This is the time of year when patriotic Americans will remember those famous words, “Think not what your pumpkin can do for you, think what you can do for your pumpkin!” And then traditional parents read witty nursery rhymes to their children, “Peter, peter pumpkin eater”. Finally the mind lights up, the soul is on fire and recognition seeps into our consciousness. It’s the pumpkin patch season!
Pumpkin Patches are the best way to entertain your kids this season. With a theme park feel but a farmers market cost, the events are immensely popular. Pumpkin Patch fun is available from Pumpkintown, Connecticut to Pumpkin Town, Oklahoma. From late September through October they are an established part of American heritage. In every State they provide needed income for farm owners and employees with an affordable fee of perhaps $10 per person plus extras.
This is the time of year when Americans, old and young, walk the fields to pick pumpkins. Then the real entertainment begins. The variety of activities is endless, each offering unique picture opportunities. Hay bale mazes, cornhusk teepees, petting zoos, moon bounces, haunted houses, carnival games, ziplines, pig races, pony rides and pumpkin demonstrations are all combined with live bands and an upbeat atmosphere that drives enthusiasm for fall and reminds us of the winter season to come. Picnic lunches are enjoyed by many although barbeque offerings are equally enticing. Delicacies include candy apples, kettle corn and roasted corn on the cob. Many farms go a step further with pumpkin chili, pumpkin stew, pumpkin bread, pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin juice.
Not all farms can meet the demand for pumpkins. The erratic nature of weather systems has caused havoc for many pumpkin growers. The owners, keen to maximize sales, have resorted to importing pumpkins from parts of the country which have not been suffocated by too much rain or too much sun. In Delaware, the pumpkins are hard to find this year because of rain saturation. Keith and Rebecca Johnson of Johnson’s Country Market in Selbyville explained, “With agriculture, you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature and this year, she wasn’t very kind to the pumpkin crop.” Draught causes just as much of a problem and farms in New York State fared no better.
Your local pumpkin patch is thinking about what they can do for you; they solve the uncertainties of demand by importing from out of state farms. This year the winning state is probably Nebraska. Harvest Moon Pumpkin Patch in Oakland, Nebraska said they’ve had a great crop. “I tell you what, we’ve had a really good year,” said Terry Wallerstedt, who runs the retail operation. “The year before we had drought and the pumpkin crop was horrible. This year, it was just great. We’re almost completely sold out.”
Pumpkin Patch owners are keen to spread the happiness and most publicize their efforts to raise money for charities. Many fire and police departments, Rotary Clubs, a variety of children’s organizations, animal shelters and a broad array of other causes are happy beneficiaries.
Dampeners on the pumpkin patch farms come only from government regulators who have intervened with the entertainment plans. Arata’s Pumpkin Farm in Half Moon Bay first opened in 1932. This year it has been forced to cut back on the size of its maze and skip the Halloween House altogether. Complaints about parking or perhaps concern that the Farm was taking away business from other farms in the area, has triggered the San Mateo County Agricultural Advisory Committee and county government to limit Arata’s festivities.
This aside, the American people have much to smile about. Families, preschools and retirement homes are bringing folk to smell the hay, buy a pumpkin and feel good about life at the same time. As Alexander McCall Smith explains in the delightful, No 1.Ladies Detective Agency, it is sometimes time to take your pumpkin out of the pot and eat it. You can think and think and get nowhere but you still have to eat your pumpkin.
By Vicky Judah