Halloween will never be the same: Didier Farms near Lincolnshire is closing
A Halloween tradition in the Northwest suburbs has come to an end.
And for families who picked out their pumpkins at Didier Farms near Lincolnshire and enjoyed its annual Pumpkinfest, fall will never be the same.
"After years of serving the community with fresh locally grown vegetables at our Farmstand, pumpkins & donuts at our Pumpkinfest, and flowers from our Greenhouses, we have decided to close our doors," the Didier Family announced Wednesday on Facebook and in an email to longtime customers.
While the retail farmstand and greenhouse operations ended Monday, commercial farming will continue, according to the statement. Tebo Evergreen also will continue to operate on the property, selling Christmas trees, wreaths, boughs and garlands.
Donna Didier later confirmed the news by phone.
"We have retired," she said. "We worked very hard for many, many years, and things are not getting any easier as we get older," Didier said. "We're working harder with less labor, and it's difficult.
"Now it's time for us to spend time with our families and our children and our grandchildren, and do some of the things that we have never been able to do," she said. "We are very grateful for all of our customers and for all of our employees that we have had throughout the years."
Donna is married to Dave Didier, one of three brothers -- along with Rick and John -- who have most recently operated the farm acquired by their grandfather in 1912.
To loyal customers, the news came as a shock.
"I was really saddened, because it was something we looked forward to," said Wilmette resident Julie Goldstein, who enjoyed visiting the greenhouse with her husband, Scott Goldstein. She also bought honey, fudge and Amish jellies at the farmstand, "all those things you didn't have to drive to Wisconsin for."
"We have been there many times when the kids were little," Buffalo Grove Village President Beverly Sussman said.
Buffalo Grove resident Sue Jacobson said she and her family have been going to the farm for nearly 30 years.
"Sometimes I would drive over, sometimes I would walk over," she said, recalling buying Halloween costumes in one of the cottages and wending through the corn maze.
Jacobson said she is expecting a grandchild and was looking forward to visiting the farm with the new baby next year.
Greg Koeppen, executive director of the Lake County Farm Bureau, said his family's vegetable farm in nearby Wheeling had a friendly business arrangement with Didier.
"I have many fond memories of getting produce from (the Didiers) for our stand in Wheeling when we were running short, and they did the same from us," said Koeppen, a Grayslake resident.
"It was always a welcoming place to go," he said. "Back then, it was just your typical farmstand without the greenhouse."
Over the years, he watched as the farmstand became an "agritourism destination," drawing visitors from as far away as Chicago and Milwaukee, while suburbia sprung up around it.
"The most important thing that they did is they truly kept it a family farm," Koeppen said. "Their brothers were still involved. Their wives were involved. They put their kids to work. They learned what it was to work hard and make a living and give back to the community."