It’s that time of year again – autumn, a time that calls for cozy sweaters, warm apple cider and visiting a pumpkin patch with your loved ones. This past week I was able to go to Carolyn’s Country Cousins Pumpkin Patch – only six miles from campus.
My friend Charlene Noble, sophomore psychological science and elementary education major, and I visited Carolyn’s Country Cousins Pumpkin Patch on a Thursday. Because we went on a weekday, we missed some of the popular weekend events like the corn maze, but the tradeoff was that the pumpkin patch wasn’t nearly as populated as it would have been on a weekend. We saw our fair share of field trips of younger kids as the day pressed on, but for the most part we were able to enjoy most of what the patch had to offer because we didn’t feel rushed or crowded. Yes, there were a lot of young kids, but that’s to be expected.
Admission was $12 plus tax, which I found to be quite pricey for the patch not even being fully open. If you’re in a group of five people or more the price drops to $10 a person, which isn’t much of an improvement. These costs are just for weekdays as well – tickets cost $14 Friday through Sunday.
In addition, the food was expensive. Hotdogs, sandwiches and burgers average about $6 or $7 each. Drinks were also pretty pricey, with a 12 ounce blended apple cider sold for $3. I bought a bag of kettle corn for $6, which I found to be well worth the price. It’s been a week since I’ve gone, and I’m still eating it. We weren’t able to try the pies, donuts, or fudge – which seem to be the best selling bakery items – but the reviews online for these products seemed to be high. I think it’s worth it to give them a try.
I read a few Yelp reviews and stumbled across an explanation for the overpricing of tickets and extra costs for the corn maze and train ride. Carolyn’s Country Cousins Pumpkin Patch employs over 100 people and their prices are comparable to pumpkin patches on a similar caliber as themselves.
It’s possible to bypass some of these costs with a Platinum Pass, which does cost extra, but includes some of those additional activities for a lower price than if you paid for all of them separately. Depending on which Platinum Pass you purchase, you can get an included pumpkin donut, a ticket for the train and a bag of feed for the animals. Noble and I paid for general admission.
Once you get past the admissions gate and are greeted by the warm, homey smell of the bakery, things start to look up. While I don’t think the festivities were worth a $12 standard weekday ticket – and no children’s admission price – I certainly had a good time. With admission came a small wooden token that could be exchanged for a ride on the carousel. Noble and I managed to ride the carousel before many of the field trips arrived, but when we passed by the carousel a few hours later, it was clear that the children were having an amazing time.
Speaking of children, let’s examine the places the children seemed to have the most fun. There were slides and play parks dotted around the perimeter of the patch, all of which offered a unique autumn theme. In addition to this, there were also animal pens. It wasn’t a petting zoo, but you could purchase feed at the admissions barn to give to the goats. There were also alpacas, llamas, rabbits and hens. Pedal bikes shaped like tractors were another popular attraction. We weren’t able to watch any shows at the small amphitheater because we were there so early in the day, but I imagine that this would also be popular. The corn maze was only a weekend feature, but it sports over 10 miles of trails and looked to be quite fun.
Now let’s get to the part everyone’s been waiting for – the actual pumpkin patch. To get to the patch properly you must board a tractor ride that takes you on a ride 10 minutes away from the main area and straight to the fields. Once you got to the picking site, there were pumpkins as far as the eye could see. The smallest ones were closer to the drop-off point, so you had to trek for a little while to get to the biggest pumpkins.
Many pumpkins are still on their vines, meaning they’re quite fresh. However, there are a large amount of rotted, warted, or discolored pumpkins among the patch, but that’s to be expected when you pick the pumpkins yourself. If you don’t like any of those pumpkins, there are piles and piles of perfect pumpkins of all sizes near the exit of the main area.
Those are the perfect pumpkins, but you won’t get the experience of picking it yourself. Small pumpkins start at $3, so they’re also quite pricey. Unless you really want the experience of picking your own pumpkin with your loved ones, I recommend going to HyVee down the road and getting a large pumpkin for something like $2.
All things considered, I think that Carolyn’s Country Cousins Pumpkin Patch is a great way to spend a day with friends or family. It’s only about six miles away from campus, and it’s the closest pumpkin patch I could find. While the prices are quite staggering, I still think the large amount of activities for all ages at least partially make up for the fact that my wallet is now empty. Grab your friends and family and head down to Carolyn’s Country Cousins Pumpkin Patch before Halloween, when they close for the rest of the year.