Manorville’s instantly popular agritainment sensation Waterdrinker Family Farm & Garden that opened in 2018 has expanded its Long Island footprint with a North Fork outpost.
The new Waterdrinker North Fork location opens Friday, Sept. 1, at 4560 Sound Avenue in Riverhead, the property of the former longtime landmark Garden of Eve Organic Farm.
The farm spans roughly 35 acres, and Greater Long Island was invited down this month while the work was in progress.
Here’s just a quick taste of what’s in store this fall and beyond:
- Blooming sunflower field
- Nine-hole mini golf
- Pedal cart races
- Tortoises and goats
- Slides, jumbo jump pads and bouncy castles
- Carnival-style basketball hoops, installed in a farm wagon
- Hay bale billiards and bowling
“There’s a real integration of farm and fair fun,” said James Garvey (pictured above) of Wading River, who was selected by Waterdrinker co-manager Marc Weiss to run the Riverhead location.
The carpenter by trade joined the Waterdrinker team in 2021 playing Santa Claus throughout the farm’s Christmas season, then grew with the business.
He was excited to point out hand-built structures and attractions getting ready for setup. “It’s the best feeling in the world to have an opportunity to be really creative and, not to use a pun, watch it organically grow,” he said.
At Waterdrinker North Fork, kids will also get to explore Adventure Avenue and its Western town facade, including a Town Hall, a saloon, a bank, a jail, and railroad tracks.
Beyond that, there’s an entire play village in store with elaborately designed mini buildings.
How it happened
Garden of Eve had operated on the land for more than 20 years as a beloved distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables and organizer of large community events.
While the owners, Chris and Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht, will continue to do some farming on one side of the property, they decided to “slow down a bit” and turned management, organic farming duties on the other side, and all events and festivals over to the Weisses.
In just about three months, Weiss and Garvey, along with a dedicated team of workers and artists, dreamed up and built an autumnal haven.
Using Walt Disney parks as a template, the two “farm-y, rustic [Disney] Imagineers” would sketch out ideas and bounce them back and forth — even some ambitious ones as recently as last week.
“It was always like, ‘What have we thought about for years growing up? What did you always want to see?’” said Weiss. “The Western town and Playhouse Lane are inspired by all the young kids in our family.”
He added, “James [Garvey] has been amazing. You can tell he really cares about the farm. He speaks the language. He gets it.”
Garvey recently found pavers along the farm and asked an employee and artist, Sierra Siedler of Sound Beach, to brighten them up with brightly colored designs to be placed in Adventure Avenue. “People can see that we didn’t just buy all this stuff from Amazon and stick it in the ground,” Garvey said.
In the midst of constructing and painting signs, and working on a handful of projects before the opening, Garvey said, “Big picture, I just can’t wait for this place to be filled with the sound of kids and teens and adults and laughing and giggling and music. On a much smaller level, it’s just the individual interactions people. ‘We had such a great day,’ ‘Totally worth the drive,’ just those little moments that are truly special.”
Weiss laughed, “I think we’ll be ready … freaking out a little bit, but we’ll get there.”
If you go
This isn’t just a farm theme park for kids, while parents sit on their phones.
For the adults, there’s an area to sip beer, watch bands and order from food trucks.
They’ll also find a large gift barn, roasted corn, fresh-squeezed lemonade, hot and cold apple cider, cider donuts, pies, baked treats, cheeses, and produce from local farmers.
The greenhouse nearby is stocked with seasonal plants such as mums, asters, crotons, and succulents, and Halloween decorations galore.
So get mentally prepared to be tempted to do some shopping.
The property at 4560 Sound Avenue basically serves as the gateway to the North Fork and the Long Island Wine Region. Also nearby is the Long Island Spirits distillery, as well as The Riverhead Ciderhouse, which is also family friendly and kicking off this fall season with a newly minted cidermaker.