The Carter Farm in 2006.

Our Story

Who are the Carters?

The Carter family comprises Russell (1923-2015) and Maxine Carter, their seven children (Paul, Dwight, Carla, Mark, Jonathan, Rita, and Tony), and their descendants.

How did Carters’ Farm get started?

In October 1954, Russell Carter and his new bride, Maxine, moved from southern Michigan to Park Rapids, Minnesota, to serve as rural missionaries. The following summer Russell planted tomatoes on the south slope of their garden and sold his early tomatoes from a table on the side of Highway 71 south of Park Rapids. As family grew, the farm grew. Over the years, the farm has included an award-winning Ayrshire dairy herd, hogs, chickens, ponies, sheep, and even some goats. The fields produced tomatoes, sweet corn, strawberries, pumpkins, asparagus, green beans, alfalfa, cucumbers, zucchini, raspberries, blueberries, and much more.

What’s the story behind Red Wagon Farm?

Early on, the Carter family began selling farm produce from a red wooden spoke-wheeled wagon with a canopy, and the farm became known as Carters’ Red Wagon Farm until 2021, when Red Wagon Farm became the particular project of Tony Carter under the aegis of Carters’ Farm.

Russell Carter with five of his seven kids on the farm.

What about Carters’ Red Wagon Farm Market?

Over the winter of 1993 and 1994, the Carter men built a barn for a farm market in town on East 34. This became Carters’ Red Wagon Farm Market, which was variously run by Russell, Dwight, Mark, and finally Tony and Linda Carter until Tony Carter sold it in spring 2021 and the market became The Red Barn, where some of Carters’ produce continues to be sold.

The market in 2017.

The first fall festival, Pumpkin Day, was held in October 1994 at the market, and steadily the Carters expanded the pumpkin festivities until Tony Carter moved the whole festival to the farm in 2011. Tony’s corn maze designs and wagon ride play themes over the years have ranged from Minnesota History to Vikings to Robin Hood to Davy Crockett.

Who runs the fall festival now?

From the beginning, the Carter family has worked together, with family members on the farm managing operations and other family members helping out as they are able. In the mid-1990s, the Carter family together built the timber-frame barn market on East 34, where Dwight and Tony worked together on the first pumpkin parties. Starting in the 2000s, Tony and Linda Carter operated the pumpkin parties for nearly twenty years, moving the festival to the farm and expanding the event each season. Tony’s creativity fueled the festivals each year as he crafted clever and fun new family entertainment every year.

In summer 2021, Tony and Linda sold the red barn market on East 34 to focus on new adventures off the farm. But Tony continues to enjoy working with his festival creations, such as the popular pumpkin launcher and the animatronic scarecrow band. Additionally, Tony (under the Red Wagon Farm name) continues to grow strawberries, rhubarb, and asparagus on the farm land. Carters’ Farm owner, brother Dwight, runs overall operations and nephew Steven oversees the 2021 fall festival.

Maxine Carter with great-granddaughter Chloe.

News from Carters’ Farm

Pumpkin Extravaganza: A Short History of Carters’ Fall Festival

Press: “Carters’ Farm Returns to Roots” (June 10, 2021)

Carters’ Farm in the News

Park Rapids Enterprise, October 20, 2021: “Next generation of Carters taking over farm festival

It all started with tomatoes. Pictured: Russell Carter.
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