"Family" is definitely the theme of Cedarburg Creek Farms in Ozaukee County where thousands of children have an opportunity to experience some rural activities including petting animals, touring a corn maize or a hay-bale maize, and running out into the field to pick their own pumpkins.
The farm is truly a family effort with Bob and Dawn Hartwig, with son-in-law Shawn and daughter Jessica Maney, working together to provide seasonal entertainment.
Cedarburg Creek Farm is a business run by family, and the Hartwigs hope to spread as much joy as they get from working out in nature with their family.
"We take pride in our 'barnyard,' and all the animals are part of our family," says Bob.
He adds, "If you come out to the farm, don't be surprised if you find one or seven of our children helping out on the farm or behind the beautiful autumn scenery. Even Shawn and Jessie's two sons, who aren't old enough to spell pumpkin can tell you how to harvest one or guide you through the 'Swamper Stomper' obstacle course."
Each year we think of new ideas to improve the farm.
The idea of this type of farm started years ago working for Henry and Joan Retzlaff who operated Retzlaff Pumpkin Farm nearby.
Bob helped with hayrides, the petting zoo, harvesting and other numerous farm chores that needed to be done on an operating pumpkin farm. Dawn enjoyed working as a tour guide for school tours and helped in the pumpkin store as well.
Shawn also had his hand in helping around the farm, including the petting zoo, where he was able to provide the cow and two young fall calves.
Jessica readily offered her horses as guests in the petting zoo, and found time to serve as an alternate tour guide for the school tours, and looked after the petting zoo as well.
After the untimely passing of Henry in 2008, his wife Joan with the help of family and friends, ran the farm for two successful years, and then decided to sell.
Joan knew the two couples enjoyed and showed interest in the pumpkin farm but they both had farms, so buying another one was out of the question.
In the mean-time, Bob, Dawn, Shawn and Jessie put their heads together, bought the inflatable bouncers and hayride wagons from Joan and started working with the festivals in Cedarburg.
That was the start of Country Aire Rides, a service they provide year-around in the nearby city of Cedarburg.
After growing success at the festivals, the couples decided to grow their small business and purchase more of the Retzlaff's equipment, signs, and other items and to establish a new farm on Bob and Dawn's land located on Hwy. 60.
The Hartwigs did some research and found out that the creek that runs through the farm is called Cedarburg Creek, and thought Cedarburg Creek Farm would be a quaint name for the estate.
So the name Cedarburg Creek Farm stuck, and both couples with farming backgrounds of their own set out to share a taste of the farm life with other families just as others did before them.
Their daughter, Pam and her husband John run Pinewood Farms next to their farm. That makes it handy for the families to work together and for Pam to assist her parents during the bush fall-tour season.
A son, Matt, operates a landscape business that keeps Bob busy during other times of the year but weekends he helps serve food at the farm. Ashley helps with sales at the farm. Benjamin is in high school but helps run the hayrides on weekends.
Jody is in charge of the petting zoo. Her parents say she has named every one of the animals, including the ducks and geese. Children particularly enjoy Jennie the donkey, Elvis the alpaca and the three little pigs named Bricks, Sticks and Straw.
Another daughter, Abigail, lives in Hawaii.
During pumpkin season the farm is open every day with special entertainment featured weekends. They will complete their season this year on the last weekend of October with an antique tractor plowing demonstration Oct. 27-28, provided by the Wisconsin Antique Power Reunion.