A Harvest Bounty in Perth County
(A Roguetrippers 48-hour itinerary)
When I sat down to write about our Perth County road trip, I had no idea what direction this article would take. Then, I started going through the photos we took and realized how much of a focus that community and food played in our little adventure. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense, as autumn is a time of harvest and bringing out a bounty of earthly delights. Perth County has an abundance of things to do, see, and enjoy, including so much farm-fresh goodness.
Our Stay in Perth County
Our autumn adventure began with a 2-night stay at the guest house at River Valley Golf and Snow tubing resort in South Perth county. This resort is a beautiful 18-hole golf course that was ablaze with all of the colours of autumn. Golf (and hockey) fans will love this course, owned by retired NHL Hockey Player Walter Tkaczuk, his daughter Sarah, and his family. The lush greens, situated on beautiful rolling hills along the Thames River, provide an enjoyable weekend getaway.
They treated us to delicious meals prepared for us by Chef Paul in their restaurant. Upon arrival, we enjoyed tasty chicken wings (it was wing night) and excellent Pad Thai. The next night was Fish and Chip night, and we enjoyed fresh fish coated in a well-seasoned and very flavourful herbed batter fried to perfection. Our accommodations were in the guest house, a very spacious place to spend the night in a rustic and cosy atmosphere. The building, nestled amongst the trees, offers a peaceful and tranquil stay with only the sound of chirping birds to be heard.
Upon arrival, a lovely welcome gift from Perth County Tourism was waiting for us in our room. This gift basket included many local cheese, preserves, fresh fruit, treats, and beer from many producers in Perth County. What a lovely welcome to make our stay more enjoyable.
We got our day started with a tasty breakfast at Dave’s Diner in Sebringville. This cute little restaurant is known for its freshness, and the seasonings they use make their food so delicious. After we were adequately fuelled up, we were ready to hit the county roads to discover more of what Perth county has to offer.
My mother was an avid knitter & crafter, and she would often ask me to join her on a 2-3- hour drive to Listowel to visit the Spinrite Yarn Factory Outlet. Here, she would stock up on bags of yarn at amazing prices, especially during their annual tent sale. Sadly, it has been years since I had been to Listowel, and I was amazed at how much it has changed since I last went there on a day trip with my mum. It has a gorgeous and thriving downtown full of great shops, restaurants, and bakeries. The charm and beauty of Listowel is an excellent example of what is best about small-town life in Ontario.
We spent a lot of time doing some shopping in some fashion stores like BK’s Brand Name & Knapp’s Shoes. We picked up some great kitchenware and some gifts for friends (Sshhh) at The Kitchen Cupboard & Icebox and deli. The ladies who work there were super-friendly, and it was a delight chatting with them. We enjoyed exploring all of the nooks and crannies of the Listowel Florist Gifts & Antiques. This shop is a unique place full of an eclectic mix of rustic farmhouse style items for your home, including décor, signs, DIY projects, birdhouses, artwork, and more. So much more than a flower shop.
Butter Tarts and Other Sweet Treats
Who would Roguetrippers be if we did not mention the baked goods? Oh My, those delicious and decadent baked goods.
When we visited Impressions Bakery and cafe, their café and storefront were not open yet. They were taking orders through the back entrance of the bakery. The cafe opened about a week later. While we were there, Graham and his team were extremely busy making fresh-baked pies and treats to meet the demands of the Thanksgiving weekend. The aroma in the bakery was spectacular. We took home a nice assortment of baked goods to enjoy on our road trip, including some butter tarts for our ‘quest’. You should follow their Instagram to see more of their unique sweets. Beware: it will make you want to get in the car and drive to Listowel.
Life’s a Party is a catering and party planning company serving a wide assortment of gorgeous treats. They have decadent squares, gourmet hand pies, pretty cakes, and fancy (and seasonal) decorated cookies. If you can’t decide what to get, ask for an assortment platter.
As we drove through Perth County, we came across Goats on 86 in North Perth. Nothing grabs our attention quite like a bunch of happy goats (and other farm animals). So, of course, we stopped playing with the goats, feeding them, and watching them frolic in their paddock.
Before lunch, we stopped into Millbank Cheese, a company known for having some of the best locally made cheeses around. Anyone who makes their poutine will need to visit to pick up some of their fantastic cheese curds. We grabbed a couple of bags to snack on, and they were excellent. I highly recommend the dill and garlic.
At nearby Zehr’s Country Market, you can find everything you will need to prepare a delicious meal for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or just a Wednesday night. Farm-fresh produce, fresh meats and cheeses, preserves and more can all be purchased here. Their spice nook has a vast selection of the spices you will need to elevate the flavours of your meals and baked goods.
