PARTY AND EVENT RENTALS
A Brief History of Rich Farms
Mike Rich grew up on Grant Street in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. His father, Sam Rizzo, immigrated from Italy, and the name Rizzo was shortened to Rich at Ellis Island. After returning from the war, Mike and his father purchased a tract of land near Smithfield. PA. In 1949, they began clearing the land and cleaning the old farm house that was on the property and over the next few years the two men began growing vegetables beginning with tomatoes.
In 1954, Mike married Lydia Cellurale from Dunbar, Pennsylvania and they continued to raise crops and sell the fresh vegetables under the tree below the farmhouse. Ralph Rich, Mike’s brother, and his war bride Gene moved to the farm and worked with the family for the next two years. Later, Ralph and Gene moved to San Antonio, Texas to raise their family as Ralph made the military his career working for the CIA.
In 1955, Mike and Lydia started their family of three girls and four boys. As vegetable production increased, the vegetables were sold on a wagon pulled up along the highway. Later, the first roadside market became permanent and increased in size yearly as the farm expanded and became known throughout the area for its fresh vegetables, especially Mike’s sweet corn.
Mike was an innovative and progressive farmer. He brought the first irrigation system to Fayette County using the existing pond to water the crops. He also started his own plants from seed, and grew many crops incorporating organic pest control, creating ways to control insects with the use of few pesticides. He also used organic fertilizers as much as possible.
In the 1970s, Mike, Lydia, and their children began raising vegetable and flower plants for the roadside market. They supplied and sold fresh vegetables and plants all spring and summer. In the fall, the family grew acres of pumpkins, soon to become known as the pumpkin farm. Along with pie and Halloween pumpkins, the farm supplied large quantities and varieties of squash, gourds, turbans, Indian corn, popcorn, shocks, and other farm crops.
In 1982, the oldest son Michael returned after college to the farm with his wife Beth of Harrisburg, PA. Michael began raising and selling trees and shrubs at the market. Along with selling nursery plants, the landscape business began. Soon after college, brothers Tom and Mark returned to the family business to begin a partnership that exists to this day.
In 1990, the brothers had an idea to convert the farm house that had been abandoned since 1971 to build and operate a haunted house. The original house and surrounding haunts began as Rich’s Haunted House and was eventually named Fright Farm. Over the years, Fright Farm has continued to grow and today is known and visited by patrons from hundreds of miles away. It has also had the distinction of being voted best haunted house in Pennsylvania.
As the garden center grew, Richs Garden Center became known for their many high end departments. The buildings and grounds included a nursery, a full supply water garden shop, grills, floral shop, outdoor patio furniture, pottery & statuary, wall and patio stone, gardening supplies, large greenhouses, nursery stock area, and a large Christmas shop. Each November and December the Christmas shop also opened seasonal shops in the area’s malls.
Rich’s pizza shop, located adjacent to the garden center, became known as one of the top quality pizza shops in the area. Using recipes handed down through the years, the large menu of pizza, stromboli, salads, and sandwiches were made fresh daily and are still talked about by former patrons.
In December of 2000, a large fire destroyed the one acre garden center, the warehouses, offices, restaurant, greenhouses and all of the attached buildings. The fire was devastating, but the three brothers continued operating the landscaping business while expanding and operating Fright Farm. After building a temporary garden center over the next few years, the operations slowly relocated to its current seven acre nursery on the lower part of the farm.
Over the next couple years, Richs began a project they named Lightscapes. The project was a two mile car ride on the farm through lit buildings, structures, and features. After the tour, cars and families stopped at the Christmas festival with horse and buggy rides, a Christmas shop, a tree lot, and Santa for the kids. The project closed after three years, but is still remembered by many for its quality and millions of lights.
During this same period, Richs built large, seven acre corn mazes. Each year the original designs were created by Adrian Fisher, the world’s leading maze designer. The maze was a hugely critical successful venture but had to close after three seasons because of the conflict for time with the other summer and fall operations.
Today, Rich Farms has one of the largest wholesale and retail nurseries in the tri-state area. The field production of pine and deciduous trees and container lots of shrubs and perennials continue to expand. Wholesale yards north and south of the nursery are being planned. Also, design and landscaping offices are now headquartered at the nursery. Each fall, over an acre of pumpkins are resupplied daily from the fields for selection at the nursery, and fresh cut and rooted Christmas are also for sale in December.
Each fall, fright farm patrons continue to visit and participate in the original production for that year. The tour takes over an hour and includes a one mile haunted ride, a walk through the house grounds, basement and rooms, and through a large maze on the trip back. The event is open for the entire month of October and accommodates VIP groups in their own area.
Richs pumpkin farm is visited by thousands of children and their families each October. The farm includes a barnyard with animals, a maze, and a large play area. Children can choose from a field of pumpkins, and go into the barn to decorate and paint them. Adults and children can then take a one mile tractor and wagon ride along the farm trail, decorated with fall and Halloween features to look at an enjoy.
The facilities buildings and areas are modern and perfect for rental parties, groups, and events. These include two large open air pavilions, a finished, enclosed barn used for about any event, and a large facilities building able to house weddings and large events.
Opening new this year is a nature park available for rental with a large picnic area. The park includes a fishing pond, with our staff assisting the children, a large play area, and a nature walk through the woods. The park is both educational and fun, and will be open to groups all year and for general admission this summer.
Each Fourth of July, a huge firework display at the farm is open for free to the public to sit in our festival area, or to park on the farm and enjoy over a half hour of continuous shots.
DID YOU KNOW? On average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four.
TIP OF THE DAY! This is a great time to plant grass seed. Use a starter fertilizer for best results.