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December 9, 2023

Swank Farms Experience opens Oct. 1 with HopTober Fest

Pumpkin patch, sunflower garden, trail of lights, farm animals and more greet fall visitors

As the days become shorter, trees start to change their colors and the crisp of fall appears in the morning air, that means many San Benito County residents’ favorite seasonal pastimes are on the horizon. That includes the many events, activities and farmstand shopping opportunities on tap at Swank Farms just northeast of Hollister.

Swank Farms, which offers the autumnal Swank Farms Experience, will open to visitors on Oct. 1, kicking off the season with HopTober Fest—a celebration of craft beers featuring local breweries, live music and all the farm’s family-friendly games and activities. 

Dick Swank, owner of Swank Farms, said this year’s fall experience at the 4751 Pacheco Pass Highway venue plans to offer visitors an increasing variety of activities. On a recent tour of the farm, Swank pointed out the corn maze—with a new design this year—as well as the you-pick sunflower garden, pumpkin patch, goat pen (where younger visitors can go “fishing for goats”), cow train and a variety of kids’ activities, including Slide Mountain and two giant jumping pillows. 

New at Swank Farms Experience this year is a Trial of Lights toward the rear of the property, a nighttime excursion that will include family-friendly frights as Halloween approaches. 

“The goal is to have a really fun experience,” Swank said. 

Parents will have plenty of things to do as well, from live music throughout the season, to photo opportunities and local food and beverages, Swank explained. 

Swank has owned and operated Swank Farms for about 24 years—much of that time with his late wife, Bonnie, who designed the farm’s new barn that serves as an event center and gathering spot for visitors. 

“Fishing for goats” is one of many activities at the Swank Farm Experience on Pacheco Pass Highway during the fall season. Photo: Michael Moore

For HopTober Fest, patrons will be able to purchase tasting tickets that give them an opportunity to sample from a variety of beers crafted by local brewers—including Swank Farms’ own beverages.  

In addition to the fall season experience, Swank Farms continues to grow and sell produce year-round on just over 100 acres, according to the farm’s website. They sell their produce at a seasonal open-air market and farmers markets throughout the Bay Area and Central Coast. 

The venue also hosts weddings and other events throughout the year. 

“It’s been fun. The community has really supported us, and we appreciate it,” Dick Swank said. 

Swank Farms Experience is open 10am-10pm on weekends and other select days through the end of October, starting Oct. 1. Tickets are available at the farm and on the Swank Farms website,

Dick Swank walks through Swank Farms’ pumpkin patch to observe how the crop is coming along before the farm opens to visitors on Oct. 1. Photo: Michael Moore
Michael Moore
Michael Moore
Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

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