ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WPTA21) - In just eight seasons, a visit to the Kuehnert Dairy Farm has become a tradition for many in 21Country.
With a desire to become more connected to the community, the Kuehnert family began their annual fall festival.
Entering their 9th year, close to 30,000 people will visit for the several weeks they open their home to the public.
“It’s an all-year process, preparing for the festival,” Andrew Kuehnert told us. “Mine years ago -- the first year we did it -- we had no idea how it was going to come out and the community supported us. And it’s been going ever since.”
With plenty activities for the kids, a tour of a modern dairy farm with robotic milking, and a massive corn maze, it’s easy to see why people are drawn to the farm regularly.
Each season, the festival is decorated by a theme.
“Every year the corn maze, we gear it around drinking milk, or something to do with milk,” Kuehnert said. “We did toy story one year, superheroes one year, we did Star Wars one year. Last year, we did a 'thank you' to all the people servicing through COVID.”
But this year will be different for the family, adjusting the loss of the Kuehnert patriarch Alan.
He died in a farming accident in April.
“Working on a dairy farm, you live everyday like it could be your last, because so many things could go wrong so quickly,” Andrew, Alan’s son explained. “He was what taught me and my brother what hard work was. My dad was the hardest working guy I’ve ever known.”
“When the accident happened, we had to be up the next morning at 4 o’clock doing chores, and we’ve had to be doing chores ever since,” Kuehnert continued.
One of Al’s proudest moments, was when his son, and homestead, was featured on the national stage.
“In 2019, I was chosen as the milk man for the Indy 500,” Kuehnert said. “For us being dairy farmers, and us being able to showcase milk in that spotlight… being able to be the one to hand that milk to the winning driver, that made my dad so proud.”
Al described that day to others as “the opportunity of a lifetime.”
His obituary described him as a man who “knew no strangers”.
Because of his love of talking with others, the Andrew says his father would talk about the Kuehnert Dairy Farm Fall Festival all year.
After finishing the day’s work, Al would spend hours talking with festival visitors.
Many of them would pay their respects at his funeral all those years later.
“When we started this fall festival, my dad couldn’t believe people wanted to come out and see something he built,” Kuehnert shared “He spent his entire life trying to make this farm what it is.”
Family owned and operated for six generations, Andrew, and his family will carry the Kuehnert farm into the future.
“We all work together as a family. That was my dad’s dream,” he told us, “all of us working together and being around each other, and I think we’re making him proud by us doing that.”
The theme of the 2021 Kuehnert Dairy Fall Festival is “The Legacy Lives On” in Al’s memory.
Etched in the corn fields he spent his life taking care of, is a message from the Kuehnert’s, they say, to the patriarch watching over the farm from above: “Hi Dad. We All Love You.”
“We wanted a theme that would cherish and honor my dad in some way, and put something in a corn field that he could see and be proud of,” Kuehnert said. “And I think we did that with this year’s theme. He’s always watching over us, he’s always there for us. We know he’s with us everyday, and being able to put that in a corn maze is just amazing.”
The 9th Annual Kuehnert Dairy Fall Festival opens to the public Friday, September 17, and run for seven weeks.
Attractions include the six-acre corn maze, straw mountain, corn pit play area, pedal kart, a jump pad, hayride farm tours, food and drinks, and plenty of outdoor activities.
Admission is $10 per person, although children two and under are free.
Hours of operation are:
- Fridays 6pm-10pm
- Saturdays 10am-10pm
- Sundays Noon-5pm
Andrew hopes if anybody takes anything from their visit to the Kuehnert farm this year, it’s this: “Live every day like it could be your last. Cherish those memories, make new memories, do as many fun things, love everybody and enjoy being with your family.”