#EscapeWithNCAg is a year-long series that will focus on agritourism across North Carolina. Many farms, wineries and other agricultural businesses in our state offer events such as tours, yoga, educational classes, pick-your-own events and festivals, to entertain the public and teach them about our state’s number one industry. Each Thursday, we will feature a new site for you to visit with friends or family. Stay tuned and learn how to escape the stresses of life by diving into agriculture!
If you’re looking for a weekend roaring with fun, head on over to Sweet Valley Ranch NC in Fayetteville! What started in 2016 as a simple horse farm, has turned into a home for over 500 animals, exciting events year-round and the only permanent dinosaur exhibit in the state.
In 2022, Anita and Fred Surgeon began opening Sweet Valley Ranch to the public with the Festival of Lights. “We know how special this place is for us and how much it brought us back to our roots in agriculture,” Fred said, “so, we wanted a way to share that with the community in a way that brings people, especially families, together.” The Festival of Lights takes place in November and December and features over 1 million Christmas lights! Customers ride through the farm on wagons to experience the beauty of lights on the farm and visit with the animals. Llamas, horses, chickens, rabbits, buffalo, cows, a zebra and a camel are just a few of the animals you can expect to see! Since the beginning of the Festival of Lights, Sweet Valley Ranch has expanded to offer many other agritourism events. “There is a reason to visit in every season,” Fred said.
Sweet Valley Ranch is home to over sixty animated dinosaurs that breathe and roar across the property each year. Opening in June, Dinosaur World features eight acres of immersion in the land before time, a fossil museum, and an ice age cave with various prehistoric animals. Guests can also enjoy the dinosaurs during their go-cart tours and other farm tours throughout the year.
In the fall, Backwoods Terror offers visitors a chance to visit the farm and get their adrenaline pumping! Journey through the spooky ranch and explore the horrors hidden within. From ghosts and graveyards to clowns and skeletons, its sure to get you in the Halloween spirit.
Finally, Springtime Adventure, taking place from March 5th through May 28th this year, is a fairly new event at Sweet Valley Ranch. With over 300 acres of land, Fred and Anita wanted to give the public an opportunity to visit the farm in a new way as well as get involved with farm tours. “Springtime Adventures was the perfect combination because it offers many fun events for all ages, including rides, inflatables, carnival games, wagon tours and go-cart/ATV tours,” Fred said. Helmets and goggles are provided for go-cart tours that take visitors around one of four trails on the property. “We typically take groups of about fifteen at a time on one of our trails here and allow them to experience the beauty of nature, fun of the wetlands and excitement of the farm from the viewpoint of a go-cart,” Fred said. “Sometimes we get muddy, sometimes we see the animals, but we always have a great time and adventure together.” Go-cart tours are one hour long and cost $35 for a two-seater of $45 for a four-seater. Springtime Adventures is open to the public, regardless of whether you choose to do a go-cart tour, and costs $10 admission online or $12 at the gate. Admission to other events at the ranch and for Dinosaur World can be found at the Sweet Valley Ranch website.
In addition to farm tours and all the agritourism events outlined above, Sweet Valley Ranch is also home to a concert venue that is used throughout the year as well as a gift shop on sight that offers merchandise from the farm, toys that capture the memories of adventures had at Sweet Valley Ranch and products from other surrounding agribusinesses and farmers. Most of their animals are also for sale if you are looking for a new furry friend!
“It’s all about the animals and creating a family atmosphere here at Sweet Valley Ranch,” Fred said. “Our goal is to share this legacy of love that we have built with others through these experiences.” By attending events at the farm, people can learn how valuable animals are to the farm and the world in general as well as what it takes to care for them. You also can learn about the process of growing hay, because all hay for their animals is grown on site, and enjoy the beauty of nature.
“Our favorite part of it all is sitting back and watching generations of family come out to enjoy the farm together,” Fred said. “That’s what life is all about. Spending time with family, disconnected from technology and invested in the world around them. Watching people learn about and enjoy agriculture in new and unique ways is both beautiful and rewarding.” Check out their website for more dates and details on their events for this year and start planning your adventure today!