Fall Activities

Pumpkin Patch Season!!

Pumpkin patch season officially started for our family yesterday!  Our favorite time of year!  So I packed up Chicken and Nugget, along with a slightly resistant husband, and off we headed to Scio.  Yes, Scio.  Yes, we drove over an hour to go to a pumpkin patch, and yes we do have perfectly good patches much closer to home.  That actually have pumpkins (more on this later).  And it was totally worth it!

This is our third year going to Sweet Briar Train and RV Park.  Doesn’t that just scream pumpkins?  This family run business has a yearly event they are now referring to as a fall festival.  And it’s fantastic.

After making the drive, you park your car in a grassy field.  If you bring a donation of canned food, entry is $6 per person, slightly more without a food donation.  After a short walk through a wooded area and over a bridge, you arrive at the main event.  Scio is a small, rather rural town, at least compared to the Portland area, and this is an amazing small town event.  Almost everything is included in the price of entry, with the exception of food, face painting, and souvenirs.

So what is everything?  There is a train ride through the woods that passes by several little scenes, like Winnie the Pooh and his friends, a gingerbread man cottage, a tiny cemetery with silly rhymes on the headstones, and train station managed by some seriously sketchy looking (decorative) dudes.  I think Nugget rode the train five times and was still excited to find new things.   Once enough people arrive, groups of kids can put on cowboy hats and/or and “rob” the train for candy.  It’s the one time it’s adorable to see your children commit a crime.  Each year we have gone, they have made slight changes or improvements.  Each have been received well by our family.

Kids can pan for gold, and this activity is seriously stacked for kiddo success.  About the time kiddos would start to lose interest, a very sly teenager would encourage one of them to try a specific pan, and what do you know- gold would be found in that very pan!  Nugget walked away with five bits of gold and Chicken found six.  Nugget got a grin from above mentioned teen when he shouted “this is just like the stuff in a treasure chest!”

There are several small toy houses for the kids to play in, a simple mini golf course (maybe 4 or 5 “holes”), and rubber ducky races powered by water pumps (you do the pumping).  There is a photo booth with a small selection of props.  Photos are taken on an iPad and you can text yourself the photos free of charge.  Bigfoot wanders the event, posing for pictures, sneaking up on parents, taking snack breaks, and even riding the train. The family that runs the event is very present, and go out of their way to make sure everyone is having a good time.

As the park itself does not raise pumpkins, in the past they brought pumpkins in and kiddos could choose one from a large field.  This year, the family decided to take the money they typically spend on the pumpkins and purchased a 20 foot bouncy slide and a human whack-a- mole.  Let me tell you, the pumpkins were not missed one bit.  And parents- not to worry.  The human whack-a-mole “whacker” was a teen girl who was very gentle.  And honestly, most of the kids were too short to actually get their heads through the hole.

Food is reasonably priced and has been different each year we have gone.  This year, the lunch option was a corn dog with tater tots and a drink for $5.  There were many, many, snack options, as well as roasted corn for $2 an ear, and kettle corn made on site.  Two bags of kettle corn will run you $2.

I had to drag Chicken and Nugget out of there after 3. 5 hours and they happily would have stayed all day if soccer lessons hadn’t been awaiting us.

Chicken’s review:  “this one is my favorite because it is so fun and there is more stuff to do.  I don’t mind the drive.”

Nugget’s review:  “I don’t know.  Can we come back tomorrow?”

What it is: small town family fun, reasonably priced, borderline cheesy in the best possible way, located in a beautiful setting, quite muddy when it rains, a long-ish drive from the Portland area

What it is not: an actual pumpkin patch, fancy, a nutritionist’s dream menu (but isn’t eating unhealthy favorites part of the charm of an activity like this?)

Do we recommend it:  Absolutely!