Family farm lights up Sandhills with Christmas display

Highlanders Farm is a sixth-generation family farm in Carthage on N.C. 22. Today, John and Vickie Blue own and work the property. During the holiday season, Highlanders presents a drive-through light show for all to enjoy. 

Family farm lights up Sandhills area with Christmas display

John and Vickie Blue of Highlanders Farm.

Highlanders’ first light show was in 2021, making this their third year running. 

Load your family in the car to see more lights than the Blues can count. The sight might just take your breath away. From gingerbread men to roller coasters, Santa’s workshop to Santa’s airport, the light show has it all.

Family farm lights up Sandhills with Christmas light display

The show consists of colorful, flat light displays — some purchased, some homemade on the Blue’s farm. 

“We started making our own frames last year, and we’ve done a few more this year,” said John Blue. “I’ve enjoyed building lights. Once you get going and get in that mode, it’s fun.” 

You’ll drive through one of the farm’s fields, where these colorful displays are exhibited. 

But your visit doesn’t have to end there. Highlanders serve hot cocoa and apple cider so that you can warm up in the country store. Or, if you run hot, grab some of Vickie’s homemade ice cream. Holiday flavors are in.

On top of that, children can drop off their Christmas lists in the North Pole’s mailbox, and Santa will be there at specified times.

Highlanders has been active in the community for years. The Blues sell homemade ice cream and homegrown produce in summer. Also, they offer seasonal strawberry and flower picking. 

Family-owned farm lights up Sandhills with Christmas display

However, many of these attractions cease in winter. “The Christmas light show was something to keep the farm going, generating some revenue in the offseason,” John explained. 

The light show idea originated because winter wasn’t profitable. As such, John said, “We’ve thought about something like this — agritourism in fall or winter — for years. We went to several light shows in South Carolina and Virginia. We played with that idea and decided we could do it.” 

The Blues discovered an untapped market in the Sandhills.

However, Highlanders wasn’t always the farm it is today. It was a tobacco farm for generations, selling straight to big companies. In the Blue’s lifetime, about 20 years ago, things changed. 

“The companies started to pull back and get their product from overseas,” John explained.

Profits dropped, and the Blues had to think of alternative sources of revenue. 

Family farm lights up the Sandhills with Christmas display

“When I started farming, it was a steady career,” said John. “You wouldn’t expect to be trying new crops, going into other things. But that’s the way agriculture’s gotten. That’s what led us here.” Here: a community-oriented farm that sells to individuals. 

“Dealing with people in the public, changing that model, is a different thing for an old farmer. We’ve evolved.” John said. “If we didn’t have the communities and the people we have, this wouldn’t be possible.”

“People hate to see farms go, and I do too, but they’ve got to be profitable,” he continued. “So I’d encourage people to not just come here but to visit farm stands and markets. It really makes a difference. It’s what we’re relying on now. We appreciate it.” 

Support a local farm by visiting Highlanders this holiday season. Details, hours of operation, address, and tickets (a car with up to six passengers costs $20, while a van costs $30) can be found on their website:

~Article and photos by Sandhills Sentinel reporter Andrew Sellers.

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