ILION – Twenty years ago, the Randazzos never imagined they’d be guiding gaggles of children through their various animal pens, selling artwork and honey from their back porch, hosting weekend hayrides. Yet this weekend, that is exactly what they’ll be doing, for about their 15th year.
Susan and Rick Randazzo invite young and old alike to visit Randy’s Ridge Hobby Farm, located at 216 Avery Road,
this Columbus Day weekend for tours, horse rides, hay rides and homemade refreshments of chili, popcorn, mini donuts, cider and more. They will be holding festivities Saturday through Monday from noon to 6 p.m.
The Randazzos bought their bucolic property on the outskirts of Ilion back in 1996.
“A hobby farm wasn’t a part of the plan originally,” Susan Randazzo said. “But we’re both big animal lovers and people started giving us animals.”
It started with chickens, Randazzo said, followed by rabbits. Next came a few Guinea pigs and then a horse.
“Before you know it we were a menagerie,” she quipped.
At the time, Randazzo worked as a waitress at a local restaurant.
“I was always telling people to stop by and see everything,” she recalled. “And it just kept growing. We started hosting Girl Scout troops and pre-K classes. Then we started holding birthday parties. Eventually we acquired a hay wagon and started giving rides.”
Today, the hobby farm is home to some 20 animals and 80 birds from horses, pigs and goats to hens and peacocks.
But the hobby farm is as its name suggests: a hobby. The Randazzos do not use their animals to produce goods or make money. Instead, they find joy in creating a happy home for otherwise homeless animals and those looking to retire, as is the case with a number of their horses.
“It’s our home,” Randazzo said. “It’s not a business. We do everything on a donation basis.”
Donations Randy’s Ridge gladly accepts include shredded paper (used for horse stalls and other bedding), kitty litter, old blankets, cracked corn, old bread and, of course, cash. And on a weekend like this upcoming weekend, the couple does charge $3 for a hayride and $1 for a horse ride.
As a special treat, Sunday and Monday, Randy’s Ridge hopes to welcome a niece and her team of Percheron draft horses to tow the hayride.
“We usually pull it with the tractor, so having a team of horses I think will be exciting,” Randazzo said.
Avery Road and Randy’s Ridge can be reached via Barringer or McGowan roads. They are open to the public every day except Wednesdays. For more information, call 315-894-0250.