Photo by Chung Chow
Fresh air is healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthy. Pumpkins are healthy, so it follows that pumpkin patches are very healthy.
Sure it’s a place to have healthy fall fun but, more importantly, it’s a place to make memories. For over three decades, Richmond Country Farm’s Pumpkin Patch on Steveston Highway has made memories for the families of the Lower Mainland.
Running Oct. 7 to the end of the month, it’s more than just a place to pick up a Hallowe’en pumpkin.
The patch offers hayrides with live musicians to lead the sing-along on the way to the corn maze and pumpkin fields.
City children who have missed the delight of playing on straw bales can climb, jump and hide to their hearts’ content in the hay barn while being serenaded by skilled professional musicians on the stage in the heart of the farm.
The stage performers are award-winners in their serious, professional lives. They easily slip, incognito, into their pumpkin patch roles and names for the month of October. For instance, Barndance Bev has been a regular on Once Upon a Time and has a one-woman show coming up at Gateway this year.
Rooster Rev has managed the entertainment at the patch for 28 years. She says the roster of musicians varies throughout the month because they have serious gigs they need to work around. For instance, the fiddle player in past years has been a national award winner and host of country music awards. These highly-skilled musicians and performers revel in delighting small children with corny humour and pumpkin-themed songs.
“The [patch’s] owners are wonderful people,” says Rooster Rev. “They’ve been doing it for about 30 years. It started out with just one wagon and a horse pulling some people. It was a very short ride. It’s definitely come a long way.”
Today there are animals to see on the way in, though “It’s not a petting zoo,” cautions Rooster Rev.
Visitors are often greeted at the entrance with a real rooster crowing, a pumpkin queen waving her wand and occasionally a wandering pumpkin princess. On weekends with good weather, there are also a train to ride and a place to purchase snacks. Rooster Rev suggests riding the train first so you don’t have to cart a pumpkin along.
After a sing-along ride on the hay wagon, there’s a corn maze, and an actual field to wander about in while children, big and small, choose the perfect pumpkin to take home. Boots are usually advised for all because rain can make the fields muddy.
Each child receives a fresh apple upon returning from the ride to the pumpkin. Some kids hang out and enjoy the band complete with dancing corn and pumpkin.
Youngsters can dance; they can watch; they can sit or, more deliciously, the adults can sit and enjoy the band while the kids wear off more energy playing within watching distance in the nearby hay barn.
After the pumpkin patch, there’s still the farm market where there’s home-grown corn as well as a host of other healthy fresh fruits and vegetables.
At the very least, families go home from the patch with glowing cheeks, an apple, a pumpkin, a tune in their heart and many memories for the years ahead.