It goes without saying that 2020 has been crazy. In a year where virtually everything has changed and uncertainty is commonplace - it’s comforting to know that some things are still the same. Pumpkin picking is one family-friendly activity in ILLINOISouth that remains available for folks to enjoy regardless of the times.
Hundreds of thousands of people have a tradition this time of year, which revolves around visiting a pumpkin patch with their loved ones. Illinois is the perfect place to do that because the Land of Lincoln is the top producer of pumpkins in the United States, with over 500 million pounds of pumpkins produced.
There are over a dozen such places in ILLINOISouth to get your pumpkin fix!
Pick your own pumpkins are available at Pumpkin Blossom Hill, but there will be a limited selection due to weather this summer. Masks are required when speaking with staff, as well as when you’re inside shopping. Masks are not required while outdoors, but highly encouraged if social distancing isn’t possible. Kettle corn will still be sold on the weekends, and the pumpkin launcher will still be operated as well. For more information on hours and other details, visit https://www.pumpkinblossomhill.com/
There aren’t many places that celebrate fall fun like Schoenbeck Ranch. They have hay rides, a corn maze, a petting zoo, pumpkin bowling, a barrel car train and more! Admission is six dollars, and pony rides are four bucks. Pumpkins and food are available for purchase, and masks are encouraged but not required. For more information, find Schoenbeck Ranch on Facebook.
Now entering their fifth season, Possum Patch Farms in Olney officially opens on October 3rd. There are several changes for this season, including some good news that no admission will be charged in 2020. Possum Patch has announced that the indoor play arena, animal petting area, and the bounce pad will be closed this year. The General Store and kitchen will be open, but with a limited menu. Pumpkins will no doubt be plentiful, and there will be corn maze tickets for purchase as well. For more info, you can find Possum Patch Farms on Facebook.
For a simple and quick trip to purchase pumpkins, apples and other goodies that have already been picked - head out to Grissom’s Lost Creek Orchard in Cumberland County! They’re open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 6pm and on Sunday from 10am to 6pm.
It goes without saying that Eckert’s is one of the most popular places in ILLINOISouth for pick-your-own pumpkins, along with a plethora of other activities. Aside from pumpkins, apples are also in full swing for picking at both the Belleville and Millstadt locations.
Other family fun includes camel rides, which are available on the weekends. If you make the trip to the Millstadt Fun Farm there are SO many things to experience including a petting zoo, pig races, a pumpkin canon, a 12-acre corn trail and much more. Eckert’s is taking the proper social distance precautions and allowing a certain amount of visitors to pick pumpkins and apples in 30 minute time slots. To ensure you get the time slot of your choice, visit https://www.eckerts.com to purchase a field pass. Happy picking!
One of the longest running farms in ILLINOISouth, Relleke Farms in Madison County has been going strong since the late 1800’s. Walk out to one of two pick-your-own pumpkin patches at Relleke, along with an array of activities during the weekend; including a jungle maze, an obstacle course, a pumpkin chucker and pumpkin painting. Masks are encouraged, especially for times when social distancing isn’t possible. For more information, visit Relleke online at http://www.rellekepumpkinpatch.com/about-us.html
Whether it’s a pick-your-own pumpkin or a wide selection of pumpkins that have already been picked, Scharf Farm in Millstadt has everything you need for fall. Once you arrive you’ll be greeted by bundled corn stalks, straw bales and chickens roaming around. The farm location is open Monday through Saturday from 9-6 and Sunday from 10-5.
For generations, this family farm has become a fan favorite in Belleville. Braeutigam has plenty of room to roam for pick-your-own pumpkins and apples. No reservations are required, but masks and social distancing are both highly encouraged. Their new and improved bakery is now open, with delicious treats including apple cider donuts! Braeutigam Orchard is open Monday through Saturday from 8pm to 6pm, and from 9am to 5pm on Sunday. You can find them on Facebook for up to date information.
If you’re looking for a place to pass a few hours outdoors, Country Kids Pumpkin Patch is just the place! There are 20 outdoor related games and activities from a corn maze to a scavenger hunt, and of course...pumpkin picking! Indoor activities are not open this year. Masks are currently not required at Country Kids, and school visits are welcome - but only one at a time. For more information, go to http://www.countrykidspumpkinpatch.com
If you make a trip to Fayette County this fall, Happy Hollow Farms in Saint Elmo is definitely worth a stop! Open from 11am to 4pm every Saturday and Sunday; Happy Hollow has pick-your-own pumpkins, as well as a nature walk, corn maze and more. For more info you can find Happy Hollow Farms on Facebook.
Another great place in ILLINOISouth to pick out a pumpkin (or seven) is Streif’s Country Market in Flora. They’re open on Fridays from 4-6pm and from 9am-6pm on Saturday and Sunday. Streif’s is a GREAT place for not only pumpkins, but mums as well. Social distancing is required during your visit, and masks are only required while inside the main building. Please find Streif’s on Facebook for any other up to date information.
This family owned and operated business has become a must-visit for folks in and around Wayne County. New hours were implemented this year in an effort to help spread out crowds. You can visit Shreve’s Monday - Saturday from 9am-7pm and on Sunday from 12pm-7pm. Aside from pumpkin picking, Shreve’s also has a wonderful corn maze - and they are still offering hayrides, but at half capacity to account for social distancing. You can follow Shreve’s Pumpkin Patch on Facebook!
For a whole fun-filled day around pumpkins and activities, make a trip to Schaefer Pumpkin Patch in Fayette County! Admission is $6 and includes hay rides, barrel rides, a straw maze, a corn pit, slides and a petting zoo. Pumpkin painting and a corn maze are both available at an additional cost. Of course, both u-pick and pre-picked pumpkins are available to purchase as well. For more information, be sure to find Schaefer Pumpkin Patch on Facebook!
***FEATURE PHOTO CREDIT*** - Morgan Brooks