Lights at the Farm illuminates Mesa

Brightly lit snowglobes are part of the attraction at Vertuccio Farms in Mesa this season. (Special to GetOut)

An East Valley tradition that’s sure to brighten the holiday mood has once again opened in Mesa.

Daniel Dille, owner of Lights at the Farm, said his fifth year at Vertuccio Farms will be the first with a revamped color spectrum.

The display, which runs through Dec. 30, covers more than 10 acres at Vertuccio Farm, on Power Road between Elliot and Warner roads. It has more than three million energy-efficient LED and RGB lights with over16 million color options in multiple themed section synchronized to Christmas music.

“We also want to provide an experience that can be enjoyed by everyone from toddlers to grandparents,” Dille said “Our displays offer something for everyone, no matter what their age is.”

The entire light setup will also have a “concert-level” audio system with 85 speakers throughout that will keep guests “fully-immersed” in the experience, Dille said.

“You’re not walking into a dead zone here at all,” Dille said. “You’ll always be in the audio field.”

Dille has worked in the lighting business for 20 years creating residential, commercial and municipal shows across Arizona, Oregon and Washington.

Rather than a drive-thru event, Dille said this “complete walk-through” show allows people to spend more time with their families in a festive holiday setting.

“It’s a little bit more of an intimate feeling for their family because they can spend the time that they want,” Dille said. “Rather at drive-thrus, you get 12 minutes, get through, get out as fast as you can.”

Along with the well-lit holiday cheer, Lights at the Farm offers a miniature golf course, pony rides, petting zoo, pallet maze, family games, a rotation of local food trucks and refreshment vendors selling treats such as cocoa, fudge, cookies, pancakes, and popcorn.

A holiday festival wouldn’t be complete without skating on a synthetic NHL-grade ice-like surface.

Dille said the outdoor skating surface is made of “the world’s fastest synthetic panels” has garnered praise from former NHL players who use similar surfaces to train in the offseason.

An enhancer that allows the skate blade to keep traction to the surface as if you’re on ice, Dille said.

“That enhancer that’s built into the plastic when you’re skating around, that enables the blade to keep the traction that it needs to be able to push off and stop as you’re going.,” Dille said. “It’s a very, very hard plastic surface that we use, it all snaps together at the seams. You don’t have any gaps or any bumps in it anywhere.”

The 4,000-square-foot skating rink can hold approximately 70 skaters comfortably and doesn’t require a Zamboni to resurface the ice.

Instead, Dille said they pressure-wash it initially and then use a rideable floor surface cleaner in between sessions.

In the five years of using this skating surface, Dille said they’ve never had to call the manufacturer for a problem and have only had an occasional complaint from people who’ve never ice skated before.’

“If a skating rink was 10 out of 10, this is probably 8 out of 10,” Dille said. “You’re just not going to have that exact same feel as ice.”

Dille approached farm owner Cono Vertuccio five years ago to host the event at Vertuccio Farms and it seems to have paid off for them.

According to Dille, it could outpace the 24th annual Fall Festival at the farm that ran from late September to the end of October this year.

That’s something that makes Cono Vertuccio very happy he invested in such a deal.

“It’s like just a winter wonderland here,” Vertuccio said. “We just got a lot of fun.”

With 75,000 people that visit the farm annually, Vertuccio estimates 40,000 visiting for the Fall Festival.

“It’s kind of a tradition,” Vertuccio said. “There’s so many people that come in and then they’re grown up now and then they’re bringing their kids.”

Dille estimated last year’s Lights at the Farm brought in more than 80,000 people, with most of that coming from pre-sale tickets.

Due to labor costs, Dille said he had to raise ticket prices $2, but he still estimates around 100,000 tickets sold this year.

That price increase comes from having to hire people to update some props and displays to accommodate the full color-change equipment.

That change may prompt past frequent fliers of the show to say that there’s less displays but Dille insists it’s more of an efficient system they use now.

“If a light goes out in that now, all we have to do is cut one lamp and replace the lamp and we’re done rather than a whole string of 100 lights,” Dille said. “It changes the game completely.”

If You Go...

What: Lights at the Farm

Where: Vertuccio Farms, 4011 S. Power Road, Mesa.

When: Through Dec. 3, 5:30- 9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 5:30-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Cost: $18 Friday and Saturday, $15 Sunday-Thursday; Skating, $10.

ood and beverages are not included in ticket prices. Parking is free.