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Serving: MO

Agritourism offers great escape

Hickory Ridge Orchard welcomes visitors to relax, rejuvenate and find rural fun.

In my interactions with people lately, I’ve found there is a lot of mental and emotional fatigue surrounding the coronavirus, politics and the state of the world in general.

I’d like to offer a respite from your doldrums by getting out into the country and experiencing a little bit of fall flavor by taking part in agritourism. There is no better place than Hickory Ridge Orchard near Mexico, Mo.

Brandt and Kelsey Schisler, like many urban dwellers today, were looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Fort Collins, Colo. They searched for a way to escape. What they found was an opportunity to pursue a dream of a farm devoted to agritourism in mid-Missouri.

In 2017, they bought the old Binder’s Apples and Alpacas place, complete with an apple orchard. And the couple began a journey to bring a little peace not only to themselves, but also to those who visit.

They opened in fall 2018. Hickory Ridge is a combination of pumpkin patch, apple orchard, corn maze, petting zoo and nature trail. It is a one-stop shop for an afternoon in the country.

The apple orchard offers both U-pick and prepicked apples all the way through early November. The orchard has 23 apple varieties, including Gala, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Jonathan, Fuji and Goldrush.

Peak apple picking runs from early September to late October. And true to any orchard, they sell them by the bushel and peck.

Hickory Ridge offers all kinds of apple treats, including decorated caramel apples, apple cider doughnuts and raw apple cider by the gallon.

When it comes to pumpkins, they come in all shapes and sizes. The Schislers welcome visitors to sort through the wagonloads and find the perfect pumpkin or gourd to suit any fall decorating or baking needs.

Hickory Ridge does not forget the kids. It is a family-friendly agritourism destination. There are rides on the barrel train and a petting zoo. As a family, take time to stroll through the corn maze. As an adult, work out those frustrations by shooting through a corn cannon at targets lined up across the field.

Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy the country this time of year. There is a freshness to the fall air here. Take a minute to breathe it in. Then breathe out, relax and rejuvenate.

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