ORANGE you glad it's Fall?

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Surrounded by fields of orange and yellow produce, the fall season has come back to life for a 10th year at The Pumpkin Patch.

Managing the U-pick since its opening, Theresa Lassila finds the environment of farm animals and crops relaxing.

"I love to share that experience with people and their families," she said.

One of the reasons the farm remains open is because of Lassila and her father Phil's passion for farming.

"We have it in our blood," she said.

Phil owned the property for many years prior before Sunny Farms owner Roger Schmidt suggested installing a small patch of pumpkins at the corner of Kitchen-Dick Road and U.S. Highway 101.

Grew like a ... pumpkin

The idea grew into its current incarnation of a much larger lot with a pumpkin-topped lookout tower, straw maze, hundreds of pumpkins, cornstalks and more. Each year, the patch has grown in some capacity with either new features or infrastructure like the expanded Old West replica buildings.

However, this year marks the first time there won't be a corn maze due to a high cost for upkeep, Lassila said.

Zach Janssen, a farm employee for three years, said his favorite part was the corn maze, but he is grateful to continue the pastime comfort of sitting near a warm fire eating cooked corn.

Despite one maze down, the straw maze remains a big attraction for families at $5 for children and free for adults.

From farm to home

Visitors come from all directions for the experience of finding their own great pumpkin.

Many pumpkin U-pickers haven't heard the farm lingo that seems so common to locals.

Lassila said after installing the chicken pen with a candy machine to dispense feed, she placed a sign reading, "Chicken Scratch 25 cents."

Shortly thereafter, one man gave her a quarter asking to physically scratch a chicken.

Lassila laughs about the experience, but believes The Pumpkin Patch's role is important to introduce people of all ages to how a farm works.

"This gives people an opportunity to pick things like pumpkins off the ground rather than just going to the local grocery store," she said.

Many schoolteachers bring science lessons on field trips to educate students on the pumpkin-growing process.

Halloween is emphasized less as teachers oftentimes request costumed or actual farmers instead of witches or other characters as guides because they want to maintain an educational approach while still having fun.

Available on the farm

A Wizard of Oz theme still prevails with tours hosted by characters like Dorothy and the Scarecrow.

The Pumpkin Shoot, a pumpkin catapult, remains a big draw every year too as people pay $5 for three chances to launch orange orbs toward a barrel hundreds of feet away.

Lassila said about seven people get a pumpkin into the barrel annually. Each winner receives $100. The Pumpkin Patch offers:

• Thirteen varieties of pumpkins

• Squash at 40 cents a pound

• Potatoes, 30 cents a pound

• Uncooked sweet corn, two ears for $1

• Cooked sweet corn, $3 an ear

• Cornstalks, $5 a bundle

• Straw bales, $7 each

• Kettle corn popped fresh daily, $5 a bag

• Wagon rides behind draft horses on Saturdays, $1 per person

• Horseback rides from noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, $5

• Theresa's Treasures with unique items and unusual collectibles in the nearby greenhouse.

Lassila said she is glad to have the farm open one more season.

"I'm hoping we'll be open every year, but it's uncertain for next year."

She encourages all people to come and partake in the farming experience.

"It's a fun family or date experience and it's relaxing."

A Thanksgiving Harvest Festival will be held starting Friday, Nov. 20, with a dinner the following day provided by the The Sauer Kraut German Deli.

For more information, visit the restaurant or call 582-1400.

Reach Matthew Nash at

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