THOMPSON, North Dakota — It’s a tradition for Brittany and Phil Ring to share their holiday customs each year at the family’s farm.
The couple and their two children, Izzy and Jud, opened Ring Family Farm about eight miles west of Thompson, North Dakota, in 2018. The family wanted others to experience the same kind of holiday tradition they had enjoyed when they drove to Cavalier, North Dakota, to cut their Christmas tree.
"It was, like, a day event for us," Brittany Ring said. Before cutting their Christmas tree, they would get hot cocoa, and afterwards, eat lunch at a small town on the way home.
After the Cavalier tree farm shut its doors, the Rings started thinking about developing a tree farm of their own so people could enjoy the same kind of family experiences that they had enjoyed.
The Rings’ initial plan was to open their holiday business when the evergreen trees they planted on their farm were large enough to cut. However, the owners of a nearby fall seasonal business encouraged them to purchase trees wholesale and resell them while the Rings were waiting for theirs to grow.
In October 2018, the Rings decided to take the advice of the business owners they had talked to, and a month and a half later opened Ring Family Farm in a tent. They quickly sold out of the trees, and the next year purchased more from their wholesaler, and those also sold out in two weekends.
This year, the Rings have hundreds of balsam, Frasier, Canaan and Korean fir and white pine and scotch pine trees for sale. The trees are upright so customers can see all sides of them, the the Rings or their volunteer staff net wrap and load the trees for the buyers.
Purchasing a tree is only a part of Ring Family Farms business, though.
“We ran with the idea that we should make it an experience,” Brittany Ring said.
The farm offers a variety of activities, such as hay rides, hopper ball, a Frosty the Snowman walk, and sells concessions.
Meanwhile, the Rings own a menagerie of animals that include goats, donkeys and llamas, and have an on-farm petting zoo during the weekends they’re open.
Customers also can sit by an outdoor fire or watch a holiday movie in a steel grain bin they moved to their farm. There also are several spots on the farm where families can take photos of themselves in a holiday setting and a gift shop in which people can buy wreaths, holiday decorations and clothing.
Throughout the year, the Rings think about ideas that could add to their customers’ experience, and then implement them during the holiday season.
“You never punch out. You always think of the next cool thing we can add to it,” Phil Ring said.
This year, the family is introducing “knocker balls,” which are large, waist-length plastic balls that children and adults can place over their heads and bump into one another with.
The Rings aren’t concerned about making a profit, and any extra money they have goes back into the farm so they can improve their business.
“It’s fun to see families getting together and doing something,” Brittany Ring said.
Ring Family Farm opened on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 25. The family planned to eat together at noon and then “get ready to run,” Phil Ring said.
Ring Family Farm dates and hours in December: Dec. 3, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Dec. 4, noon to 6 p.m.; and Dec. 5, noon to 4 p.m.
Ring Family Farm Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RingFamilyRanch/photos/a.1978664765707796/3000947826812813/