Part of Sparta’s Harvest on the Ridge festival, which celebrates the township’s colorful crop of fruits and vegetables, the Dirty Apple Obstacle Run sets challengers on a 2.5-mile quest through “applesauce” mud pits, defiantly unflipped tractor tires, hurdles, and other agility tests. Whether participants struggle individually, work together as a family, or construct a mud-proof robotic surrogate, the point of the event is friendly competition and general good times rather than time trials. Afterward, racers gather at the festival downtown, where kids might put together a puppet or two, adults can swap stories and sip Michigan brews, and the whole clan can soak up the classic rock of West Side Soul Surfers.
Founded in 1989 as a roadside produce stand, the family-owned Schwallier’s Country Basket has since expanded into a full-grown farm market filled with autumnal attractions. Clues based around an annual theme are hidden within the corn maze, which guests of all ages navigate under the watchful eye of safety enforcers. Upon emerging from the labyrinth, visitors can pedal down the tricycle path, tour the grounds on a guided wagon ride, or greet a baby goat at the animal barn. A gated kids area also entices youngsters with attractions such as duck races and a straw mountain swarmed with prospectors trying to spin it into gold.
Elsewhere, raspberries, pumpkins, and more than 15 varieties of apples await picking in the farm's fields and patches. An onsite store also stocks various fall goodies, such as apple cider, indian corn, and homemade pies alongside crafts, toys, and fall-themed decorations.
In addition to sating stomachs with pulled-pork sandwiches and entertaining ears with live music, Cellar Brewing Company's dedicated staff fills glasses with libations fresh from its microbrewery, winery, and artisan distillery. The restaurant's plush, leather sofas sit beneath its rust-hued ceiling, and at a blond-wood bar, bartenders serve house brews and a variety of wraps and sandwiches. A glass of stout awakens taste buds craving a darker brew, and the cellar's servers pluck bottles of Michigan Apple Delight wine directly from in-house wine trees to complement sun-dried tomato and turkey sandwiches and soft pretzels.
In 1996, a group of golfers formed a membership program that offers deeply discounted greens fees at a network of affiliated golf courses in West Michigan. The program is PGAC, and the result provides two-for-one greens fees at more than 20 courses. After reserving tee times any day of the week, golfers can load up their clubs and spare mannequin legs to test their skills on the challenging designs of renowned regional courses such as The Highlands, Lynx, Macatawa Legends, and Diamond Springs. Along with saving golfers up to $7,500 and helping local courses increase their waterways? diet of golf balls, PGAC hosts fundraisers for local schools and organizations.
The revs of go-kart engines, the delighted shrieks of putt-putters, and the cracks of batting-cage chops have banded together in joyous harmony for more than 20 years at AJ's Family Fun Center. Each of the three locations caters to the entire family with a wide range of exciting attractions. Though activities differ slightly at each outpost, thrill seekers of all ages can participate in age-appropriate activities, such as Sprint Karts for ages 16 and up, mini golf for adults and kids, and arcade games for those old enough to have received the value of a token lecture from a wise elder.
The instructors at Becky Botsford Show Horses specialize in teaching students the disciplines of Western and English horseback riding. The trainers rely on their extensive experience in the show ring and on the trails, where they've worked with riders of every age and ability level. They welcome beginners into their training programs and instill proper riding technique, which can carry them as far as AQHA shows, Hunter/Jumper competitions, or the nearest drive-thru burger joint.