BELLEVILLE, Ill. ( - Eckerts Family Farms is an annual tradition for thousands of families in the St. Louis region, with acres of apples and pumpkins to choose from.

The fall season is coming to a close, but officials at the farm in Belleville said while the year has been challenging, loyal customers looking to fulfill annual traditions helped keep it afloat.

"I think people are looking for that," said Chris Eckert, President of Eckerts Inc. "We just want to have things we can do with our kids, get out of the house, not on a screen all the time doing a Zoom call and this provides that kind of experience."

On Saturday, hundreds of families flooded the apple orchards and pumpkin patch ahead of Halloween next weekend. 

The farm has put certain safety measures in place to ensure guests remain safe. Face masks are required on wagon rides to the fields and while families are out picking. Barriers separate families on the wagons and reservations ensure only a set number of people are in the fields at one time.

"The attitude I took was, 'lets quit thinking about what we're doing next month, let's just worry about what we're doing tomorrow," said Eckert. "All we can do is respond to what happens."

The Stribling family makes the outing a yearly affair. After being cooped up inside for much of the year, they're excited to be able to get some fresh air.

"Everybody gets a pumpkin," Jimmy Stribling said. "We can't go home until everybody's hands are full.

Stribling said he looks forward to the quality time spent with his family and won't let concerns over coronavirus get in the way of that time.

"Get out of the house, don't let coronavirus keep you cooped up," he said. "Get out, enjoy life and be with your family."

Eckert said Christmas trees will be available for picking later in November. At this point, several other annual events hosted by the farm are in question due to restrictions.

"It's going to be a little bit tricky for Santa Claus this year," he said. "We're still working a lot of those details out."

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved


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