Pumpkin patches: A fall tradition

When Linus went in search of a sincere pumpkin patch in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” he probably didn’t count on the (literal) dog and pony show that goes along with the commercial pumpkin patches in Iowa.

These pumpkin patches offer lots of activities for the kids (petting zoos, pony rides, slides, hay rack rides), stuff for the grown-ups (shopping), and something for just about everyone (pumpkins! Corn mazes!)

Going to a pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins, buy apples, eat cider donuts, and ride in a hay wagon is my idea of a fun thing to do on a fall weekend. When our kids were little, we made a big deal out of choosing pumpkins with them. After they got older, we just started buying pumpkins and gourds at the farmers’ market.

Last year, on a whim, my daughter Katie and I went to the Center Grove Pumpkin Patch near Cambridge and had such a great time we wondered why we ever stopped this fun family tradition. There are LOTS of pumpkin patches in Iowa, so we decided to try a different one this year.

Howell’s Pumpkin Patch is near Cumming, Iowa – not too far south of Des Moines. Both of the girls went with me this time. Katie was crazy for the goats and ponies; Lauren liked looking at the different kinds of pumpkins. If they had been a bit younger, I would have had to buy them a pony ride and probably a trip to the corn maze, but as we are all more or less adults now, we just walked around and enjoyed the produce and critters. You’re never too old to feed the goats – at least not in my family.

There’s a website that lists all the pumpkin patches in Iowa. It’s not a great-looking site, but the links seem to work, and you can choose which area of Iowa to visit (the list is by county). I do recommend Center Grove for its cider donuts, caramel apples, apple butter, and hay rack ride. Howell has a lot of mums, dried flowers, holiday-themed gift shop, and the aforementioned goats.

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