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Fall is a festival at Fox Ridge

Attendees at the annual Fall Festival at Fox Ridge Winery in rural Traer load up the outdoor sling shot for a try at the pumpkin launching contest. Darvin Graham/North Tama Telegraph

The sights, sounds and smells of autumn were on full display last Sunday at Fox Ridge Winery’s annual Fall Festival.

Owners Mike and Gwen Seda reported a record turnout for the event that has been a marker for the beginning of the fall season in Tama County over the past five years.

As semitrucks and combines worked the fields nearby, visitors from all over the region made their way to the winery 10 miles northwest of Traer.

“I thought it went really well,” Gwen Seda said. “We had a really nice crowd and it was pretty much busy all the way through. We were real happy with the crowd.”

The family friendly event featured outdoor activities including a hayrack ride, pumpkin launching, face painting, pumpkin tic-tac-toe, and outdoor food sales.

Magician Eric Michaels entertained the crowd with several audience participation tricks. As the sun went down the stage lights came on and the sounds of Cedar Falls rock ‘n’ roll band Milk and Honey echoed through the vineyard.

“It’s something for people to do,” Seda said. “This year especially, everything’s been canceled. It’s just a nice atmosphere. It’s quiet and you don’t have a lot of traffic going by. It’s a pretty venue and it’s usually nice outside. We get new people all the time, it’s amazing. The calls we get during the week of people wanting to know how our venue works and what the prices are.”

Despite 2020 being as unique and challenging of a year as one could imagine, the summer season has progressed about as well as possible for the folks at Fox Ridge Winery.

When the pandemic struck, the winery made efforts to offer customers to-go products including frozen wine slushie buckets. The state loosened COVID-19 guidelines for food and beverage establishments in late May, just in time to allow Fox Ridge to move forward with their annual summer concert series.

“Due to COVID people haven’t been traveling,” Seda said. “So our walk-in traffic on the weekends has been slow compared to what it used to be. Other than that, our events have been really good this year.”

The winery was forced to cancel just a couple of their outdoor events due to weather this year. The derecho storm offered some tree damage and moderate impacts to the vineyard structures they family will look to repair this fall.

As the outdoor season winds down for the year the Sedas expressed gratitude toward their kids for helping set up and operate the Fall Festival. They also have been thankful to the local community for attending events this season and supporting their business.

You can keep track of all the future happenings at Fox Ridge Winery on their Facebook page.