As fall brings Halloween closer and closer, area residents are beginning to seek pumpkins, and pumpkin patches are becoming a prime destination. Whether for use as jack-o’-lanterns, decorations or pies, pumpkins are plentiful.
Pumpkins come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, some patches offering more than 50 varieties. White, blue, green, red and peach are some of the hues to choose from, and some varieties have a combination of colors. Sizes range from miniature to nearly 200 pounds.
This summer’s drought conditions have resulted in some patches being harvested earlier and crops being smaller, but some locations still offer a pick-your-own option. Most are pre-picked.
At Wooden Farm in Elizabethtown, most of the pumpkins already are harvested, but in some cases, visitors can make a visit to the patch to select their own, Rita Wooden said.
“We do let some people do that,” she said.
Pumpkins about the size of a basketball are the most popular purchase right now at Wooden Farm, she said. The choices of style and color are bounteous.
“We have a lot of different varieties,” Wooden said.
Most pumpkin patches offer varieties with such names as “one too many,” “white lightning” and “peanut,” the latter being a variety with a wart-like surface similar to a peanut shell.
“We stay pretty busy,” said Pam Rhinehart of Red Mill Farms in Elizabethtown. At Red Mill Farms the pumpkins already are harvested. “I guess our most popular is the extra large,” Rhinehart said. Extra large pumpkins there weigh in at 15 to 17 pounds. Visitors to Mink & Walters Pumpkin Patch in Elizabethtown can browse the pre-picked pumpkins or visit the patch themselves. “They’re welcome to go pick their pumpkins,” Jenny Walters said.
Very small pumpkins, or miniature gourds, in the 2 to 4-inch diameter range, pie pumpkins, which she also called backpack size, and giant pumpkins, of which the largest is about 190 pounds, are available at the farm.
“It takes two people to carry those from the field and load onto the trailer,” Walters said of the giant pumpkins.
Crawford Farms in Hodgenville offers visitors the opportunity to pick their own pumpkins. Pumpkin seekers also can choose from a selection of pre-picked pumpkins.
“Obviously pumpkins are a little smaller this year, and the economy is still struggling,” Mason Crawford said. Pumpkin purchases are not quite as brisk as in past years, and the harsh summer has taken its toll on the crops, he explained.
Miniature gourds and pumpkins “upwards of 100 pounds” are the range of offerings at Crawford Farms. During the early part of the season, customers tend to want the largest pumpkins and the smallest jack-o’-lantern pumpkins, Crawford said.
The weekends — particular the third weekend in October — are among the busiest days, he said.
Becky Wilmoth of Wilmoth’s Pumpkins & More in Hodgenville said visitors to that farm are interested in non-traditional types of pumpkins.
“It’s just a large variety of the unique and ugly even,” Wilmoth said. “People really seem to like the unique.” Such selections are typically used for decoration, she said.
The farm’s offerings all are pre-picked, and while visitors represent a “mix” of the public, the “typical” customer is someone there with family, Wilmoth said.
At Hinton’s Orchard & Farm Market in Hodgenville the pick-your-own and pre-picked options are both available to visitors. Like many other venues, Hinton’s offers a good variety of pumpkins and gourds, including a flat type called “Cinderella.” “People like those because they stack two or three high,” Joanna Hinton said.
Most of the pumpkin patch locations also offer other activities, some free and some at a cost. Hay rides, corn mazes, petting zoos and cornhole games are among activities that enhance the pumpkin patch experience for visitors.
While buying habits change the closer Halloween gets, some choices are consistent at some locations. “The standard orange jack-o’-lantern is always popular,” Hinton said. AREA PUMPKIN PATCHES