Fall Activities, Pumpkin Patches

Frog Pond Farm Pumpkin Patch

Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year with the kids. Yes, summer has it charms, with its sun and lack of school. But fall is special. Fall is pumpkin patches, pie, cider, donuts, leaves, sweaters, farms, and that special glow of a gorgeous fall day. I love it all.

This year we found many of our favorite pumpkin patches had permanently or temporarily closed, or had modified this offerings. As a result, we decided to return to an old favorite but also explore new options.

After some serious Googling, we decided our first new experience would be Frog Pond Farm. As soon as they mentioned the presence of llamas, I was sold. We coordinated with another family who were also very excited about said llamas, and waited for the day to arrive. When it did, I tried to squash my grumpiness about the downpour taking place that morning. I refused to let a little water ruin our day! Are we not Oregonians?!?

Located on the outskirts of Wilsonville, it was an easy drive from our area. And much drier. Turns out my Oregon battle cry was a bit unnecessary as it was an absolutely gorgeous day and not even a smidge damp.

Our adventure began as soon as we pulled into the parking lot and saw a chicken roaming loose. Commence the excited shrieks of children. We got everyone unloaded and paid our $10 entry fee and paid an addition $5 for a large cup of animal feed. We turned the corner and were greeted with an open play area. The boys were instantly drawn to the basketball hoops hung on the barn wall, a large net to throw/kick balls into, corn hole, and other sporty endeavors. The girls immediately gravitated to the alpacas, doneys, emus, goats, etc. that were surrounding the area and separated from visitors by fencing. There were also water-pump rubber duck races and a small tube maze.

After playing in that area for a long time, we continued on and found a panning for treasure (little colored pebbles) station that the kids enjoyed. There was also a hay bale pyramid, lots of bouncy horses, large tubes to use like a hamster wheel, photo opportunities, kid sized backhoe diggers, coffee, treats, and food. Food options included tacos, fried cheese curds, corn dogs, grilled cheese, ice cream, burgers, and drinks. Most were around $5, although the burger was more. This area also entertained us all for quite a while. Then we spotted the camels. We had to go see the camels!

Our group carried on down the path, passing pigs, geese, camels, and other fun critters. You pass under large power lines, and the kids were all excited to hear the crackling of electricity. This took us to a final area, which had more tube slides, a fence maze, and a huge tennis ball sling shot range. The sling shot was a HUGE hit, and we spent a very long time flinging tennis balls at a variety of targets. The kids got very creative, lying on the ground and creating human chains trying to figure out ways to increase their power and get the balls to really fly.

Although signs encouraged visitors to drive to the pumpkin patch to make loading the pumpkins into their cars easier, we chose to walk over since we weren’t planning on getting pumpkins. I bet you can guess what happened. We got a pumpkin and had to walk it all the way back. Lesson learned.

The patch had small to midsized pumpkins spread around the large, fenced in area. But the pumpkins were definitely not the stars of the show. It was the alpacas! There were approximately 20 alpacas wandering freely, and it was so fun! While they were a bit shy, they were more than willing to check and see if you had any feed for them and some seemed to enjoy posing for pictures. Many, many pictures. One in particular wasn’t very selective about his food and tried to munch my sweater, Chicken’s hair, and my backpack. They rest had more respect for our personal space. But they were all sweet, soft, quirky, and silly. Interacting with them was a highlight of the visit for sure.

We wound up spending about 5 hours playing, and probably could have stayed even longer. It was definitely money well spent!

Frog Pond Farm also have an evening Spooky Farm Trail, which we did not participate in. My kids are still traumatized from a previous haunted house and I don’t think they will EVER venture into something labeled ‘spooky’ or ‘haunted’ again. But the online info makes it look fun, and it may be worth a try if you are braver than we are!

Soooo…..

What it’s not: a place to purchase giant pumpkins

What it is: fun, gorgeous setting, a unique way to interact with a variety of animals- especially alpacas, a great value, a fantastic way to spend a fall day as a family, competitively priced pumpkins (ours was $9)

Do we recommend it? Yes! Most definitely! We had so much fun and will absolutely be returning in future years!

If you miss the fall festivities, they also have a Christmas tree farm in the winter and traditional farm tours late spring through early September.

