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. That summer Russell planted tomatoes on the south slope of their garden and sold his early tomatoes from a wagon on the side of Highway 71. As Russell and Maxine raise their (eventually) seven children, the farm grew as the family grew, including at various times a full dairy, Ayrshire cattle, sheep, horses, and chickens, as well as sweet corn, tomatoes, strawberries, green beans, pumpkins, hay, cucumbers, zucchini, and 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 was 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.
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 Tony and Linda Carter until Tony Carter sold it in spring 2021 and the market became The Red Barn, where Carters’ produce continues to be sold.
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.
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.
The Carter family had a great reputation for fine produce at fair prices when I was growing up just down the road and around the corner from them. That reputation has only improved in the fifty plus years since!!Teresa Sperling