn kobs?) at targets with an air cannon; Steer Roping allows patrons to try their hand at roping a cow's head replica; the Duck Race lets you race rubber duckies propelled by an old-fashioned water pump; the Jumping Pillow is a huge inflatable almost 50 yards long; the Kackleberry Speedway has pedal cars for all sizes; ax throwing demonstrations (which I'm no longer allowed to do... my bad) have some kind of purpose, I'm sure, and the corn maze offers an orienteering exercise that can challenge even the best - but Emmie led me in and out in 10 minutes! She's a freak of nature, seriously.

Thirteen-year-old Jackson rocked the ax-throwing.
Our favorites

We spent most of our time racing each other in the giant Rooster Rollers and rolling each around in giant PVC pipes. We also loved feeding and petting the farm animals (donkeys, horses, goats, sheep, cows, chickens and a pig that repeatedly tried to bite us), and watching the two smaller kids ride the zip-line swing called the Wiggle Worm.

The Wiggle Worm zip line swing.

Emmie did not want to leave the Rooster Rollers.

But there are so many other activities that it's ridiculous: Checkers and tic-tac-toe sets, pumpkin painting, face painting, pony rides, a pumpkin patch, a flower patch, "bull-riding," snacky snacks (oh, good gravy, the funnel cakes...), tire climbing, giant rocking chairs and piggy banks for photo opportunities, laser tag and gem mining.

Make your own photo opp.
Jackson and Allison in a riveting game of checkers.

Anna Grace looking gorgeous on a giant pink pig.
We spent 5-6 hours out there and couldn't possibly do everything there was to do. All for the price of a prime-time movie ticket - and less than the price of a 3D movie ticket.

You want to hear the part that made me very happy? They had real bathrooms. Such a small thing, but port-a-potties make me crazy. Can't stand them (hear that Nantahala Outdoor Center? One toilet at the put-in spot is all we ask).

Also, apart from some music piped in, there's not a single digital device in use out there. No cell phone reception, no iPads, no televisions. It's a whole world of analog activities. I don't even remember how that used to be. No one complained. No one missed the ever-present drone and vibration. And nothing I see on "The Daily Show" has ever made me laugh as hard as trying to compete in a giant hamster-wheel run with five other people.

If you go:

Bring: a camera, coats, gloves (not mittens) and shoes/boots you don't mind getting dirty; $4 for pony rides, $1 for face painting, and more for funnel cakes and other yumminess.

Leave: cell phones, ipods, game systems, bystander-itis.


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