4 locations. 50+ acres in Westford. Activities, food, events. More than 800 employees during peak season. It’s no small feat to keep it all running like a top.
We sat down with Ed Dumont, Kimball Farm’s General Manager, for a sneak-peek into what it really takes to make it all happen.
How long have you worked at Kimball Farm?
I’ve worked at Kimball Farm for 22 years. I’m the General Manager, but I’ve had many roles over the years.
I was originally hired to help build and manage Mini Golf and Bumper Boats. Our Grill & Seafood Shack wasn’t open at the time, and we were looking for creative ways to draw people over… the smell of good food cooking usually does that! So I started a food counter in the Grist Mill at Mini Golf that served up things like homemade pizza, chicken fingers, nachos, and fried dough. Once the Grill opened we shut that down, but it was revolutionary at the time. Today we see around 10,000 guests each week at our Mini Golf and Bumper Boat attractions!
I ran the very first cruise night across the street from Mini Golf in the parking lot, and we kept them going every Thursday night for a long time. We had live bands and served grilled food and ice cream. More than 500 cars would show each week. It was a huge hit but got too big for the space we have in Westford, so today we hold Cruise Nights on Fridays all summer at our Lancaster location.
During my time at Kimball’s I’ve also been actively involved in running Corporate Events and hiring and training many employees across a variety of departments.
What do you love most about working at Kimball’s?
I enjoy working on new projects— we’re always looking for ways to expand and add exciting new features and attractions. I also love that I get to work with such a diverse group of people, train new employees, and be part of a family business that creates hundreds of jobs for people in our community each year.
In an average year, how many people does Kimball Farm employ?
Across all departments and locations, we employ about 800 people during our peak season. About 50 of these folks stay on during the off-season to work in the Westford Country Store (which is open year-round), keep the operation running behind the scenes, and plan for opening day.
People are often surprised at the size of our groundskeeping and maintenance crew. We have 14 groundskeepers that are responsible for maintaining the Westford Driving Range and Pitch & Putt, as well as the general landscaping at all locations. It’s a lot of work for 14 people! Additionally, we have a staff of 10 who focus on keeping the plants and flowers at each location looking beautiful. And a staff of about 50 people who cover cleaning, parking, and security.
On top of all these folks, of course we have our Ice Cream Scoopers, Grill workers, activities attendants, and event staff who are the “face” of Kimball’s to all of our guests.
What happens at Kimball Farm after you close for the season?
Immediately following closing day, we start preparing the property to close for the winter and reopen in the spring.
We prep and re-paint every picnic table.
We take down all of the tents and send them out to be washed and packed.
We break down each grill station and clean and maintain the equipment so it looks good-as-new for opening day.
All activities are prepared for winter — this means inspecting all mechanical parts and repairing or replacing anything that needs it.
We try to do as many constructions projects as possible while weather allows. Once winter settles in, we start cleaning, repairing, and painting the insides of all our buildings at all locations.
By the time we finish restoration of the interiors, it’s time to reopen and we get everything back in place!
How come the ice cream stands close for winter? I know many people who would love to eat Kimball’s ice cream year-round!
We get this question a lot! It’s a bit technical but the bottom line is that the buildings were constructed as warm-weather properties…. Which essentially means some parts of the ice cream manufacturing process have lines that run outside. Once the weather gets too cold, those lines freeze up and it’s simply not possible to use the equipment.
Tell us what it’s like getting everything open and running in the spring. Does the type of winter we’ve had impact opening day?
The Westford Ice Cream stand always opens first, at the end of March. And Ice Cream at our other locations opens in the weeks that follow. We typically start making the ice cream about 2 weeks before opening day.
The timing for the Westford Activities to open in the spring depends a lot on weather — and also how many people we’re able to hire, and how much we were able to accomplish during the winter months.
Once it’s clear we’ve rounded the corner from winter to spring, we get the Driving Range ready and open as soon as we’re able.
A crew starts getting the batting cages, Soaring Eagle Zipline and Spin Zone ready to open.
Crews start putting up the nine huge tents that we use for things like the Grill/dining area, Animal Adventures, Private Events, and the Arcade. Once the Arcade tent is up, we put together the games and place them back in their spots.
Then of course there’s Mini Golf and Bumper boats (which are actually worked on all winter long!). We clean out filters, work on motors, and fill up the Bumper Boat pond. We clean out any debris that has collected during the winter. Then we fire up the pumps for the pond and all of the waterfalls on the Mini Golf courses.
Finally, we place all of the freshly-painted and tableclothed picnic tables in the tents, and we’re ready for guests!
Kimball’s hosts corporate and private events in Westford during the warmer months. How many events and guests can you have each day?
Our Event area can hold up to 2,500 people at a time. Sometimes it’s one very large group that books the property, but often we have multiple private events happening at the same time.
What do you think is the “best kept secret” about Kimball’s?
Without question it’s the people who work tirelessly — especially those behind the scenes — to make Kimball Farm what it is… an enjoyable, safe place where people come year-after-year for classic summer fun.
What’s your favorite thing to order at the Ice Cream Stand and Grill?
My favorite ice cream flavor is good old fashioned vanilla, and when it comes to the Grill any seafood works for me!
Check out everything you can do at each of our locations here, and if you see Ed walking around the property next time you visit, be sure to say hello!
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