The Feltes Family of Sonny Acres WEST CHICAGO–Sonny Acres farm in West Chicago has been in Tom Feltes’s family since his great grandparents settled on the property in 1883. Tom’s mom eventually gifted the farm to her nine children, but the business name was officially changed to Sonny Acres when her seventh son was born into the family. The farm is now operated and managed by Tom (son #6) and his wife, Ellyn Feltes and Tom’s brother, Jim Feltes. All of them, including Tom and Ellyn’s three adult children and two oldest grandchildren, look forward to the fall season and working at their Fall Festival. “It’s our busiest time of the year,” says Ellyn, “and we get excited when the season comes around. We start preparing early in the year ordering merchandise and planning activities.”
Besides the piles of pumpkins and specialty squashes and gourds, visitors will find a variety of Halloween displays and attractions including, hayrides, pony rides, camel rides, a Haunted Barn, a Spooky Shed, amusement rides, a costume shop and a farm market. A unique attraction that they love putting together for their guests is the Haunted Wagon Ride on the weekends that takes you through five acres of woods with live characters to give a thrill.
“I love having people tell me that they came to Sonny Acres as a child and are now bringing their children to experience the fun,” says Ellyn. “It’s fun for their family and for mine.”
Adison Glick of Naper Settlement
NAPERVILLE–This is Adison Glick’s fourth season as Special Events Coordinator for Naper Settlement. Coming from a family that joyously celebrates the coming of fall and Halloween, Adison brings a certain excitement to organizing and producing Naper Settlement’s long-standing fall events, Oktoberfest and All Hallow’s Eve. Every year his mother transforms her entire house into a bouquet of red, orange and brown fall decorations. He seems to have inherited her passion as he decorates on a larger scale to create a creepy, spooky haunted wonderland during All Hallow’s Eve.
“My favorite part of fall are the campfires,” says Adison. “My family loves to sit around a fire while we cook, pick instruments, sing songs and laugh.” To incorporate that atmosphere at All Hallow’s Eve, a giant campfire sits in the center of the numerous haunted houses and displays. An array of delicious fall foods are available for attendees to enjoy by the fire while watching stage entertainment.
As a musician, Adison looks forward to the Oompa and Polka music at the earlier Oktoberfest to bolster his festive spirit. “Since I started working at Naper Settlement,” says Adison, “my entire family comes in from Indiana every year to celebrate with me at Oktoberfest. They all love the German food and drinks!”
The Keller Family of Keller’s Farmstand
OSWEGO–Frank Keller’s favorite fall family tradition would undoubtedly be readying their family farm and orchard for the public harvest festivities. Keller’s Farmstand and Orchard out of Oswego is an all-family affair. Frank and his wife, Teresia, and their three children, Elin (19), Greta (16) and Frank (Gus) (13), all work together to be ready for opening day. Frank’s siblings are also integral to the farm’s success with his sister, Martha, managing their Fall Event, his brother, Marty, running the bakery with Teresia (where apple cider donuts are made), and his sister, Laura, working with their social media.
Keller’s Farmstand has changed locations a few times, but has been in the area since 1852 and growing pumpkins since the early 1900’s. The popular family destination offers apple picking from over 2,000 trees of 15 varieties, pumpkin picking, fun activities for kids, and a ten- acre corn maze.
After living 40 years in Naperville before moving the farm to Oswego, Frank finds the quiet in the country relaxing. “We begin working on the Fall season as early as June when we start planting pumpkins and cutting our corn maze,” says Frank. “It’s a crazy pace, but we love working together, and I’m very proud of all the work my kids have done.”