Eckert's Country Store and Farms is a centuries-old American national treasure. First established as a farm and basic roadside stand, the house-name enterprise is now the largest family-owned-and-operated pick-your-own orchard in the U.S, operating farming, entertainment, and retail outlets in Belleville, Grafton, and Millstadt in southwestern Illinois, as well as an orchard in Versailles, Kentucky.
For over a century, Eckert's has served as a local source for a wide range of agricultural products, along with real-farm experiences such as pick-your-own strawberries, peaches, blackberries, apples, pumpkins, and Christmas trees during select growing seasons.
In recent years, however, Eckert's has evolved, providing memories extending beyond pick-your-own produce. Nowadays, visitors can enjoy new facets of the brand: the Eckert's Country Store & Garden Center, the Eckert's Country Restaurant, and an annual roster of exciting events for the whole family.
Outside of farm produce, Eckert's also temps with a variety of specialty foods, meats, wine, and cheese selections, along with cooking and wine classes for adults and special kids' activities.
Sure, Eckert's is a year-round celebration of the magic of farming, but with fall just around the corner and Halloween within sight, there's one extra-special experience that everyone's buzzing about: Eckert's pumpkin picking extravaganza - one of the very best pumpkins patch experiences in the U.S. Each year, every Eckert's farm's pumpkin patch is ready for the pickin', offering a family-friendly activity befitting for both fall and the spookiest season of them all.
Not sure which Eckert's farm to check out this September and October? No worries, this handy guide spills the pumpkin juice and provides a glimpse into each of Eckert's farms and orchards. However, first, it's time to take a closer look at Eckert's long family history.
Eckert's Farm History
The Eckert family history is a long and fruitful one - figuratively and literally. Eckert’s Orchards first took root in 1837 after Johann Peter Eckert immigrated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, all the way from Dietzenbach, Hesse Darmstadt, Germany.
He began farming in his newfound home, followed by his son Michael, who continued his father’s legacy and love for the land and settled on a farm the Eckert family calls Drum Hill - a setting located near Fayetteville, Illinois, and 35 miles southeast of St. Louis. In 1862, Michael planted fruit trees on the farm, after which his son, Henry, pursued his father's footsteps and planted fruit trees on his Turkey Hill Farm in Belleville, Illinois, in 1890.
Today, it is Henry's old farm that's now the main hub of the Eckert family business, where their Country Restaurant and Country Store operate year-round, and their largest orchard produces all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables, such as peaches, apples, blackberries, strawberries, and many more. At the present day, the sixth and seventh generations of the Eckert family manage the daily business operations of this all-American, much-loved farm with a firm place in the nation's heart.
Furthermore, the Eckert family has farms, orchards, and general stores in Millstadt and Grafton, Illinois, along with a successful orchard-come-farm in Versailles, Kentucky. The charming and rustic Grafton farm sits atop a Mississippi River bluff just outside of Alton, Illinois, while the Millstadt Fun Farm is the hive of family-friendly activities and events perfect for a day or evening full of outdoor country entertainment.
Naturally, one of their most popular experiences at all of their farms is fruit and vegetable picking, and with each season grow, new goods prime for plucking straight from the trees. Picking one's very own fruits is, of course, fun and rewarding, but it’s also a wonderful educational moment for adults and kids alike - a reminder of how and where the USA's food supply is grown and nurtured.
Although the experiences, events, and seasonal produce change throughout the year, right now, Eckert's farm pumpkin season is looming - and what better way to celebrate fall and Halloween on the horizon than pumpkin patch picking during the spooky season?
Each year, Eckert's multiple farms have plump pumpkins prime for pictures and picking, granting visitors in the fall the chance to indulge in this yearly tradition in true ghostly spirit. With several farms to choose from, here's a quick rundown of each one to help aspiring pumpkin-pickers select their desired Eckert location and get in on the fall farm fun.
