Making Magical Memories at Enchanted Acres

By Ann Foster Thelen

Enchanted Acres’ grand finale season promises to be full of all its farm guests’ favorites from hayrides and campfire s’mores to story time and pumpkin decorating. Learn more about this family-focused fall attraction in north central Iowa.

For the past decade, Enchanted Acres – nestled in the soil-rich farmland of north central Iowa – has been a place where all families can escape reality for a few hours and simply enjoy spending time together in the great outdoors. It’s that “happy place” where kids and kids at heart can channel Cinderella or Jack Sparrow, pick a perfect pumpkin, feed goats, learn all about chickens and so much more!

Enchanted Acres was founded by Shannon Latham – a fun-loving, authentic “farm girl” who calls herself a lifelong Girl Scout. At Enchanted Acres, Latham is the caretaker of one pot-bellied pig, 12 goats, a lot of chickens and a large pumpkin patch. Her passion for creating fantastic family experiences and sharing a love of all things food and family are contagious.

Latham is also an Iowa State Representative and vice president for Latham Hi-Tech Seeds. Enchanted Acres has been a passion project for Latham, but with family and professional obligations vying for her time, she recently announced this would be Enchanted Acres last season. But it won’t be the end of its magic.

“Enchanted Acres has always been, and always will be, my happy place,” Latham says. “I absolutely enjoy sharing my love of agriculture with our farm guests and their families or friends. So much has happened since opening Enchanted Acres in 2012. I’m forever grateful to have worked with my family and so many others from the community who have lent a helping hand to bring joy to this part of Iowa every fall.”

Latham hints at what's in store for the future of Enchanted Acres, “While our pumpkin patch won’t be open to the public next year, there’s more in store for this magical place. I’ll be making an announcement later this fall.”

Enchanted Acres opens for its final season on Friday, Sept. 23, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 23.

Latham shares more about the inspiration behind Enchanted Acres and what is planned for the season finale.

Please note, by clicking the following links, you’ll be leaving a partially funded checkoff site.


Enchanted Acres is truly a magical place; tell us more about this beautiful space you have created.

Enchanted Acres is a place where memories are made across many generations. We’ve focused on creating experiences for families so that they create lasting memories. By no means are we the biggest pumpkin patch in the state! Instead, we’ve created a place where families can visit, and kids can run and play, all while getting a taste of farm life. During the fall season, we have fun and games for the entire family, including hayrides, pumpkin decorating and books in the barn. We want families to create wonderful memories by experiencing agriculture hands-on by feeding our goats or firing the pumpkin cannon. Whether families will come here for the first time in 2022 or have been coming here for years, I’m excited to help kids and adults create lasting memories.


Why is Enchanted Acres all about creating that perfect family experience?

I have great memories of helping pick out our family Christmas tree each year. I’ve always wanted kids to have that same experience picking out their favorite pumpkin! We often forget to slow down, relax and look for family activities that we can do together. At Enchanted Acres, parents enjoy knowing that this is a safe place for kids to explore, discover and have fun.


What made you create Enchanted Acres?

I grew up on an acreage, spending countless hours outside using my imagination. I was a “‘mom” to all kinds of four-legged fur babies. I spent hours running through the fields, chasing butterflies, and having innocent fun. I raised and showed registered Suffolk sheep for 10 years as a 4-H member. After college, I moved to the city. Once there, I yearned for wide open spaces and the smell of fresh-cut hay. I missed the warm feeling that spreads from head to toe when you nurture an animal and that feeling of accomplishment that comes from doing things yourself.

When I became a mother, I wanted my children to experience life’s simple pleasures – finding pleasure in rich and colorful sunsets and appreciating wildflowers that splash color in a sea of green grass! Above all, I wanted my children to have a place where their imaginations could run wild, and that’s what started the idea for Enchanted Acres. I wanted to give these experiences to as many kids as possible. Now, my kids are in college, but it makes me so happy they were involved in Enchanted Acres for many years.

You are very passionate about agriculture and food; tell us more about why this is important to you.

Growing up, we had a huge garden. My mom raised broiler chickens. My grandparents raised pork and beef, so our freezers were full. My mom and dad often said, “We fed ourselves tonight.” I never had any fears about the quality of food I was eating. I was blessed to be in a family with great cooks, bakers and canners.

That’s why I’m so passionate about helping people understand where their food comes from. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know so many farmers who are focused on providing a great quality of life, being excellent stewards of the land, and growing safe and healthy crops. These same farmers also take great care of their livestock. Unless you’ve raised livestock, you may not understand how much emphasis farmers place on care, including proper nutrition, ventilation and temperature control. I enjoy helping to share that story.


We’ve been fortunate to host dozens of kids’ tours at Enchanted Acres, and many kids don’t know where their chicken nuggets come from or if a chicken is an egg-laying chicken. Many kids also learn the difference between meat goats and milk goats. Their curiosity and expressions are amazing.

I’ve always sought opportunities to engage in dialogue with people of all ages and help create an understanding of agriculture. Whether through my blog on, sharing recipes, giving kids an agricultural experience at Enchanted Acres or simply talking one-on-one with people, there are always opportunities to learn from each other and share information!

What activities do you have planned for this fall at Enchanted Acres?

This season promises to be full of all our farm guests’ favorites from hayrides and campfire s’mores to story time and pumpkin decorating. This year we’re doing a new event, Fiesta on the Farm. We’ll have a miniature donkey and two darling Valais sheep. Our pumpkins are incredible this year – probably our best yield ever. We’ll have our corn maze, which is the state of Iowa, with the word HOME in it. Our market, featuring locally made items, produce and flowers, is fun for those who love a little shopping, too. Our space will be open for field trips throughout the year.



It will be a bittersweet season because I love running Enchanted Acres. It’s so gratifying meeting with farm guests and sharing my passion for agriculture and food with visitors. Hosting field trips for kids has been a delight over the years.

Enchanted Acres has been special for so many reasons, especially being able to have my family involved. Like our guests, we've been blessed to make incredible memories together.

For full event details, visit the Enchanted Acres website at