The COVID-19 health crisis has calmed down enough to let New Jersey farms do what they do best in the several weeks leading up to Halloween.

Outdoor fall festivals and pumpkin picking are happening this year, albeit a little differently compared to past years.

"You still have to have your face masks, social distancing. We have the wash stations and all the necessary precautions," said Carmine Poliseno, manager of Maple Leaf Farms in Manalapan.

The property's Fall Fun Fest kicks off Saturday and runs weekends plus Columbus Day through October 25. For a fee, guests will have access to a hayride, corn maze, live pig racing and bull-riding, and several other attractions.

Six miles away, Happy Day Farm reopened its doors to the public on September 12 for its Fall Harvest Festival. In order to limit capacity, guests are required to purchase their tickets in advance.

Saturday was also the launching date for "Fall Fest 2020" at A. Casola Farms in Holmdel, according to its Facebook page. Due to the virus threat, the farm scratched face painting and nighttime hayrides this year.

Ed Wengryn, research associate for the New Jersey Farm Bureau, said while most farms in the state may be nixing a feature here and there, there's still plenty of opportunity for fall fun.

"It's just going to happen in a slightly different format," he said.

Wengryn said many farms, just like Happy Day, have switched to an online reservation system in order to better handle crowd sizes and avoid lines.

"People should really look at the websites, and not just drive out there," Wengryn said.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at

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