Pumpkins, hayrides and farms supply a rustic rendezvous this fall for students searching for entertainment other than the usual dinner-and-a-movie.
Hunting for the perfect pumpkin to transform into a jack-o-lantern this month, some students have chosen to go further than the supermarket to find their unique gourds in one of several patches open to the public.
Sophomore Ryan Perdue said he has not bought a pumpkin yet, but plans to find one at one of the farms next week. Perdue, a mechanical engineering major, explained that he normally buys his pumpkins at farms around town.
“I have a date with my girlfriend, and we’re going to carve one up,” Perdue said. “We’ll see what comes out of it. It could be funny, it could be scary, it could have two faces on one pumpkin.”
Students have several options for pumpkin picking places. The Farm, a restored farm that hosts tours, hayrides, pony rides and other programs, has a barn packed full of hundreds of pumpkins this month. A large, silver pail that pumpkin hunters can weigh their chosen gourds in hangs from the barn roof; pumpkins under five pounds cost $1, and every pound over five costs 20 cents more.
Pumpkin patches cater to mostly elementary school children, said Louise Frager, manager at The Farm’s Silo Store. But the pumpkin patch, tours and hayrides have provided entertainment, jack-o-lanterns and, in some cases, romance for older people as well.
“The other day a girl brought her boyfriend here for a hayride,” Frager said. “It’s not all little kids who come.”
The Farm charges at least $10 per hayride, and for groups of more than 10 people they cost $1 per person.
Perdue said he has taken a girl on a hayride before, and he thought it was romantic.
By college, some people have stopped smashing pumpkins to take advantage of the more constructive functions of America’s most beloved orange squash.
The October editions of magazines like Country Living and Better Homes and Gardens have pages filled with ideas of how to carve pumpkins, how to display them, and many other uses.
“There are so many things you can use a pumpkin for,” said Vicki Merritt, a pumpkin farmer and Mary Blair Elementary school secretary. “You can make pie, put them outside for decoration, cook the seeds, or even plant the seeds to grow your own patch.”
Merritt grows pumpkins in her Windsor backyard, where some of the oversized gourds have reached nearly 100 pounds this year.
Frager recommended a couple other uses, like making stew in a hollowed pumpkin or baking pumpkin cookies.
This fall, pumpkin patches in the area include Lucky Bucky’s on South County Road, Osborn Farm on Southeast 14th Street in Loveland, The Farm on North Sherwood and numerous others. Most greenhouses and plant nurseries also sell the popular orange fruit.
In Weld County, Anderson Farms Harvest Festival and Cooksey Farms provide pumpkins and activities to the public. The Colorado Department of Agriculture created this year’s “pumpkin patch list” for people to locate which patch they want to hunt through. More information on harvest events is available at www.ag.state.co.us.
The Farm is open to pumpkin hunters or people curious to see how a farm works from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and on Sundays from noon to 5:30 p.m.
Students interested in a hayride with their friends or a romantic ride with that special someone can call ahead at 221-6665.
-Edited by Shandra Jordan and Becky Waddingham