Pumpkin Extravaganza: A Short History of Carters’ Fall Festival

Pumpkins for the whole family!

Carters’ Fall Festival made its start when a friend suggested that the farm host a Harvest Hootenanny at the Pumpkin Patch for her preschool students.

Later the Carters hosted the first Pumpkin Day at the newly built barn market on East 34 in October 1994. Maggie’s Diner provided popcorn, cider, and pumpkin bars, and customers could pick out pumpkins to take home. There was usually a scarecrow on hand ready to help customers carry pumpkins, and a guitar player or two to serenade all the folks around. 

Russell and Maxine Carter play for customers at the market.

Later the Amaizing Maize (Corn) Maze was added to the pumpkin parties, as were hay wagon rides, which included a short skit with scarecrows, crows, and sometimes a stray gorilla or bear. The scarecrow would bravely defend the pumpkin patch from the crow.

Scarecrows have been a crucial part of the fall festival in the past—who else is going to help you carry all those pumpkins?

In 2011 the pumpkin parties were moved onsite to the farm, and both the corn maze and other festivities were expanded under the creativity and direction of Tony and Linda Carter. Every year, Tony would create a new theme, with matching maze design and wagon ride drama shows.

This year, we’re proud to continue the traditions of family-friendly music, local food, storytelling, and entertainment. 

An early Maize Maze!

So: y’all come see us this September and October at the farm! See our home page for more info on the Fall Festival’s vendors and schedule of events.

Gideon Carter and the fall 2021 pumpkin harvest!

Grandma Kulp’s Eggs-and-Greens

This summer dish comes from Maxine Carter’s mother, Irene Kulp:

First, cook greens of your choice (try spinach, watercress, or cabbage) in bacon fat in the skillet.

Then mix some eggs, milk, and vinegar together, with salt and pepper to taste. (The amounts depend on the amount of greens and on how sour you like it.) Stir the egg mixture into the greens, and cook and stir until the eggs are set.

Add some fried bits (or strips!) of bacon if desired, and enjoy!

Recipe and photos courtesy Rita Carter Blake.

Tomato Tradition

When Russell Carter started raising tomatoes in northern Minnesota, he was carrying on a family tradition. While growing up in Michigan, he helped his father, Clinton Frederick Carter, cultivate field tomatoes. In 1954, Russell moved with his new bride Maxine to Park Rapids, Minnesota. That first summer, he seeded tomatoes in the house, and planted them on the south slope of their garden.

Here in the photo, nearly fifty years later in 2003, Grandpa Russell Carter shows tomato seedlings to his granddaughter Anna.

Today, in Minnesota, Maryland, Idaho, and Iowa, Russell’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren continue to raise tomato seedlings. And this summer in Idaho, Russell’s great-grandson Boone watched his father, Clinton Carter, plant tomatoes in their garden.


Y’all come see us at Carters’ Farm this September and October! We’ll have music, wagon rides, pumpkins, and more.

Clinton and Sarah Carter of the band Carter Junction will perform at the farm the weekend of October 9 and 10.

We’re excited to host another year of autumn festivities at the farm! This year, we will be open on Saturday (10:30-6) and Sunday (12-6), as well as Friday, October 22 (MEA Weekend), between September 18 and October 31. 

The main addition to this year’s festival is the Corn Crib Stage, which will host live music events throughout the day as well as a concert by the country folk band Carter Junction on October 9 and 10. Carter Junction is Clinton and Sarah Carter, who will be visiting us from Idaho to perform their signature blend of country and Celtic music.

Read more here.

Carters’ Farm Returns to Roots

June 10, 2021

 “Y’all come see us at the farm!”

In 1969, Russell Carter was in the farm garage looking at a long white board, trying to think of something to paint. The sign would go atop a wooden wheel wagon pulled by two ponies in the Park Rapids Logging Days Parade. A big goal of “Carters’ Tomatoes” was to get people to come to the farm.

Russell’s father, who was visiting, joked, “How about ‘Y’all come see us at the farm now, ya hear?’”—which he of course got from Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies. Russell didn’t say a word, but began painting “Y’all come see us at the farm!”

The gang ready for the 1969 Park Rapids Logging Days Parade: Mark Carter, Clinton Carter (Russell’s father), Rita Carter, Tony Carter, Russell Carter, and Jonathan Carter.

From a table alongside the road, to a wagon, to a little barn, to a big barn, and now back to the farm, and occasionally at area farmers markets. For decades, Russell Carter wanted to sell produce raised on the farm right from the farm, rather than hauling produce to a main highway. Today, people are more ready for a farm experience and more willing to drive a country road to get good country produce.

Read the rest of the press release here.

Grandma Carter’s Rhubarb Cake

Wikimedia Commons

Rhubarb is one of the most beautiful plants to harvest on the farm. I remember being proud of being old enough to cut some myself for that day’s market. —Tessa, granddaughter of Russell and Maxine Carter


  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 c. fresh rhubarb


  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir together flour, soda, and salt.
  3. Add sugar, butter, sour cream, egg, and vanilla.
  4. Beat until well blended.
  5. Fold in rhubarb. Pour in 9 x 13 buttered pan.
  6. Combine topping and sprinkle on top.
  7. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Cool in pan before serving.

*Feel free to add some oats to the topping! Many Carters aver that rhubarb, apple, and peach crisp, cake, and pie always do better with a generous granola topping.

Zucchini Bread

Wikimedia Commons

Zucchini is the gift that keeps on giving in your garden. If you can’t eat all the zucchini bread yourself, try baking a loaf for friends and making a house call to drop it off! There’s nothing like bread to break the ice.


  • 3 eggs
  • 2 c. sugar* and 1/4 c. applesauce
  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 c. grated zucchini
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 1/3 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. nuts of choice

*Cut to 1 c. sugar if desired!


  1. Beat eggs.
  2. Add sugar, oil, and zucchini.
  3. Mix flour, salt, soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add to eggs.
  4. Add vanilla and nuts, then pour into greased and floured loaf pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hr.

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

Wikimedia Commons

Wild rice is one of Minnesota’s jewels, all the more treasured for the need for delicate harvesting.


  • 6 T. butter
  • 1 T. mincedonion
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 3 c. chicken broth
  • 2 c. cooked wild rice*
  • 2 c. diced chicken, cooked
  • 1/2 finely chopped carrots
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. half and half

*4 c. water to 1 c. rice; boil and simmer 1/2-1 hour.


  1. In large pot, brown onion in butter. Thicken by adding flour and stirring constantly on low heat.
  2. Add broth, rice, chicken, carrots, and salt.
  3. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup half and half and serve.