Claudia Gross spotted a small patch of pumpkins, gently plopped down her 6-month-old daughter and started pleading for a smile as she snapped photos.
“This is tradition,” said Gross, who drove from Justin to Hall’s Pumpkin Farm in Grapevine with her husband, Wade, and three children over the weekend. “The way I see it is, I take my children to the pumpkin patch, my husband’s mother took him to the pumpkin patch when he was little, and someday my children will take their own children.”
At Hall’s Pumpkin Farm, pickers can choose from several hundred gourds of all shapes, sizes and colors. Most years, Hall’s buys pumpkins from Floydada, which bills itself as Pumpkin Capital USA and supplies much of North Texas with its pumpkins.
This year proved challenging, co-owner Lisa Nelson said. Heavy rains fell in West Texas during harvest, making it impossible for farmers to pick some of the pumpkins, so Hall’s imported additional pumpkins from New Mexico.
The farm’s corn maze faced the opposite problem, Nelson said. Almost no rain fell in September, forcing the farm to irrigate the maze.
“It was a tough year. Everything has been dry and dusty around here,” she said. “But we’re here now, and we’re open for business.”
Pumpkins arrived later than usual at the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch, thanks to the West Texas rain, but the moisture helped grow Texas-size gourds, owner Jan Balekian said.
“This has been a crazy year, but we now have quite a few pumpkins that weigh 60 pounds,” she said. “They are big enough to put a baby in, which I have seen people do.”
Balekian, who opened the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch 21 years ago, said the patches continue to grow in popularity because they offer families a fun, affordable activity..
“It’s good, wholesome fun all ages can enjoy,” she said. “You can’t find that many other places today.”
On Sunday, some families sought to start new traditions. Anthony Vasquez of Fort Worth lifted a giant orange pumpkin over his shoulder. His son, Anthony Vasquez Jr., got to choose a pumpkin for his 11th birthday.
This was the family’s first outing to a pumpkin patch, because Vasquez has spent the past several years overseas during military deployments.
“We thought we would try something new,” said Wanda Vasquez, his wife. “It’s a nice way to spend an afternoon.”
Area pumpkin patches
• Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch
When: Now through Oct. 31; 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Where: 5100 Cross Timbers Road, Flower Mound
Cost: $5 per car
Activities: Hayrides, hay bale mazes, bounce houses, playgrounds.
Information: 817-430-4536, flowermoundpumpkinpatch.com
• Mainstay Farm Family Pumpkin Days
When: Saturdays — Oct. 18, 25 & Nov. 1; 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: 1004 W. Bethesda Road, Cleburne
Cost: $14 for ages 13 and over; $11 for children ages 3-12 and seniors; free for children 2 and younger
Activities: Hayrides, train rides, sheep racing, face painting, a maze and duck races.
Information: 817-295-6772, mainstayfarm.com
• Country Critters Farm
When: Now through Nov. 9; Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: 3709 County Road 617, Alvarado
Cost: $10 per person, $5 seniors, free for children 2 and younger; $7 per person on Columbus Day. Admission includes one pie-sized pumpkin per children and one jack-o-lantern-sized pumpkin for your family.
Activities: Bounce houses, playground, petting zoo, pony rides, train rides, maze and duck races.
Information: 817-477-3060, countrycrittersfarm.com
• Hall’s Pumpkin Farm
When: Now through Oct 31; Monday-Thursday, 3-8 p.m.; Friday, 3-10 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 1-8 p.m.
Where: 3420 Hall-Johnson Road, Grapevine
Cost: Admission is free; corn maze is $10; hayrides are $3.
Activities: Petting zoo, hayrides and corn maze.
Information: 817-991-1052, hallspumpkinfarm.net
• Homestead Farms
When: Pick a pumpkin during regular store hours, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
Where: 4160 Keller-Hicks Road, Fort Worth
Cost: Free, prices of pumpkins vary
Activities: Hayrides for $1 per person, corn pits and petting zoos.
Information: 817-431-4277. wwwhomestead-farms.net