For 25 years, people of all ages have taken a leisurely October ride through the McHenry County countryside to enjoy Autumn Drive, a fall festival featuring the flavors and colors of the fall, plus great food and fun.
Autumn Drive Celebrates 25 Years
Will you be one of the more than 15,000 visitors to enjoy Autumn Drive this year? Whether this is your first or 25th time making the trek out to the country for this unique fall festival, the organizers invite you to see what all the hype is about from October 19-21 on Garden Valley Road between Woodstock and Marengo.
Autumn Drive, organized annually by neighbors Robert Blue (Blue Eagle Pottery), Joe and Lois Grasser (Grasser Antiques) and Ann Chaney (Grace Farm Studios), is a true family event that offers something for everyone from fall festival attractions to great sales of seasonal, new, antique and one-of-a-kind products. Oh, and what wonderful tastes of autumn you will find from seasonal produce to homemade chocolate and from fresh-made kettle corn to a meal at the Lunch Barn.
New stops this year include Antiques by the Partlo’s, plus two clusters of garage sales: Trash to Treasures on Millstream Road and Garage Sale Heaven on Hobe Road.
“The garage sales bring Autumn Drive full circle since the event’s founders were inspired to organize Autumn Drive after visiting massive neighborhood garage sales held in Algonquin more than 25 years ago,” Blue said.
New and regular stops (outlined in the “Stops” sidebar) are anchored by Cody’s Farm Fresh Vegetables, Grace Farm Studios and All Seasons Apple Orchard.
“You can pick your own pumpkins, enjoy a hayride, go-kart ride or barrel ride, warm up next to the fire pit and roast marshmallows, stroll through the corn maze or just sit back and enjoy some music,” Blue added. “Look at beautiful artwork, find wonderful things to purchase for your homes, have lunch, listen to music and just have a very enjoyable day out in the country. It’s so eclectic. Each stop along the way offers a unique country experience.”
Blue and his fellow organizers — plus all the participants along the way — chalk up 25 years of Autumn Drive to a family-like bond among neighbors. “Autumn Drive has brought this three-mile stretch of road into more of a neighborhood,” Blue said.
“After all of these years, we still like each other,” he added, laughing. “It’s like having a surrogate family.”
A bigger family, the community at large, has also been a huge supporter of Autumn Drive and the residents, farmers and artists along the path. McHenry County Convention and Visitors Bureau, local chambers of commerce, charities, downtown Woodstock businesses and media outlets have all been big cheerleaders for Autumn Drive.
“This support gives all of us the satisfaction knowing not only can we enjoy the weekend, but make a dollar and give back to community as much as we can in our own way,” Blue said. “Meeting all the great people of McHenry County has been very enjoyable to us.”
Charitable organizations that partner with the various stops include food pantries of Marengo and Woodstock, McHenry County Historical Society, Woodstock High School Cheering Squad, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Faith in Action of McHenry County, and various church groups and animal shelters.
>> Visit www.autumndrive.net for more. Also, be sure to keep a look out for our Holiday issue (December-January) featuring Autumn Drive organizer and pottery artist Robert Blue
as our “People” story!
Stops Along Autumn Drive
Be sure to make all the stops along this year’s Autumn Drive route — and remember to pick up an entry drawing for a door prize and have
it initialed at each stop to be eligible to win one of several gift certificates that have been donated by the participating landowners.
1. Cody’s Farm Fresh Vegetables: Homegrown vegetables/pumpkins,
fall decorations, food, barrel rides, corn box, corn maze, pumpkin launcher, children’s tractor track, antique tractors, music and crafters.
2. Antiques by the Partlo’s: Antiques, original art, picture frames, old bicycles, collectibles, jewelry, ladies pocket watches, kitchenware, set of wood shaft golf clubs, unique items, buttons, sewing machines, old irons, working ’50s floor stand hair dryer, records … you get the picture!
3. Trash to Treasures: Five families offering garage sale items and treasures in a subdivision at the end of Millstream Road.
4. RB’s Concessions: Great food and inside dining available, plus crafts, sweatshirts and novelties.
5. The Rivers Edge Farm: In-season farm products, and photographic scenes of cities, flowers and animals.
6. Lisk Family & Friends: Nicely priced pumpkins, squash, Indian corn and straw for sale, plus handcrafted items and Philip Lauf’s locally produced honey.
