The Autumn Grinch doesn’t get fascination with pumpkin patches

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Richard Bailey, Editor

Every fall, the photos of plaid-draped families standing next to an old, rustic piece of farm machinery flood social media accounts – blinding the user with images of orange, red and brown as the summer days slip further and further away. Fall activities are a part of Midwestern tradition – yet it is a tradition that I have never really understood – specifically the yearly trips to the local pumpkin patch. If I had been to a pumpkin patch in my lifetime, it would have likely been when I was in grade school.

I asked a few of my friends – some who had children and some who did not – about what they like about making trips to the pumpkin patch. The idea of making a special trip somewhere to buy an overpriced and oversized pumpkin just did not appeal to me – however, I was open to outside influence help me garner interest before I made my own trip to a pumpkin patch.

“We go to Rader’s Farm near Bloomington for the apple gun and the bouncy thing! And obviously the animals,” said Peoria resident and comedian Betsy Edwards.

Pumpkin patches are a great place to take children as they normally have a lot of different hands-on activities for them to take part in. Many pumpkin patches also carry extra goodies like apple cider, popcorn and pumpkin spice muffins. Some items, such as pumpkin spice-flavored beverages, are seasonal, and people exist through the three other seasons until they can get their fix next fall.

“Pumpkin Creek Farms is a good one, especially if you have kids. Chili and mini-donuts do it for me,” said Bob “Budda” Eskew of Riverton.

Still, even though the food is great and the pumpkins are plentiful, many of the people I spoke to reported that it was the family time, pictures and memories that they will cherish the most.

Regina DuRocher Keefe, a lifelong friend and mother of two, says: “We have gone to the pumpkin patch since I was pregnant with our first child, so it is just really a special time for me. I look forward to this one day all year!”

I went to the Apple Barn in Chatham and Bomke’s Patch. I bought some $25 worth of dirt-covered pumpkins that are sitting in my kitchen. I still don’t get the appeal of the patch.

After reflecting on the words of those that I talked to, I realized the annual visits were not to find the best cup of pumpkin spice latte, to eat the finest muffin, win an award for ‘Most Photogenic’ or pet the cutest goat. A hat and gloves can keep your head and hands from getting cold, but it’s the special time that one spends with friends and family that will warm the heart.

However, I’m OK with just taking a picture with that antique tractor outside Pizza Ranch and crossing the parking lot to snag a couple pics by the Walmart pumpkins. But have all that fall fun you want.

Richard “The Autumn Grinch” Bailey is the editor of The Lamp, and one who would rather stay home. But he at least appreciates why you like that pumpkin patch.