Pumpkin patches are back, and in the greater Lewis County area, they come in as many different shapes and sizes as the pumpkins they grow.
At the pumpkin patch on Goodrich Road in Centralia, owners Tim and Linda Crockett prefer a family-friendly approach. Their focus is harvest season happiness rather than harrowing Halloween.
The free-to-visit patch is open every day in October from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It frequently hosts field trips for kids. The corn maze is also free.
“I love growing things,” Tim Crockett said. “And Linda and I share the work on all of it.”
To select varieties, the Crocketts comb through farm catalogs. Pumpkins and squash are chosen for strength and sturdiness, taste, color, beauty or perhaps even ugliness. After all, warts can be dashing on the right pumpkin.
“We've been growing long enough that some of the stuff we started out with we wouldn't even consider now. Poor stems, poor color. All kinds of things when we started in the '80s. But they have really improved the genetics on pumpkins because it's a large business,” Tim said.
The farm was passed down from Linda’s side of the family. When the Crocketts took over, Tim said, they became the first in the area to grow pumpkins. Originally, the farm was a side hustle.
Now as retirees, the couple runs the patch as a passion. For all of its existence, the wholesome side of fall has been the focus.
“That's what Linda wanted to do in the first place,” said Tim. “As for myself, I was more thinking we would put some scary things in here, but she was right. It's been the best thing we could ever have done. I don't know if somebody else wants to do that because there's also a niche for the scary part.”
Besides the hayride, kids can look forward to seeing hay bale sculptures at the pumpkin patch. This year, they’ve been made to memorialize the Crocketts’ old dogs, Annie and Tootsie.
There are also two young attention-loving goats named Fred and Ed, two piglets named Oreo and Milkshake, two baby calves who live in a giant plastic pumpkin, and the corn maze is often a hiding place for chickens.
When it’s raining, the friendly beasts usually stay inside but are still visible.
As fun as all those creatures are, the Crocketts said their favorite part of running the pumpkin patch is seeing the joy from the kids who visit.
“I have so much fun because I do the hayride for them every time they come and you look back there and there’s all these kids. I mean, this is the first time for most of them doing anything similar to this. They’re five years old and they’ve got a big ol’ grin on their face,” Tim said.
Other pumpkin patches to visit this season:
Here are a few additional options for area pumpkin patches. If you know of more, email reporter Isabel Vander Stoep at firstname.lastname@example.org and the information will be published in The Chronicle’s Community Calendar.
For a spooky time:
• The Huntting's Pumpkin Patch and Haunted Forest
• 600 Cinebar Road, Cinebar
• Sunday through Thursday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
• WillyTee’s Pumpkin Patch
• 3415 Jackson Hwy, Chehalis
• Friday through Sunday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
• Mount Rainier Pumpkin Patch
• 209 Lutkens Road, Elbe
• Friday through Sunday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
South Thurston County:
• Rutledge Corn Maze
• 302 93rd Ave SE, Olympia
• Every day: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.