6a. Lunch Barn: Enjoy lunch and help out the McHenry County community — all proceeds are donated to Faith in Action of McHenry County (assisting seniors to stay in their own homes) and the Marengo and Woodstock food pantries.
7. Karen Schneider/Ceramic Bug Supplies: Sweet Shop Gourmet (caramel apples and Italian ice); Cyndee’s Country Treasures (candles and holiday decorations); Rhinestone (crystal jewelry, bread, soup and dip mixes); S&C (original gems); as well as toys, books, art, knitting, slumped wine bottles and Christmas decorations.
8. Grasser Antiques: Antique furniture, trunks, white elephant sales, linens, vintage and costume jewelry and books, plus Lois’ Kitchen Corner.
9. A Bit of Everything: Handmade candles and soaps, one-of-a-kind handmade jewelry, Tastefully Simple, Sue Bitler Photography, floral items, a food cart and Riverside Chocolate Factory.
9a. Countryside Flower Shop, Nursery & Garden Center: Special flower sale from this Crystal Lake nursery featuring the colors of fall.
10. Blue Eagle Pottery: Handmade, functional and home decorative pottery (porcelain and stoneware), glass jewelry, holiday decorations; crafters outside including metal, wood, jewelry and clothing; Helping Paws Animal Shelter (Woodstock); and McHenry County Living magazine.
11. McHenry County Historical Society: Visit the 1885 original Seneca Township Hall, now called Perkins Hall. Walk back in time for handmade articles, unique local historical books, historical and picturesque note cards, used books, quilt raffle and freshly popped Wisconsin kettle corn.
12. Grace Farm: Local organically grown asparagus, raspberries and Icelandic wool, quilts/quilt supplies, weaving/weaving supplies, baskets, furniture and woodwork.
13. Garage Sale Heaven on Hobe Road: Several families are hosting garage sales along Hobe Road.
14. All Seasons Apple Orchard: Apples, caramel apples and cider,
as well as pumpkins, local honey and more.
Family Fun on the Farms
· All Seasons Apple Orchard (14510 Route 176 in Woodstock, 815-338-5637,
www.allseasonsorchard.com) welcomes visitors to pick their own apples and pumpkins, travel the corn maze, visit the petting zoo and enjoy a hayride, the country farm market and a meal from the indoor grill.
· Cody’s Farm Market & Pumpkin Festival (19502 River Rd. in Marengo,
815- 568-7976, www.codysfarm.com) offers high-quality, fresh, homegrown fruit and vegetables, plus pick-your-own pumpkins.
· Red Barn Farm Market Pumpkin Festival (3500 S. Rt. 47 in Woodstock,
815-338-4343, www.redbarn.us) is family fun, with corn mazes, a spooky house for children, farm animals, Mom’s Kitchen, whimsical pumpkin figures, squash, gourds, potatoes, popcorn and pumpkins galore.
· Richardson Adventure Farm (9407 Richardson Rd. in Spring Grove, 815-675-9729, www.richardsonfarm.com) features an incredible maze, zip line ride, pumpkins,
kid’s play area, wagon rides, ORBiting and home-brewed beer.
· Royal Oak Farm Market Pumpkinfest (15908 Hebron Rd. in Harvard,
815-648-4141, www.royaloakfarmorchard.com) offers giant pumpkins, ornamental pumpkins and gourds, hayrides, the Royal Oak Express, petting zoo, carousel, playhouses, the Country Kitchen, apple barn, bakery and more (closed on Sundays).
· Shades of Autumn at Stade’s Farm and Market (3709 W. Miller Rd. in McHenry, 815-675-6396, www.stadesfarmandmarket.com) includes a fun house, corn maze, barrel train, combine rides, hayrides to the pumpkin field, cattle trailer maze,
petting zoo, pumpkin cannon and free live entertainment.
· Tom’s Farm Market and Greenhouse Fall Festival of Fun (10214 Algonquin Rd. in Huntley, 847-669-3421, www.tomsfarmmarket.com) has pumpkins, pony rides, face painting, farm animals, a corn maze, homemade fudge,
baked goods and Tom’s Country Café.
· Von Bergen’s Country Market Fall Fest (9805 Rt. 173 in Hebron, 815-648-2332, www.vonbergens.com) has pumpkins, farm animals, squash, gourds, Indian corn, mums, a corn maze, children’s maze, pumpkin barrel ride, craft corner, seasonal vegetables, jams, honey and more.