Pumpkin Paradise gives a taste of fall and family fun
Pumpkins are synonymous with fall.
One place those living in the Garden City area can find pumpkins is at Pumpkin Paradise, northeast of Sublette.
The pumpkin patch is open only on Saturdays and Sundays from 2 p.m. through 7 p.m. from Sept. 25 to Oct. 31.
Weekday trips are available by appointment only for school field trips.
Janet Weidner, co-owner of the patch with her husband, Steve Weidner, said the pumpkin patch itself began in 2002, however they did begin selling pumpkins in 1994 at a card table on Main St. in Sublette.
"Sublette's first grade would come out and pick them, I always think there's two dates that we started," she said. "But our friends kept telling us to open a patch, so we did in 2002 and we just loved it."
Pumpkin growing started as a hobby, to have pumpkins for themselves, but grew from there, Weidner said. The first time they grew pumpkins they were planted near the center of one of their farm's sprinklers so they would have enough water.
When they opened to the public the patch was a half acre of pumpkins right behind their house with a half acre corn maze, Weidner said. It kept growing over the years and eventually had to be moved across the street to have enough parking for people. The patch is now 12 acres with a 4-acre corn maze that gets rotated from one area in the field to another year to year to give the land a rest, but stays in the same field.
In addition to growing in size, Pumpkin Paradise has added activities and attractions for a whole day of fall family fun.
Some of the activities and attractions include bean bag toss, tether ball, limbo, Bat the Rat, human foosball, duck races, checkers with pumpkins, no-left-turn brain teaser maze and a red-white-and-blue maze.
They also have a catapult demonstration and wagon ride and little play houses for children to run in and out of, including a jail they can escape from.
Additionally, they have a Guess the Weight of their largest pumpkin for a chance to win the "sasquatch." The person who comes the closest to guessing the weight wins the pumpkin and it will be delivered to them the Friday before Halloween.
Many varieties of pumpkins are available at the patch, Weidner said. They plant lots of varieties of unusual pumpkins including red, white, blue, pink, yellow, brown and striped pumpkins as well as lumpy pumpkins, miniature pumpkins, miniature gourds, squash and giant squash.
"What did us proud this year, and they will last to the end of season, are our orange, just the field variety carving pumpkins got really big this year," she said. "They're just beautiful, we're really proud of them."
Not all of the varieties are still available this close to Halloween, but there are still plenty, Weidner said. The biggest selection is early in the month, but there's always something available.
"The really fancy ones when they're gone, I feel bad, but you know what, people come every weekend we're open and sometimes we're busiest towards the end because they come to play the games and run in the maze and then there's always some orange pumpkins out there for them, they always come back with a wheelbarrow load of pumpkins," she said.
Weidner said she loves running the pumpkin patch.
"I've had lots of jobs and done different things and I've never dealt with the public where they just came to relax and play," she said. "It's just a whole different atmosphere, which I just love."
Her favorite part about the fall season is seeing all of the families come out to visit.
"I walk through and just hear the voices and just loved hearing the conversations all around me," she said. "It just makes me feel good that everybody comes here to have a good time."
Sandi Lucas come to Pumpkin Paradise every year and always has fun.
"The kids like to do the mazes and they like to pick the pumpkins out, the duck races and then guessing the big pumpkin of course," she said. "They have a good price for coming out here, we've been to a lot of pumpkin patches, I used to live in Kansas City, so it's a good price, it's not too expensive and they have a lot of stuff to do."
Gabriella Rodriguez also enjoys coming out to the patch with her family. Her first time to the patch was on a day trip with one of her children.
She came to the patch with her family and daughter's best friend on Sept. 16.
"We're having a blast, the kids are playing in the dirt and we're having fun," she said. "I love the pumpkins and I love the atmosphere."
Rodriguez said she and her family are big pumpkin carvers, so it's nice to be able to find some good pumpkins with her family.
"It's a tradition of ours that I started with my family, I used to do it with my brothers and sisters, and then I just brought it into my immediate family now, my kids and my husband," she said. "It's fun, it's a great time of just getting together, telling stories, reminiscing, it's really nice."
She plans to return to Pumpkin Paradise in the future.
"We just llove Pumpkin Paradise and we hope that they keep doing this for years to come so I can bring my grandkids out here one day," she said.
Only cash or check is accepted, no credit cards.