By Amy L. Hatch
Where: 1749A CR 1900, Arthur, Ill.
Hours: Open Sept. 15 to Oct. 31, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Costs: Weekdays: Children under 5, free; Ages 6-12, $2; Adults, $5; Age 60 and over, $3. Weekends: Children under 5, free; Ages 6-12, $5; Adults, $7; Age 60 and over, $5. Season passes also available, see the website for more information.
Good for: All ages!
Amy’s take: Martha Stewart knows a good thing when she sees one, and when she saw the Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur, Ill. she knew she’d stumbled on something pretty spectacular.
This 200-acre farm and the family that has owned the land for six generations have been featured on Stewart’s television show more than once, thanks to the more than 400 varieties of pumpkins and gourds grown in its 70-acre patch. I recently spent a crisp, fall day at The Great Pumpkin Patch and I was amazed to learn just how world-renowned this area gem is. A walk through the farm’s oldest structure revealed photos of pumpkins and gourds from the patch piled in a colorful mountain … on the White House lawn!
It’s a bit of a hike out to Arthur, the heart of Amish country here in Illinois, but the trip is totally worth it. The family creates massive and amazing sculptures using pumpkins and other props (we happen to love the giant structure that looks like an Angry Birds board, with pumpkins and wooden crates), there are food stands that serve everything from ice cream to grilled sweet corn to fresh-cut potato chips, there’s a sweet shop, an old schoolhouse, a wagon ride through the patch, a gift shop and mazes galore.
Kids will love the animals, parents will love the gorgeous and well-priced pumpkins and everyone will love the Homestead Bakery, which sells Amish treats (including Amish peanut butter, which I highly recommend). I was on the hunt for white pumpkins this year, and I found several varieties, as well as some pink ones to go with our traditional orange. And don’t forget the mums!
If you’re hungry after all that fresh air, pop on down the road to Yoder’s Kitchen, a popular Amish restaurant that includes a buffet. But beware: Lines here can be long so be prepared to wait for a table, especially for a large party.
But even if you aren’t in the market for a jack-o-lantern, you can easily wile away a lovely afternoon exploring The Great Pumpkin Patch.