Fall brings families seeking apples, pumpkins and fun to Tanners Orchard near Speer.

“On festival days (weekends and holidays), kids are running around. It’s a blast,” said Craig Tanner, who owns and manages the orchard with his sister, Jennifer. A Marshall-Putnam Farm Bureau member, Tanner and his sister are the fourth generation to oversee the diverse family farm.

Since 1906, the Tanner family has grown and sold apples in western Illinois. The family moved to an 80-acre established orchard near Speer in 1947 and continues to expand and diversify the family farm.

Today, the orchard grows 17 apple varieties on 16,000 trees across 35 acres. The family also raises four varieties of pumpkins on 10 acres, operates a 5-acre corn maze and offers a 3-acre play area dubbed the Back 40.

An on-farm market and bakery offer customers daily lunches along with homemade apple cider donuts, baked pies, fudge and other treats.

Customers may shop online for a variety of fresh and value-added products at tanners-orchard.square.site/s/shop. During weekdays, advance online orders will be delivered to cars, while on weekends orders may be picked up at a tent near the orchard’s information booth.

For the latest updates, visit tannersorchard.com or follow the orchard Instagram or Facebook at tannersappleorchard.

Tanners u-pick apple orchard is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October. Later picking depends on the availability of apples. Craig expected the u-pick pumpkin field to open in late September.

The market and bakery are open daily 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in September and October and then Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in November when they close at the end of the month.

While specialty crops are the heart of Tanners Orchard, the family farm is well known for diverse agritourism and agri-tainment. Those value-added features started in the late ‘80s with a bakery that made caramel apples and donuts to draw more visitors, according to Craig.

Later, his parents and uncle gained new ideas after participating in a farm direct marketing tour. “Everything just snowballed,” he said of the many additions. The extras include miniature golf and tether ball, slides, swings, barrel train rides, pony rides, pedal cars and more.

With so much available, families find a variety of admission options that take into account return visits and number of activities.

On weekends and holidays, u-pick admission is $5 per person for ages 3 and older. Picked apples cost $12 per half peck or $20 per peck. Pumpkins cost $7 each or $20 for three. Wagons transport visitors to the orchard or the pumpkin field

Corn maze admission costs $8 per person. Admission to the Back 40 play area costs $3 for ages 3 to 15 on weekdays and $10 for ages 3 to 54 on weekends and holidays.

Families can buy an all-farm admission to all attractions, u-pick areas and the corn maze on weekends and holidays for $20 per person for ages 3 to 54 and $12 each for those 55 and older.

If families plan to visit the farm a couple of times, Craig suggested they consider a season pass for $45 per person. A season pass includes unlimited admission to all the attractions through October.

Editor’s note: Cultivating Our Communities is a collaboration by Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association to raise awareness of Illinois’ diverse farm products.