The annual Pumpkin Festival will kick off this year’s month-long pumpkin patch,the PumpkinFest at the AGRIscapes Education and Outreach Center on Oct. 5 and 6.
The festival will offer hayrides, a corn maze, a series of contests and plenty of food for guests during the weekend of fun. Most of the attractions will remain open for the month of October. The night maze, a new attraction, will open Oct. 11, according to the PumpkinFest webpage.
AGRIscapes is an outreach center to help teach children in Pomona and the surrounding cities about the local history of agriculture. It was established in 2001 and has since developed programs like the Petting Farm, Spring Fun on the Farm and PumpkinFest to help in the efforts.
The Pumpkin Festival was first created in 1993 and has since taken off. People come from all over Pomona and neighboring cities to pluck a pumpkin from the patch.
The Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture grows about 40,000 pumpkins in the patch, according to the AGRIscapes website, and takes pumpkin donations from other farms. In 2018, approximately 60,000 pumpkins were sold. AGRIscapes expects the same number this year.
“We start(ed) talking about it about nine months in advance and then approximately June, early July is when we kick into full gear,” said Craig Walters, the director of AGRIscapes and director of the event. “The timing is pretty crucial. With the pumpkins, you don’t want to plant them too late and then they’re not ready to pick. Or if you plant them too early, they could go bad.”
The corn maze featured at the event is grown specifically for the Pumpkin Festival and PumpkinFest and planted around the Fourth of July, Walters said. The Pumpkin Festival webpage provides a list of activities aside from the maze and pumpkin patch, such as the Insect Fair, four different contests and rubber duck races.
“So, the duck race is the little rubber ducks that a kid would use in a bathtub or something and we have old-fashioned water pumps with the handle that you pump up and down. So you put the duck in a trough and you use the water pump and pump up and down to see how fast you can get your duck to the end of the trough,” Walters said.
The Pumpkin Festival and following PumpkinFest is staffed by about a thousand student volunteers from the College of Agriculture and 22 clubs on campus. After the festival is over, the students will continue to work at PumpkinFest six days a week accommodating multiple field trips of over 9,000 total children.
Ethan Ravenstein, a first-year aerospace engineering student, said the festival sounds interesting and he wouldn’t mind going depending on the price. CPP students get discounted fare at $3, rather than the general admission $5.
PumpkinFest is open through the month of October but closed Mondays.