Every October, I corral several of my friends with children to head to the pumpkin patch.
Every October, I corral several of my friends with children to head to the pumpkin patch. These gatherings in the crisp air of rural Ohio serve multiple purposes: First and foremost is the procurement of pumpkins. Second, it's an excuse for my friends to meet one another (life is wonderful when friends become friends with friends). Finally, a hidden agenda: The photos I take of these events become grandparent fodder. I have a secret goal to have a pumpkin-patch photo make at least one photo calendar per family per year.
Traditionally, Lynd Fruit Farm in Pataskala has been my go-to for these autumnal adventures. With pumpkins, apples trees, a corn maze and a giant dirt hill (which ensures a dusty ride home), the farm has all the makings for a perfect October day. A recent trip, though, brought the brood to Pigeon Roost Farm, east of Pataskala. Pigeon Roost is also fabulous. The ubiquitous photo backdrops, piles of pumpkins and corn maze create a world that's just as delightful for adults as it is for kids. Large plastic pipes transform into giant hamster wheels and swinging tunnels, while a well-trodden soybean field becomes a maze for little ones. An enchanted forest (perfect for a little shade) houses a magical obstacle course. And don't forget the petting zoo.
The Great Pumpkin
The choosing of a single pumpkin can take upwards of four hours, if naps, lunch and not ever leaving the pumpkin patch are not issues. Evan traditionally searches the field for every dandelion and bug available before deciding on the smallest, most green pumpkin he can find. And David is always more interested in rocks than anything else (pumpkin patches never lack for rocks). Some of these distractions are eliminated at Pigeon Roost, with a "pumpkin store" laid out at the entrance, complete with wagons for lugging around favorites. Did Zander like the wagons infinitely more than he liked the giant stack of pumpkins? We all know the answer to this one.
Pigeon Roost does all it can to make lunch accessible, with picnic tables and hand-washing stations aplenty. Think it's arduous gathering 10 children (and their parents) for a mid-day gathering? That's simple, compared to trying to get said children to eat lunch at the same time. From Connor to Ellie to Lillie to "Other" Connor, getting butts in seats at the picnic tables (when there were so many fun temptations nearby) was more difficult than trying to call each child by the right name.
$6 per person, plus the cost of any pumpkins purchased.
Lesson Learned: Read the Fine Print
While access to the pumpkins is free, the majority of activities at Pigeon Roost are on the "other side" of the fence, meaning all the really cool stuff costs money. It was widely assumed the $6 entrance fee was only for kids, but it also applies to the adults. So make your budget - and calendar-photo op - decisions accordingly.
- Jill Moorhead doesn't have children, but borrows her friends' kids with a dual purpose: to actually see her friends, and to find ways to spoil their offspring. She writes about food in Columbus Crave and Columbus Monthly, as well as at itinerantfoodies.com.