Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fall Traditions—Pumpkin Patch

Soul? No thanks.  I'll take your wallet!
Since I moved out to SoCal, my wife and I have had the same tradition around this time of going to a U-Pick pumpkin patch for (obviously) pumpkins, and then on up into the mountain to an apple orchard for (again, obviously) apples and cider.  The pumpkin patch, Live OakCanyon Pumpkin Patch, has grown more popular and theme-parky over the years.  But this past weekend it went over the top.

In the past, the Pumpkin Patch was a quaint, almost side-of-the-road afterthought affair.  The fields were mowed down, it was a walk through muddy ground, and the best they offered were wheelbarrows to carry out your spoils.  It was cold, dirty, fun work.

It apparently caught on, because they expanded the parking lot into what had been their Christmas Tree groves, and started putting up out buildings.  Some temporary games and rides came into being—mostly jumpy-house type affairs.  For a buck or two, the kiddies could go play.  A few years ago they added a corn maze, which was nice.  A bit pricey to wander through, but still fun.  The kicker is that you have to find animal signs throughout the maze to get a code for the door out.

This was the only one of twelve cars actually working.
This year, however, is the first year they’ve actually charged us admission to come onto the property to spend our money.  We had to wait in line for the privilege of coming in.  The only upshot I could see is they’ve adopted Disneyland-style parking guides to direct you to a spot.  A smart move to get the people to spend their money just through the front door.  They also have a more boardwalk type area with rides and games.  They get you by making you buy tickets (about $1 each) and then the rides run between 3 and 8 tickets.  With my three sons, I was spending between $9 and $24 to get them on a ride.  We’re now talking almost Disneyland-style prices!

The boys had a great time, went on some fun rides and bouncy houses.  When we were down to our last scattering of tickets, not enough for all the boys, I made the executive decision to shoot at the archery booth.  It was a nice choice, although I haven’t pulled a bowstring in a couple years.  I managed to only flub one arrow (the attendant chided me to make certain it was properly seated on the nock) and then made a nice grouping before I planted three in the bullseye.

But I’m torn.

I get that they want to make money.  I’m all for making money.  I’d like to make some myself someday.  It seems like it makes life easier.  I’m not certainly I can embrace the over-commercialization of a U-Pick pumpkin patch simply for the sake of tradition.  I haven’t fully decided, but I’m certainly torn between what I experienced a decade ago, and the small amusement park that is now the Live Oak Canyon Pumpkin Patch.


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