We were treated to a lovely lunch at Anna Mae’s Restaurant & Bakery and got to sit in the highly coveted buggy seat. Everything here is made in the traditions of their Mennonite heritage – home-cooking, made fresh, and it is all delicious. They have a rotating meat schedule that you will want to check out when you plan your visit. As it was Thanksgiving weekend, of course, we had the turkey dinner and pumpkin pie. The service and quality of food are fantastic. It is like you are eating with family.
I have to admit – I have never liked pumpkin pie. NEVER. Everyone tells me, “you just haven’t had good Pumpkin Pie”. Something they say to get me to try theirs – but sorry – NOPE, still never liked it. However, the pumpkin pie at Anna Mae’s has finally broken the curse. I now like, no love pumpkin pie. To everyone who said that to me before, you are correct – I have never had ‘good’ pumpkin pie – until NOW.
No Autumn Harvest road trip would be complete without a trip to local farms and farmers markets for pumpkins, gourds, and other harvest décor items. We stopped at several along the way, but one of the prettiest was Cedar Crest Acres. Here we found our perfect pumpkin.
At Lynn River Farm, we met with Lindsay and her team as they were preparing a fantastic assortment of dishes for Thanksgiving, as well as quiches (it was delicious, BTW), pies, and other meals. They also have a gorgeous display of farm-fresh produce, preserves, and baked goods. Both are located in Perth County East and found on the FarmGate map.
Fall Harvest Festival
We had a lot of fun at the Fall Harvest Festival at McCully’s Hill Farm. Each year, they host various autumnal activities to help visitors learn more about farming, get some AGRI culture, and have fun. Upon meeting Dennis and his team (family), they gave us the history of the farm, who they are, what they are about, and what they offer. We explored the farm, played with the goat (of course) and visited the other farm animals. There are wagon rides through the farm – including the sugar bush where they produce their Maple syrup. This gave us another reason to come back in spring.
We also took part in our very first corn maze. While it looked like it should be easy, it was not. It was a lot more challenging than we expected, thus making it that much more fun. Check out our Perth County Insta-stories to see our videos through the corn maze. Dennis and his team were terrific. We thoroughly enjoyed our conversations with them about McCully’s Hill Farm. They carry a wide variety of preserves, maple syrup, baked goods, garden-fresh produce, and some locally produced meats.
Shakespeare is a town we know well. We pass through it a lot on our way to Stratford to see shows at the Stratford Festival. We often visit many businesses when we are here in town – including Shakespeare Pies, where we frequently pick up delicious pies and amazing butter tarts.
We headed straight to Shakespeare Brewing Company, where they held an Oktoberfest event with the launch of their newest beer – The Marzen – a classic Oktoberfest style brew. Shakespeare Brewing co is a small family-run business with a small selection of delightful craft beer. I have enjoyed all of their beer, but the Marzen, Pumpkin, and the Blueberry Whit are my favourites. We also enjoyed a little nosh of Reuben Poutine, Oktoberfest pretzels, and a chicken burger at The Tin House food truck. All of which paired nicely with the new beer.
A few of the other places that we make frequent stops at while in Shakespeare are
- Appleflats – producers of a variety of items made with crab apples grown in their orchards. The cocktail mixers and crab-apple jelly are a couple of personal favourites. They carry many things from other growers/producers from the surrounding areas, as well.
- The Best Little Pork Shoppe is purveyors of quality pork products – fresh and frozen. You will discover that they are more than just pork. They also have baked goods, meats and cheeses, a large assortment of gifts and home décor. Look for the giant pig statue – a fun roadside attraction.
- The British Touch is a cute little shop providing a real touch of England to the town. You can find real British treats, gifts, décor, and various food items that will take you on a trip to the British Isles.
- Organic Oasis Farm is located just outside of Shakespeare and has a vast selection of organic fruits and vegetables, and meats from their farm. Take a hike up to Happy Hog Lookout, where you can watch the hogs frolicking in the mud and sun.
The one common thread that we discovered in all of the places we visited is quality matters. Everybody uses farm-fresh, locally grown – produced – sourced ingredients in their food. Ingredients matters. Freshness matters. Supporting community matters. All of this was evident in every aspect of our visit to Perth County.
Good things do grow in Ontario. In Perth County, there is an abundance of good things to do, eat, and discover. Plan your visit to Perth County and the many communities that make up this significant part of Ontario. You can find many more activities and resources on what to do in the area on the Perth County Tourism website. Pick up or download a copy of their Farm Gate map and start exploring all of the farm-fresh goodness that awaits you.