It’s pumpkin time!
Area fall traditions are a go
For many in the Fort Dodge area, a trip to Community Orchard, 2237 160th St., is an autumn tradition. From picking apples in the orchard to selecting that perfect orange pumpkin in the pumpkin patch to laughing and having fun on the Back 40 playground, there’s something for the whole family.
The orchard is preparing for its annual Apple Fest celebration, which will be held the weekends of Oct. 3-4, Oct. 10-11 and Oct. 17-18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Owners Greg and Bev Baedke have had at least part ownership of the orchard since the 1980s and obtained full ownership in 1990. According to Greg Baedke, Apple Fest has been a fall staple for the orchard for decades.
“I think it’s a kind of drawing card for the community,” Greg Baedke said. “We’re pretty diversified — we have the apples, we also do lunches, the bakery, the gift shop and then the Back 40 playground. There’s pretty much always something for somebody to do.”
The visitors are Greg Baedke’s favorite part of Apple Fest every year.
“Just to see the kids and parents go out and find that pumpkin or play here in the Back 40, just having a good time with a smile on their face and just having fun,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for.”
The orchard will remain open through Dec. 22. The Back 40 playground remains open through Oct. 31 and rides to the pumpkin patch will still be available on the weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the end of October.
Twin Lakes Bible Camp’s Pumpkinfest
For the next five weekends, families and visitors from all over the area are invited to Pumpkinfest at Twin Lakes Bible Camp, 7718 Twin Lakes Road, Manson.
The annual event started several years ago as a Halloween alternative for kids, camp executive director Scott Larsen said.
“The first couple years were really, really modest and people responded with, ‘Wow this is awesome, our kids love it,'” he said. “So every year we just add stuff and it’s kind of gotten to be a pretty big deal.”
Pumpkinfest will run today and Sunday and continue Oct. 3-4, Oct. 10-11, Oct. 17-18 and Oct. 24-25. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $5 per person.
Kids and adults of all ages can enjoy a wide variety of games and activities, including a corn maze, the
pumpkinpatch, kiddy zipline, a barrel train, pumpkin cannon, ninja obstacle course and more.
New this year, Larsen said, is a “pumpkin run.”
“Basically it’s a human-sized hamster wheel,” he explained.
There will be a 5K and 10K race on Oct. 10 at 8 a.m.
“I think the thing that people love the most about (Pumpkinfest) is the experiential, homemade ice cream and making apple cider with the old fashioned apple grinder,” Larsen said. “I think for families, it’s just a slower pace, lots of activities that create an experience and make memories.”
Last year, about 1,400 people attended the Pumpkinfest.
There will be a Pumpkinfest special needs event today, where children with disabilities and their families can enjoy the festivities when the area is quieter and much less crowded. The special needs event will run from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Concessions and a gift shop where visitors can purchase pumpkins and more will also be available.
Pumpkins and Ponies
The 15th annual Pumpkins and Ponies will be Oct. 10 and Oct. 11 at SpringVale Farm, 2603 Lone Tree Road outside Humboldt. On Saturday, the hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Farm owner Lonnie Larson said she and her husband have offered pony rides on their farm for many years. One year, when Larson’s husband was experimenting with raising pumpkins, the couple set aside land for a pumpkin patch and “they were very prolific,” she said.
“That fall we thought what will we do with all these pumpkins?” she said. That’s when the idea to host an event to offer wagon rides to the pumpkin patch and pony rides was born.
“The first year was pretty simple, but we had a pretty big crowd and they seemed to enjoy themselves,” Larson said. From there, the event grew to include other activities throughout the day, and eventually Pumpkins and Ponies spread into a two-day event.
The farm will offer wagon rides to the pumpkin patch and pumpkins of all sizes will be available for purchase.
“We do a variety of all kinds of pumpkins, colors and sizes, but they’re very reasonably priced,” Larson said. “We want people to not have to worry about what they can afford to get and what they can’t.”
There will be a petting zoo and pony rides.
The Des Moines River Valley Antique Tractor and Engine Club will host a plowing contest, weather permitting.
Dragon Fire Dancing Horses will be performing throughout both days. Live music will be by the Nedd Freeley Funn Band.
There will be vendors offering a variety of items from baked goods to honey to kettle corn to caramel apples and more.
The Larsons encourage attendees to follow CDC guidelines and follow social distancing to help lower the risk of COVID-19 spread.
Admission to the event and parking are both free.