#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!
Halloween and Christmas are high times of year for families and friends to get together and experience the holidays. Boyette Family Farms is a popular destination for many groups due to their Clayton Fear Farm event and Lights on the Neuse event during Christmas. Did you know that they are not only an agritourism hub, but also a fully functioning family farm? In fact, in recent years they have started expanding their farming operations to bring the farm full circle, back to its roots.
Boyette Family Farms, located in Clayton, is a multi-generational family farm that has grown and raised a variety of products through the years. “This farm has been in my family for as long as I can remember,” said current owner Anna Boyette. “We started out by growing a variety of produce and then transitioned to hog production for many years before my father turned to agritourism in 2001.” Clayton Fear Farm was the very first agritourism event that the Boyette Family offered, and it has been a huge hit ever since they opened. “Fear Farm is interesting because of the way that it has passed from generation to generation,” Anna said. “It is mostly an event for teenagers and kids, but the Lights on the Neuse event at Christmas is where we get to see and meet the rest of the family.”
The day after Thanksgiving each year, Boyette Family Farms opens their gate for Lights on the Neuse. Not only does the event consist of a 30-minute hayride through a variety of lighted scenes, but also a cookie decorating barn, concession area and more! “The hayride is a huge highlight for many families as it takes you through several beautiful scenes, including Santa, the reindeer and more,” Anna said. “We also end the hayride with our nativity and praying hands to remind people of the true reason for the season.” Admission to Lights on the Neuse costs $11 per person. Tickets can be purchased online in advance or upon arrival at the farm. Anna and her family, however, encourage purchasing tickets in advance to secure a timeslot and guarantee your ticket on the day that you wish to come.
During your time at Lights on the Neuse, be sure to visit the Sugar Barn and decorate a cookie for Santa, a friend or yourself! “We purchase Gingerbread Cookies from the Clayton Bakery and provide them to visitors at the Sugar Barn,” Anna said. “People can either decorate them there in the barn as they listen to Christmas music and enjoy refreshments, or they can take them home to decorate. It’s a fun time for families and friends alike to enjoy a simple and easy craft for themselves, each other or Santa.” There is also a concession stand available on-site at the farm where families can enjoy hot beverages, including hot chocolate, snacks and more.
Although she loves experiencing Christmas through the eyes of her family and friends, Anna’s favorite part of Lights on the Neuse is watching the other families enjoy the event and spend time together. “We have a saying that people should leave everything in the parking lot before they come in, meaning everything on their hearts and minds, anything that has been bothering them or weighing them down,” she said. “It’s a true joy to watch them do exactly that and simply come have a good time with their families at our event. It generates a huge sense of pride to be able to provide a space where even adults can be a kid again and enjoy the holiday season.”
In addition to providing agritourism events throughout the year, the Boyette Family has recently started journeying back into agriculture and farming. “We are trying to bring the farm full circle and connect back to our roots on the property by growing produce again and raising a small herd of hogs,” Anna said. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was hard for the farm in many ways, it also provided an outlet for Anna and her family to be able to farm again. “We stopped providing school field trips and farm tours during COVID, which opened up a lot of time for us as a family,” she said. “It was then that we discovered the joy in farming again and started working to bring the history, heritage and agricultural legacy of the farm back to life.”
As a working farm, the Boyette Family has a lot to offer in the way of education to visitors at Clayton Fear Farm and Lights on the Neuse. “As produce farmers and livestock farmers, we are able to educate on agriculture in many ways,” Anna said. “We get a lot of questions at both of our big events about the history of the farm, what we raise today and how we continue to function as a farm in addition to the agritourism events. We have a lot to offer in the way of agriculture education and we are proud to help kids and adults alike learn about our state’s number one industry.”
Start planning your trip today to Lights on the Neuse and be sure to say hello to Anna and her family during your visit! We are so thankful for all their hard work in the agriculture industry and all that they do to keep the legacy of agriculture thriving. We look forward to seeing how they will continue to grow in the years to come!