A Day at the Pumpkin Patch

Seriously, how “Fall” can I get right now?

To celebrate the beginning of my very favorite season, my friends and I decided to take a trip out to the pumpkin patch. This wasn’t just any pumpkin patch, though. This was the pumpkin patch I went to as a small child. Only now, it is not so much a pumpkin patch as it is an entire Fall-related theme park.

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Me at the pumpkin patch, circa 1994

When I was a little kid, you went here to hang out and watch dysfunctional robotic scarecrows play banjo together, go through the haunted house (but I was never brave enough), and go on a hayride to the pumpkin patch, where you were allowed to pick your very own pumpkin, fresh off the vine.

They’ve expanded it a little.

There is still the janky scarecrow band, the haunted house, and the hayride, but now the pumpkin patch has practically quadrupled in size. It is now an all-day event I wasn’t entirely prepared for.

As soon as we pulled up, I knew this wouldn’t be so much a trip down memory lane, but an entirely new experience all its own. It started in the parking lot. The amount of time we spent trying to find a spot was ridiculous. We ended up parking in a distant field and hiking up to the patch and caking our shoes in mud.

Upon entering, I immediately saw that very same robotic scarecrow band. I remember as a child that they used to scare me (which everyone else pointed out to me to be extremely silly), but after seeing them again as an adult, I stand by my fear. Perhaps it was something in their lack or eyes or their jerky way of moving that really unsettled me, whether I was three or twenty-three. I could cut the nostalgia with a knife.

We decided to make a big loop around the place before ending the day picking our pumpkins. After seeing the band play we made our way over to the rabbit zoo – something even more unsettling than the band. I hate rabbits and always have – they’re too twitchy – and I hated these particular rabbits even more because they were gigantic. I would have simply passed them by if I my friends hadn’t wanted to stop.

It was time to see an attraction. Good thing we were standing right across from the Mine. Don’t worry — a sign at the entrance stated: “THIS IS NOT A SCARY ATTRACTION.” You didn’t have to tell me twice. Inside the Mine looked like something I could create in my own backyard using cardboard, styrofoam, and plenty of glitter, paint, and shitty explosion sound effects. It was truly a thing of beauty.

Further exploration had us stumbling upon a coffin that you could take pictures in:

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The sheer morbidity was not lost on me.

Even further exploration led us to an entirely new section of the pumpkin patch – a section never before experienced by me. There were dozens of games, a place where you could learn square dancing, a section where you could jump on huge, inflated pumpkins, and most importantly — the cycle kart track. They were basically go-carts that you had to pedal. It was perfect.

I don’t think I have ever fully realized how out-of-shape I am. I knew I wasn’t very healthy and should probably go to the gym more, but after going on that cycle kart, I’ve been thinking about the gym ever since. Annoying ten-year-olds were cycling circles around me. I was lapped twice. It was embarrassing.

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We all needed a break after that. And what a break we had.

After meandering in a small pumpkin patch containing huge pumpkins that weren’t for sale, we witnessed an amazing feat of physics: the Pumpkin Chunkin’ Air Cannon Show, in which a man wearing overalls stuffs a pumpkin into a canon and launches it a quarter of a mile. I was more amazed than I thought I would be.

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What else would you do in Nebraska during Fall, than go through a corn maze? I have no idea. So that’s where we headed next. Nothing of much note happened in the maze. We did get lost, and we never solved it. We definitely exited through the entrance. And we were proud.

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Women of the corn maze.

Before the sun set, we were determined to bring home our very own pumpkins. We waited in line to board the hayride and each chose well-sized, well-rounded pumpkins that were both easy to carry, and easy on the eyes. And we looked pretty good doing it.

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When it was time to go home, I found that my heart was full. Even though my face was slightly burnt and my legs felt like they were going to fall off, it was an extremely good day with friends. For once, I wasn’t thinking about my to-do list or my what I was going to do with my life. I just got to chill out and laugh and do something familiar and close to my heart. Even though all the attractions are a little outdated and strange, they still have a certain magic to them. 

On that note, someone bring me a pumpkin spice latte already.

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