Scene & Heard

Shady Oaks unrolls orange carpet of fall fun

Shady Oaks is in the autumn spirit, providing fall fun through events, farm tours and hayrides,with plenty of pumpkins to choose from. ALIYA HALL/THE CHRONICLE

The Chronicle

COTTAGE GROVE – Although fall symbolizes the end of Shady Oaks’ season, the farm goes out with a bang, providing a wide variety of fall activities before it closes its doors at the end of October until Spring.
”Fall is definitely my favorite time of year, but it’s also bittersweet,” Cindie Lentz, owner of Shady Oaks, said. ”I look forward to putting out pumpkins and people coming out.”
The activities start at the beginning of October and will go through the end of the month. The farm is bringing back its traditional favorites, along with adding something new – an adult movie night.
”One of the things we pride ourselves on the most is family,” Lentz said: ”Farm, family, fun.”
Shady Oaks’ classic pumpkin patch pancakes will start Saturday mornings from 9 to 11 a.m., and Lentz said ”it’s a fun time to bring the family out, young or old.” These morning pancake breakfasts will complement the lunches Shady Oaks serves on Fridays and Saturdays.
The second weekend in October, ”haunted hayrides” will start. Lentz said that they keep the rides simple for children and are careful not to have anything too scary, although there is a section of the ride that is more scary for older kids who want that experience.
Along with two showings of ”Hocus Pocus” on Oct. 11 and 12, Shady Oaks will also be offering, for the first time, an adult movie night featuring a horror film on Oct. 26.
Beyond its fall activities, Shady Oaks will continue to provide farm tours to schools. Lentz said that oftentimes the children will come back to visit again the following spring and ask where the pumpkins are, because that’s what they remember most of the tour.
”Having school tours is a lot of fun; it’s a happy place for them,” she said. ”We do it on every level. We like to do ‘special needs’ tours. Our entire family does foster care and we have a lot of special needs kids, so when schools call we try not to double-book.”
She noted that one of the reasons schools like Shady Oaks is that the larger farms usually have multiple schools visiting at one time, but at Shady Oaks, they will be the only school there.
The biggest challenge of the fall season is weather. Lentz said that sales drop when the rain or cooler nights arrive.
”If it’s a really rainy October it poses a problem for people,” she said. ”They get more moody when they’re out there looking for a pumpkin in the rain.”
Other challenges come from being a small business in general, but Lentz said that she loves working for herself, and if she didn’t, she’d get a job working for someone else.
”I’m a people-pleaser and I love serving people,” she said, adding that along with providing produce and market goods, Shady Oaks also serves as a location for weddings, class reunions and celebrations of life. ”It’s rewarding to serve families,” she said. ”Not everyone gets to get up every day and love what they do.”
Although they didn’t set out to be a bakery or event destination, Lentz said they needed to adapt during the most recent recession and a friend advised her to do what she does best: cook. Lentz said she has never needed to advertise her baking and catering; word has traveled by mouth.
Despite the challenges of operating a small business that is somewhat subject to seasonal changes, Lentz said she loves being able to bring something ”intricate and niche” to the community.
”Another reason I stay open here is because we have become an important part of our community and we try to give back,” she said. ”I want to be the person who does that. Giving back is the most important thing to me. Life isn’t worth living if you’re not giving back.”



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