Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Reeger's closes market, cancels pumpkin festival

by on August 30, 2013 11:00 AM

ARMSTRONG TOWNSHIP — An autumn tradition has come to a close, at least for now.

Reeger’s Farm Market has closed and those at the farm will not be holding the pumpkin season festivities that have been a fall fixture for more than 20 years.

Those at the Armstrong Township farm describe the closure as a business decision.

The Reeger family’s other farming operations will continue, according to Barb Byerly, of Indiana, who spoke on behalf of her family. The farm grows a variety of crops.

“We want the community to understand that we’re still farming,” she said.

She said that in recent years, the market — with a cafe←, bakery and gift shop — had not been as profitable for a small family-run farm.

Byerly’s brother and sister, Bill Reeger and Mary Masterson, held the stake in the farm market partnership, but everyone in the family helped with the market and pumpkin festival.

“We feel like we had our season and don’t regret anything we’ve done,” Byerly said. “We totally worked hard through all those years together.”

The farm has been in the family for about 100 years, she said.

“We worked so hard and we don’t regret one second of that,” she said. “We believe what we did kept us working and playing as a family, and that’s the most important outcome. Family is important and we have always been committed to that.”

While the closure is indefinite, Byerly indicated that if someone in the family wanted to one day take the reins of the market, it would be possible.

“We always have ideas,” she said. “We just aren’t committing to anything right now.”

A Facebook post Thursday announced the closure. It also said that there would be no pumpkin festival — the news followed by a frowning face emoticon.

Not long after the information was posted, Facebook followers began adding comments that expressed their fondness for the farm and their sense of sadness to see the farm market and festival go.

By today, more than 100 people had commented.

Byerly said she took the comments to mean that the community appreciated all the Reeger family had done with the market and festival.

“We enjoyed what we offered to the community and the community appreciated our hard work for many years,” she said.

Sara Statkowski, of Indiana, had been hoping to take her 1-year-old daughter, Isabella, to the pumpkin festival this fall.

“We’re going to have to find something else,” she said. “It’s sad. It was a tradition in the area. A lot of people counted on it and loved it.”

Statkowski, 30, grew up around Saltsburg. As a child, she had often gone to Reeger’s pumpkin festival.

“They’re going to be missed,” she said.

Judy Palaski, 65, of Homer City, has been going to the farm since she moved to the area in 1974, often making sure the farm was a stop for anybody visiting her from outside the area.

She remembers taking her daughter Jana Palaski’s Girl Scout troop to Reeger’s on Columbus Day to pick out pumpkins and have lunch.

“It grew into the big pumpkin festival, but we were kind of there from the beginning,” she said.

Her daughter later went on in the 1990s to work at the farm during her summers off from college. On visits to the farm in recent years, Palaski said, those there would still ask about her daughter by name.

“She just loved working there,” Palaski said. “It really is a family farm.”

Anna Clawson, of Indiana, grew up not far from Reeger’s. She lived so close, in fact, that she could walk through the woods to the farm and market.

She has been taking her children to the farm since “before they were born.”

The kids, she said, looked forward to going to the farm each year for its slides and towers of hay, corn maze, fresh apple cider and, of course, the chance to pick out their own pumpkin from the patch.

She said she will miss the “generosity we were always shown.”

Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for the Indiana Gazette. Among her assignments are coverage of the Apollo-Ridge School and Penns Manor Area school districts and also White Township.
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