Glenn Orr started Orr Family Farm almost 20 years ago after buying a small train to tote around his grandchildren. Now, almost 100,000 people visit the 107-acre operation each year.
It’s no secret: Fall, the season for cooler weather, a lot of football and controversial flavors of coffee, has become trendy in a way that seems likely to stick around for a while. And when people are looking for a spot with pumpkins and hay rides to create perfect autumn memories, thousands seek out Orr Family Farm—a sprawling 107-acre property in southwest Oklahoma City peppered with outdoor activities, fair-style games and food, and stunning photo opportunities.
“What really got us started was the train,” said Dr. Glenn Orr, a retired veterinarian who began working along with his family in 2003 to build Orr Family Farm into a family-friendly experience for the community.
Back when it first opened for business in spring 2004, the operation was modest, focusing on hosting birthday parties and offering train rides, pony rides, a carousel and a plastic maze. But since then, the business has expanded considerably and now offers more than 20 activities, including life-size foosball, giant slides (new in 2022), an intricate corn maze, a ropes course and a barnyard where guests can feed and pet goats, sheep, cows and llamas.
Originally Dr. Orr and his late wife Shari, who passed away from breast cancer in 2011, wanted a small train on their land to entertain their grand- children, but then they kept upgrading.
“After I’d spent half a million dollars, I thought, ‘Hmmm, I wonder if the public would like this.’ So, we opened it up to the public,” Dr. Orr said.
Fall is their busy season. Tom Orr, Dr. Orr’s son and business partner, said last year the farm welcomed around 90,000 guests with about 65,000 of those visiting from September-November
“It’s just a good place for families to come, especially weekends. You get complete families coming out together,” Tom said.
As indicated in the name, Orr Family Farm is a family business, with three generations working on staff, but even those employees who aren’t actually related say they quickly felt included as family.
Shanain Kemp, who started with the business 16 years ago as a secretary booking birth- day parties, said she originally intended to stay about six months until she found something more permanent. Now, with the title of manager, Kemp reflected on how many visitors have created family traditions at the farm over the years.
“Now that we’ve been doing this for 19 years, kids who had their parties here are bringing their kids,” Kemp said.
Rachel Cates, another longtime employee who started in 2004 at age 15 as a guide for the birthday parties, is now lodging manager for the newest Orr Family Farm venture—the overnight glamping (glamourous camping) experience, which began in 2019.
Guests who glamp stay in either covered wagons or Native American-inspired teepees, both styles fitted with modern amenities: air conditioning and heating, refrigerators, microwaves and coffee makers. The glamping area features a 19-foot-long swim spa, a firepit, charcoal grills, picnic tables and a facility with bathrooms and showers.
“One of our original slogans, was ‘Always some- thing new at Orr Family Farm,’ and we have stuck to that every year, adding one or more attractions or activities,” Dr. Orr said.
Dr. Orr said he knows his late wife Shari would be as happy as he is about all the new additions to what started as train rides for their grandchildren.
“I think she would love it,” he said. “I really do. She would love it as I have.”