I’ve made a sport out of being the anti-patch gal this month but the truth is, even I know that fun can be found at pumpkin patches in our area. And in the spirit of true confessions, I have visited pumpkin patches this year and I’ve even enjoyed myself. But there are rules to pumpkin patch visits, just like Fight Club.
The first rule of Pumpkin Patch Fight Club – go early. This is particularly true if you, like moi, cannot stand crowded events and obnoxious parents who treat the event like a babysitter. My patience is running on empty these days so in order to avoid an inappropriate altercation that makes everyone uncomfortable (I particularly cannot stand the unattended MoonBounce at Butler’s Orchard and the parents who let their kids stay in the MoonBounce for an eternity while the line grows longer and longer of line-weary toddlers), I prefer to arrive at the patch precisely when they open and get out before noon, when the crowd really starts swelling. The ideal day for this outing is Sunday because so many people are at Church on Sunday morning, so I beat the crowds by going then.
The second rule of Pumpkin Patch Fight Club – pack your patience. If your kids are anything like mine, just because you have them dressed up in
Halloween themed outfits and can stage the perfect autumnal photo op for the holiday cards, photo albums or Grandparent gifts, doesn’t mean the kid cares about your efforts or will smile, let alone both look at the camera at the same time. Know this going into it and it makes it slightly more bearable. Or just give up and don’t even attempt it.
The third rule of Pumpkin Patch Fight club – snacks. By 9:45am on our pumpkin patch outing, after enduring countless queries for a snack, despite my lectures that if they’d just eat their breakfast, they wouldn’t be hungry for snack, my husband turns to me and says “Maybe next time we just take them to 7-11.” Amen brother. Maybe.
So what patches do I frequent?
This year we visited Larriland in Woodbine, MD for the first time and absolutely loved it. My husband said “I will not go to Butlers again but I will go to a place called Larriland.” And off we went. Just over the border into Howard County, and well worth the trek, Larriland offers a less commercialized and more authentic pumpkin patch experience than the larger (and more expensive) productions in our area like Butlers or Cox. The flip side is I would venture to guess Larriland is less appealing to older kids seeking more adventure and options. My girls loved the 20 minute hayride through the “Spooky Forest” complete with historical figures with pumpkin heads on the approach to the forest, and fictional characters ranging from the crew from Winnie the Pooh to Harry Potter to Shrek, throughout the forest. At 3.95 a person (be sure to purchase your hayride tickets in the red barn before heading down for the hayride), it was definitely worth the price. Also, unlike many other area patches, they continuously run the hayrides at Larriland so I never noticed the line swelling while we were there. The “Boo Barn” was also cute for the very little ones, albeit a short experience at $2 a ticket for the kids. The maze was a real highlight for us, my younger one loved chasing her older sister and it was a great workout for me trying to keep up with where they were turning. They also offer an array of fruits and vegetables to pick at Larriland through the summer and fall, so I will likely head up there next summer.
Speaking of picking fruit, I do love apple picking. And every fall we take the girls to Homestead Farms in Poolesville, MD to pick 30lbs of apples that we really don’t need. A few years ago, on our first trip to Homestead, we naively showed up late morning and had to mill about the parking lot, stalking families emptying their wheelbarrows, in order to score a wheelbarrow for our own picking. It was that experience that profoundly altered my entire approach to “fall fun” in Washington DC. Somehow having to loiter in a parking lot for a wheelbarrow felt so contrarian to the images of farms and orchard picking I’d conjured up in my head before arriving.
And all of this brings me to the final rule of fight club, try to avoid heading to the patch without your manny, especially when heading to one of these patches with a group of friends. If you’d like time to chat, be sure to bring them, and if your manny is out of town for the weekend, well then you can just rely on the other friend’s manny. It’s possible I was quite busy running my mouth with the sister wives on this particular apple picking adventure.