Apple Daze – On The Farm At Detering Orchards

Detering Orchards Image | Sandy Harris

Fall is officially here (no, I’m not after your job Tim Chuey), the air is crisp in the mornings and the leaves have begun to change.  I fight the loss of summer with every ounce of energy that I have, for a few reasons really.  I like to be warm for one thing and the other thing is the fact that I hate socks, but that story is for another time.

Detering Orchards Image | Sandy Harris
Detering Orchards Image | Sandy Harris

Begrudgingly, I opened my drawer and actually found a matching pair of socks (a small miracle really) put them on and glanced at my flip flops in the corner, seemingly discarded as I fought a tear and headed out the door.   My destination?  Detering Orchards.   I wanted to see what their Apple Daze were all about.

Detering Orchard was started nearly 80 years ago by Gerald and Marie Detering during the Great Depression.  Growing over the years from 40 acres to about 200, as it stands now, and is known as the largest u-pick / fresh pick fruit and vegetable farm in the Willamette Valley.  It is located in Harrisburg, Oregon about 15 miles north of Eugene.

Detering Orchards Image | Sandy Harris
Detering Orchards Image | Sandy Harris

The sun beat down through my windshield as I drove towards Harrisburg, instantly regretting my socks, shoes and jacket; the digital thermometer read 76 degrees!  Once I arrived at Detering Orchards, the attendants directed me where to park and off I went.

People were everywhere, pulling carts full of apples and wagons with pumpkins.   What I liked about this, instantly, was the fact that children were everywhere.  I spotted a corn maze and swing sets, antique tractors for anyone to take a seat on and pretend they were a farmer for a moment.  The kids, not caring who was looking and doing what they do best, climbed on board and took over the controls.

Detering Orchards Image | Sandy Harris
Detering Orchards Image | Sandy Harris

I saw the produce stands and couldn’t get over how beautiful everything was.  I have never seen such large purple cabbage in my life.  I raised my camera to take some photographs and before I knew it, someone was calling my name.  I turned around and there stood Rick Dancer! He was shooting for his upcoming show Rick Dancer TV , which airs each Sunday.  Holy cow… I’m going to be on tv!

I had never met Rick before and I can tell you he is a very pleasant man and he’s tall!  We chatted for a bit and then off we went to do what we both do best!  I continued to shoot (with my lens) the happenings around me, enjoying the heat of this beautiful October day at Detering Orchards.

Not only do they have a free corn maze, tractors and swings for the kids to play on, there are hay rides, apple cider and food!  I was feeling a little parched when I noticed an orange cooler with tiny Dixie cups neatly stacked beside it and decided I needed to investigate.  What I found was an amazing apple cider.  Oh my; it was delicious!  Okay, delicious is an understatement.  I don’t typically drink juice of any kind since my scare with possibly being pre-diabetic but I decided to try theirs (when in Rome, right)?

Detering Peach Orchards  Image | Sandy Harris
Detering Peach Orchards Image | Sandy Harris

I am a rebel and so instead of taking the hay ride, I meandered through the orchards.  The quiet was amazing.  With the sun streaming through the leaves casting a light on them and the rows of grass between the trees, I think I could have stayed there all day.

I headed back to the main event and the orange cooler that held my bliss.  Refreshed after a few sips of amazing Detering Orchards apple juice I headed over to the apple sling shot slinger where I found kids loading up the apple blaster and firing apples at an unsuspecting target.

There is a horse kids can sit on and some goats who seemed curious to see me and wondered why was I talking to them through the fencing.  I know they wanted to come see me but waiting for the other to make the first move.

Detering Orchards Image | Sandy Harris
Detering Orchards Image | Sandy Harris

I found some Herefords (the orange and white cow) in another fenced off area.   If you have never been close to one, now is your chance.  They are the sweetest things.  Did you know they have no upper teeth?  It’s true!  These animals had the longest eyelashes I have ever seen on cows!

The heat was getting to me and I decided I needed to head home and find my flip flops.  I made my way back to the main market area; I was not going to leave without some of that delicious apple juice, which is made right there on the farm.   On my way I noticed a little girl standing beside some pumpkins, patiently waiting for her family to return.  Obviously, she had already made her choice of pumpkins and stood watch over it.  It was all I could do to get my camera up and ready to take the shot.  I bought myself a half gallon of apple juice and headed home, the whole time wishing I had something to drink from in my car but, alas, there was nothing.  Anticipation set in and I sped home, my juice safely buckled in the passengers seat.

Detering Orchards Image | Sandy Harris
Detering Orchards Image | Sandy Harris

I had such a wonderful time at Detering Orchards and plan to make it back there for sure.  A warm and inviting place to go.  They are holding their Apple Daze each weekend during the month of October.  I would highly recommend heading out there.  The maze is free and if it wasn’t for a little boy who happened to show up, I may still be in there.  I am pretty sure he saved my life!  I let him know I has happy to see him and if he would kindly escort me out as I have lost my way.  Taking the reigns, he gladly stepped up, glancing back occasionally to make sure I hadn’t wandered off and led me to safety.

Here you can find more information on their Facebook Page for directions, contact information and schedules.

See you out there!


Sandy Harris is a writer for Eugene Daily News. Sandy grew up on an island in the Alexander Archipelago in the southeastern region of Alaska. Her life's passions include writing and photography. Follow her on (

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