On a breezy, crisp October morning, Wilson Elementary School first-graders from Jessie Groff’s class picked out the perfect pumpkin to take home from Pa’s Pumpkin Patch.
“Fun, fun, fun,” said Camdyn Darrah, 7, who was enjoying her first time at the pumpkin patch.
Full of boundless energy, the students raced through the corn maze, played pumpkin games, took a hayrack ride, and saw the black, brown, grey and white alpacas. The corn maze was designed by artist Dennis Schiel, and the path through the maze spells “FHSU” in cursive.
The field trip tied into this week’s classroom lessons for the students. They have spent the week learning about the life cycle of pumpkins and the blossoming flowers on the vine, which turn into pumpkins.
“In our first-grade class, we learn a lot about life cycles,” Groff said. “The kids have learned about the different stages.
“They’ve learned about the sprouts and how we get a big pumpkin. We had the opportunity to come out to this awesome pumpkin patch, and they can see exactly what the vines look like and what the blossoms look like. It’s important to make sure we show the kids real life.”
Games with a twist, such as pumpkin bowling and pumpkin putt putt, were a hit.
Pumpkins in every shade of orange, green and white area are available at the pumpkin patch, located at 978 250th Ave. The business is owned by Maggie Moeder, her husband Cameron, and Maggie’s father, Jeff Copper. The business has been in existence for three years.
“It’s called Pa’s Pumpkin Patch because it was my dad’s idea to do it,” Moeder said. “He said it would be nice for the community to have one.”
The name was chosen because Copper’s oldest grandchild calls him Pa.
Moeder works full-time for the business and grows the pumpkins. In the spring, she started several thousand pumpkin plants.
The pumpkins range in size. In year’s past, Moeder has grown giant pumpkins of approximately 175 pounds, but opted not to this year because giants require extra care.
The hardest thing to control is the weather, she said. They do irrigate the pumpkins by running water down the furrows.
This is also the first year Moeder has worked full-time in the business. The first year, they just had pumpkins; the second, they added the corn maze; and this year, they added the games.
“We have a lot of fun doing it,” Moeder said.
Although some of the students weren’t quite sure what the animals were, seeing on of the 35 alpacas was a highlight for students.
“People feed the alpaca’s when they come out,” Moeder said. “The kid’s usually stand in (the barn) instead of going out to the pumpkin patch because they want to stay and feed the animals.
“After pumpkin patch, the alpacas usually have to go on a diet.”
The patch is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Oct. 31. The cost of the corn maze is $3, the hayrack rides are $2, and games are 25 cents. Pumpkins are sold by the pound.
Golf carts are available for those who need assistance. For more information, call (785) 639-3041. Group openings are available.