It's the Great Pumpkin Time of Year

Oct 11, 2014

Nothing announces the arrival of autumn like a cheery orange pumpkin.

And there is nothing like taking your children out into a pumpkin field and letting them pick out their own. For couples, there is nothing more romantic than cuddling together on a chilly evening beneath a starry sky on a hay wagon.

This area is blessed with several pumpkin fields perfect for making a holiday out of any day of the week.

One of the most popular is Pumpkin Hollow near Piggott, Ark.

Darrell and Ellen Dalton have been farming there since 1969.  They turned it into “Pumpkin Hollow” in 1993.

This year Pumpkin Hollow has been included in USA Today’s list of “Country’s Coolest Pumpkin Patches” published October 2. Their farm was included with fourteen other venues rated as the best in the country.

mums and pumpkins (1 of 1)Ellen says the inclusion was the perfect way to kick off Pumpkin Hollow’s 22nd season.

For many area people, a trip to Pumpkin Hollow is a yearly pilgrimage.

The Daltons work hard to make sure every trip is slightly different, with more attractions to see.

One of the favorite attractions there is the cornfield maze. People thread their way through the six-acre maze day and night. A hay ride takes young and old to the maze. There is also a smaller children’s maze which is sometimes better for young children. Mazes are open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sundays, 1-6 p.m.

The Daltons’ hayride wagons are modified cotton wagons with high sides for the safety of those aboard. The wagons are also equipped with ramps for easy access, and one of the wagons is even handicapped accessible.

The children always love the Petting Zoo and Goat Walk. Watching the goats climb to the top of their barn roof, and getting to feed the goats by hand is always a treasured experience for families.

The Daltons built their Friendly Forest in 2004, to be an option for families with young children over their “Fright Night” activities. The Friendly Forest is available both on weekdays and weekends.

Another fun activity for the kids is the hay stacks and tire mountain, perfect for curious climbers.

Pumpkin Hollow also offers education for kids, not only for learning about animals in the petting zoo, but also by playing in the Hollow’s interactive area where kids can grind corn on antique grinders, and learn more about crops grown in this region.  Pedal tractors are also on hand for kids. This area closes at 6 p.m.

Things can get a bit wild for kids at the pig scramble held each Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The object is for kids to try to catch a ribbon from a pig’s tail to win a prize.

A bit more sedate are the pony rides. Five or six ponies are available for riding on a carousel. Pony rides are available on Saturdays and Sundays.

If anyone in your group gets hungry, they can dine on Hog Wild BBQ, nachos, grilled burgers, hot dogs, popcorn, as well as fresh from the patch pumpkin pie. Drinks and snacks are available and a Pumpkin Hollow favorite is their signature cider slush.

Another area favorite for pumpkin-picking is Beggs Family Farm, located on State Highway U near Sikeston. They’ve been in business since 1895.

Weather permitting, the Beggs have their farm open to visitors on Wednesdays through Saturday.

Donnie Beggs said his family works hard to make sure other families have a great time at their farm.

“We host a lot of school field trips through the week this time of year, and weekends tend to be more family time,” said Beggs.

“And many families make it a family tradition to come every year,” he said.

The Beggs Family Farm has all the attractions that many fall attractions have, but also has unique activities to offer their visitors.

“This year we’ve brought back our putt-putt golf course, and we’ve added more to our haunted house area, including a new laser arcade,” said Beggs.

Many people come to Beggs for fall décor for their homes and yards.

“This year we’re also doing a Make-Your-Own Scarecrow activity,” said Beggs. “That has been extremely popular because it such a fun thing for families to do together. And that way they have something very unique for their fall décor.”

While taking advantage of all there is to do, families can also work lunch into their schedule at Beggs.

“We’ve got five concession areas now,” said Beggs. “Everything from smoked meats to hamburgers to pizza and fried potatoes, as well as a fall favorite, kettle corn.”

Activities include the cornfield maze, wagon rides, and interaction with farm animals.

“And of course families and kids can pick out their favorite pumpkin right out of the pumpkin patch,” said Beggs.

SEMO TIMES also attempted to contact Kearbey’s Produce on AA Highway in Butler County, and Cates Orchard in Stoddard County.

Rhonda Belcher, who helps to operate the Iron Mountain Market produce stand, noted that the Kearbeys have always been extremely helpful to her.

“You just tell them what you need, and they help you out every time,” she commented. “It’s nice to have someplace close to get not just pumpkins, but just about any kind of produce you might need straight from a farmer’s field!”