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Fall in Central Texas: local pumpkin patch shows off fall colors, hosts kids activities

Email   Print   Share By Rachel Parks, Sentinel Leisure Editor
October 14, 2010 | Leisure
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Pumpkins of all shapes and sizes are available at the farm. There are also activities families can take part in including pumpkin painting and hayrides. The farm is open on weekends throughout October. Rachel Parks, Sentinel Leisure Editor
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People pick out the pumpkins they want at a shop on the grounds. A variety of pumpkins is available for sale and there are a number of family-friendly events at the farm.
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AnnaBelle Short, 18 months, approaches a cow in the petting zoo area of the Silo Pumpkin Patch. The petting zoo also features goats and a llama.
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Andrew Kessler, 3, paints a pumpkin at the Silo Pumpkin Patch in Temple. The farm is open on weekends through October and features a variety of family-friendly activities.
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Children and parents wait for the kiddie train ride to start. Visitors can also visit a petting zoo, paint pumpkins or take a hayride at the farm.
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Kids play in a pile of hay at the farm. This is the fourth year for the pumpkin patch. There are a variety of activities at the farm, including a hayride.
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A variety of pumpkins and other fall decorations are available for purchase at the farm. Family-friendly events include a petting zoo and a hayride. The pumpkin patch is open on weekends in October.
TEMPLE – The chill of fall is starting to creep into the air in Central Texas. I love the fall months. I spent most of my childhood in the small town of Osage, Iowa. The town is also known as “The City of Beautiful Maples” and in October the trees change to a variety of brilliant colors and jack o’lanterns adorn front steps, porches and patios.

Growing up there started my life-long love of all things autumn. I was driving on I-35 recently when I noticed a billboard for a pumpkin patch. I figured it would make a good Traveling Soldier column and would allow me to do some pumpkin shopping so I headed out there with a friend to check out the farm.

The pumpkin patch is located on the Silo Christmas Tree Farm. The farm is in Temple and started as a dairy farm years ago. Owners Bob and Marilyn Garber moved to the farm in the early 1970s. They started inviting the public to the farm to cut their own Christmas trees about 10 years ago and the pumpkin patch has been in existence for four years.

Visitors will find a farm with well-tended gardens, hundreds of Christmas trees, a variety of family-friendly activities, and a tent with pumpkins and other decorations for sale. The pumpkins onsite aren’t grown at the farm. Bob said there is only one site in Texas that has the proper soil and temperature for growing pumpkins. It’s located near Lubbock, in the small town of Floydada. The town is known as “Pumpkin Capital U.S.A.”

The pumpkins at the farm in Temple are trucked in from that location. There are about a dozen different varieties of pumpkins to choose from. The pumpkins range in size from mini varieties to giant pumpkins. The biggest pumpkins are known as “Prizewinners.” This variety of pumpkin can reach massive proportions. They generally weigh anywhere between 50 and 300 pounds.

Some of the other pumpkin varieties include jack o’lanterns, Cinderellas, Fairy Tales and Crystal Stars. The Crystal Star pumpkins are pure white and pretty cool looking.

Regardless of what you’re looking for, if you’re searching for pumpkins for carving, cooking in pies or decorating, you can probably find something that will fit the bill here. In addition to the pumpkins, there are gourds, Indian corn and corn stalks for sale for all your decorating needs. I know in my neighborhood, several people have already decorated their houses for Halloween. All the decorations went up right at the beginning of the month. I’m not sure if that’s a Texas thing or what, but I like it.

Admission to the farm is free as is parking. Monetary donations are accepted as are cans of food. The money and canned food benefit the Helping Hands Ministry, a non-profit agency in Belton.

In addition to the pumpkins for sale, there are a variety of fun and family-friendly activities to take part in at the farm. There is a petting corral, filled with docile goats, cows and even a llama. There is also a hayride, a kiddie train for the youngest visitors, a hay pile to jump in, pumpkin painting and a duck race.

You can take part in the activities by purchasing tickets and using them as payment. A hayride requires three tickets, which cost a dollar. Pumpkin painting and feeding the petting zoo animals also require three tickets. A full list of prices for the events can be found on the website. The prices are reasonable.

Both the pumpkin painting and the petting corral were popular events the day I was there. Toddlers and kids were having a great time following the goats around the pen, patting them on the head and feeding them treats.

The pumpkin painting takes place on the porch of the gift shop. Kids get to pick out the perfect pumpkin; the paints and protective smocks are provided. There are several staff members on hand to help the kids out and make sure everyone gets a turn. The pumpkins are set out to dry in the sun and are ready to go when you are.

Inside the gift shop there are a wide range of items for purchase. There were homemade soaps, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, candles, salsa, jam and jelly, canvas tote bags and even homemade apple pies and other bakery items. Bob proudly pointed out that everything for sale is made in the U.S. Many items are made in Texas. He also mentioned that the farm is well on its way to becoming a green establishment. You might notice the huge water tank by the pumpkin tent where the Garbers collect rainwater to be put to use on the farm.

While I was there, I took part in a hayride. I figured I would have a hard time fitting into the child-sized chairs at the pumpkin painting area so the hayride offered an interesting alternative. Everyone in my group piled into a wagon filled with fragrant hay bales and we were toted around the farm by a friendly employee on a John Deere tractor.

The hayride isn’t too long, but we did stop a few times and learn some interesting facts about the history of the farm and the Christmas trees.

There’s also a duck race. No one was participating the day I was there but the whole idea is to pump water as fast as you can into a trough, moving a toy duck to the finish line. Bob said the farm gets busier as the month goes on. Last year about 10,000 people visited the farm on weekends leading up to Halloween. He added that he and his wife have a great time opening their farm to families. “It’s just all about kids having fun,” he said.

There are a few locations around the farm where there are hay bales and pumpkins set up in a display. You’re welcome to bring a camera and take some family photos or explore the grounds and practice your nature photography.

The pumpkin patch is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each weekend through the end of the month. For more information, including prices and directions, visit www.silochristmastreefarm.com.
 
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