In search of the Great Pumpkin

Tyler must have found his Great Pumpkin!

Tyler must have found his Great Pumpkin!

We will be there, Linus. We will share in your ever-sosincere search in that pumpkin patch. We will wait with you and hope with you and almost believe with you. But the Great Pumpkin won’t appear. He always spends the fall season with families in Hayden.

This Great Pumpkin does not rise from among the vines though. He hides mysteriously in the mounds of orangeyellow globes at one of the nearby pumpkin farms, and families come from all around in search for him.

This season, they are at The Great Pumpkin Patch in Hayden. This pumpkin patch is decorated festively and filled with a country store and many family attractions such as train rides, petting zoo, pony rides, mazes, and bungee jumping, topped with a hayride to the pumpkin patch where pumpkins lie all about in great glowing heaps.

Lexi, age 12, rolls out a huge, round, golden pumpkin and looks at it critically. “It’s good-looking, but it’s not the one.” Her grandmother Frances studies an elongated pretender with a touch of green in its yellow skin. “It would make a fine jack-o’-lantern, but it’s not the pumpkin.” They take their time. It’s not something they want to be wrong about.

Others rummage about in the field of autumn gold in search of their one-and-only-authentic-no-doubtabout it-can’t-miss-right pumpkin. It is Tyler who finally finds it – Tyler and his brother Zachary, ages 5 and 1. It’s hiding under a plump, bold fruit that is trying to pass itself off as the perfect pumpkin. The family of judges gather around and discuss. They examine the candidate from all angles. “Yes, this is it! If it’s not the Great Pumpkin, it’s certainly a great pumpkin.”

After His Royal Greatness has been found, family members can go choose their individual pumpkins. This is strictly a matter of taste, and can be done with no great care or solemnity. But it is done with plenty of laughter and kidding, because it’s a family tradition, and this family loves its traditions.

Pauline and Julie Swann help young and old alike find that perfect pumpkin each year to take home and decorate or carve. That shouldn’t be a problem as the Swanns planted 80+ acres of seeds this year, including several varieties of pumpkins and gourds. Everywhere a person turns, there are different sizes and shapes of pumpkins to view.

The family-owned pumpkin patch draws thousands to Blount County each October, including about 7000 school children, said Julie Swann, co-owner. Julie and her sister, Pauline Swann, bought the farm three years ago from the Jones and Sherrell families and continue the Great Pumpkin Patch’s tradition.

The Great Pumpkin Patch is open through Oct. 31, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to dark, and Sunday from 1 p.m. to dark. There is live entertainment during the weekend. Phone 205-647-2183.