Eckert's Belleville Farm, Illinois
- Eckert's Belleville Address: Eckert's Pick Your Own Belleville Farm, 951 S Green Mt Rd, Belleville, IL 62220, United States
Year-round family fun awaits at the original Eckert’s Belleville Farm. From picking one's own fruits and vegetables to sampling the delectable fresh-fresh goodies prepared on site, this farm oozes delicious goodness and indulgence for all ages.
While picking peaches, blackberries, strawberries, apples, vegetables, and sunflowers, and Christmas trees in season draws in farm-goers every month of the year, come fall, it's all about those that are big, round, and bright orange. The farm's pumpkins are ripe and ready in late September through October when pretty homegrown pumpkins are put on display to decorate the premises for fall.
Visitors can pick their own pumpkins for carving, eating, baking, or displaying, and even chow down on the farm's delicious pie pumpkins for sale. Plus, the farm's famous fried chicken is a family favorite.
The Belleville farm also has two new multi-million-dollar additions for visitors; Mr. E’s Donut & Custard Shop serves up a feast for the senses in the form of frozen custards and sundaes using the farm's fresh, seasonal produce while The Cider Shed boasts a menu of appetizers, salads, and sides along with five of its own ciders on draft.
There's also a deli for tasty bites and a Country Store for purchasing farm-fresh produce, meats, baked goods, and other Eckert's delicacies, while the Garden Center bursts with fresh blooms for every season.
Eckert's Grafton Farm, Illinois
- Eckert's Grafton Address: Eckert's Grafton Farm, 20995 Eckert Orchard Rd, Grafton, IL 62037, United States
The tranquil Grafton farmland rests on picturesque Mississippi River Bluffs, granting an idyllic, quiet getaway in the midst of peaceful rural scenery. It's here where Eckert’s Grafton Farm lies, a scenic and special place on the Illinois state map.
Peaches, apples, and blackberries are perfect for picking fresh - but it's fall when guests are invited to come to the farm and create special memories and new traditions for the last generations. Eckert's Grafton Farm offers pumpkin-picking in late September through October while featuring display pumpkins and decadent pumpkin pies in authentic Eckert fashion. What's more, the farm's Concession Stand is open on the weekends in September and October.
Eckert's Millstadt Farm, Illinois
- Eckert's Millstadt Farm Address: Eckert’s Millstadt Fun Farm, 2719 Eckert Orchard Ln, Millstadt, IL 62260, United States
Another fantastic farm experience in Illinois awaits everyone, young and old, at Eckert’s Millstadt Farm. For anyone fancying picking their own apples and pumpkins, riding down a giant underground slide, or getting involved with the numerous events taking place year-round, this is the one and only place to be - and it's all happening in September and October.
From September through October, Eckert Millstadt Farm serves up the apple fest, cute pig races, a brain-teasing corn maze, bonfires, pony and camel rides, adorable parakeet encounters, a wonderful petting farm, and, for the spooky season, haunted wagon rides along with all things pumpkins. Snap pics with the adventurous display pumpkins, tuck into taste bud-tantalizing fall treats, and get a load of the jack-o-lobber - the farm's giant pumpkin cannon!
Eckert's Versailles Orchard, Kentucky
- Eckert's Versailles Orchard Address: Eckert's Orchard, 1396 Pinckard Pike, Versailles, KY 40383, United States
Whether it's picking apples, blackberries, peaches, strawberries, veggies, and more, Eckert's in Kentucky is another farm sibling providing beautiful and entertaining outdoor fun fantastic for all ages. In season, pumpkins are all the rage, becoming perfect for picking from September through October.
Upon arriving at the establishment, visitors can enjoy a wagon ride out to the farm before getting dropped off at the apple orchard where the farm's vibrant, pumped-up pumpkin patch grows. Once those plush pumpkins have been picked, and family fall pictures are done, the bakery and concessions beckon hungry guests in need of some fresh grub. Also, the farm has a fun playground for smaller guests, while seasonal bonfires and a corn maze add an extra layer of excitement for those who visit at the right time.