You can check out their information here: https://www.thefrogpondfarm.com/visit-the-farm

Fall Activities, Outdoor Activities, Pumpkin Patches

Bauman’s Harvest Festival

This year two of our favorite pumpkin patches were closed, so we were on the hunt for a new place to go. Going to the pumpkin patch is one of our favorite activities of the year, so I wanted to find something good. After quite a bit of googling, note taking, and discussion (hey, nothing wrong with a little research!), we landed on Bauman’s Harvest Festival. And it was a hit! Hold on to your hats- the sheer amount of activities is resulting in quite a long post!

Bauman’s Harvest Festival is in Gervais, Oregon and was a bit over half an hour from our Portland suburb. Parking is free and rows are marked with decorated hay bale, both of which were appreciated.

After a short walk, we found ourselves at the ticket booths. There was a cash only line and a card line, and both moved fairly quickly. You have the option of a general admission ($8), which includes entry to the festival and some of the most basic activities. For $20 you can get an unlimited wristband, which allows you to do all of the activities as many times as you want. You also have the option of buying general admission and then paying for activities individually, but it seems like this wouldn’t make much financial sense in most cases. There are slight discounts for families of four or more. It is also slightly cheaper during the week, although not all activities are available on weekdays. I bought Chicken and Nugget wristbands and general admission for myself, and this worked out well for us.

Chicken and Nugget spotted the swing line as soon as we walked in and went straight to it. The swing line is a combination of a swing and a zip line- a swing is hooked to a long line and the kids ride it from one end to the other. Both kids LOVED it. Well, eventually. Nugget stood in line, made it to the top, and then came running down to watch Chicken. He wanted to make sure nothing bad happened to her before he risked it himself. Since she survived, he gave it a go. They did that ride over and over and over.

Next up was a simple hay maze, a hill to climb up with various slides down, and then apple cannons. Only Nugget did the cannon, which involved a worker putting an apple in a very long tube attached to some sort of machine. Using one had and a shoulder to try and cover his ears, Nugget pulled the trigger and sent the apple flying- way over the rows of targets he was trying to hit. He was pretty pleased with himself.

There were plenty of food options and they were reasonably priced for the setting. We first headed indoors to the main food area that had items such as baked potatoes, chili, corn dogs, hot dogs, soft pretzels, and the like. We stood in line for a few minutes before making a change in plans. This area is also home to music and entertainment, which while fun, was LOUD. Too loud for us. We went back outside and purchased apple cider slushies which were AMAZING!! We highly recommend them. Then we hopped over to the outside food vending area. Nugget got a corn dog, which was like all other corndogs. Chicken and I got street style tacos and they were surprisingly yummy! They come plain but there is a little salad-type bar where you can add toppings of your choice. We also got an order of curly fries. It was huge and even the three of us couldn’t finish it all! The fun part of this was we got to watch them use a potato spiralizer to cut fresh fries, resulting in a nice curly fry treat! There were plenty of other treats, like pumpkin donuts, ice cream, warm sodas, and even more.

With full bellies, we were off to more fun. This included a slide, a barrel train, an obstacle course, pedal carts, bouncy house, and much much more.

Once we were sufficiently worn out, we decided to go pick out our pumpkin. The pumpkin field is near the parking lot, and pumpkins are sold by weight. I did like that they had a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors of pumpkins. Chicken has a soft spot for wonky pumpkins, and she had her pick of the litter. Nugget prefers a perfectly round classic pumpkin, and there were plenty for him as well. Unfortunately, there were many, many pumpkins that had been smashed or were beginning to rot, so it took a bit of hunting to find our perfect pumpkins.

We spent about six hours there and did not do all of the activities. It is a great way to spend a beautiful fall day. We had a fantastic time and we would go back again. The only reason I may prefer other pumpkin patches, is that this festival’s activities are definitely geared toward children. Which meant a lot of parents watching their children play rather than families playing together. But sometimes there is joy in watching your littles have fun on their own, so this is not necessarily a bad thing.

What it’s not: the best place for pumpkins (at least during the part of the season we went), economical

What it is: fun, well planned, family friendly, a place you can spend the entire day, a good value but not necessarily cheap

More details can be found here: https://baumanshf.com/activities/

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!