Annual rite begins as activity-filled pumpkin patch opens

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 7, 2002

In his 18 years of running the Pumpkin Patch of Albert Lea, Larry Alvey has seen some very small children come to pick pumpkins. And they come back each year.

&uot;They keep coming out &045; from babies to kids to high school kids,&uot; Alvey said.

That’s why Alvey has a new sign this year at his pumpkin patch. It’s got the year on it as well as measurements, and he’s encouraging parents to take a photo of their children to see how they grow from year to year as they visit the patch.

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It’s clear the kids come for the atmosphere.

With everything from sheep and goats to a very large pig, 20-some cats and a dog named Goldie, there are animals galore. Kids can play &uot;Crow-K,&uot; pumpkin bowling, pumpkin checkers, pumpkin ring toss, pumpkin mini-golf and more. They can stop at the pumpkin house and watch videos. They can visit the spook house. They can walk through the Garden of Weedin’ Patch. And when it’s all done, they can find their own pumpkins in the patch.

Alvey, who opened Saturday for the season, said his pumpkin crop this year is &uot;average,&uot; but there are still pumpkins for everyone.

&uot;They grow everywhere,&uot; he said, pointing next to a shed where the vines were particularly thick.

Alvey sells the pumpkins for as little as 25 cents up to a top price of $8 for carving pumpkins. There are also howden pumpkins, pie pumpkins, mini-pumpkins, gourds and squash.

The patch has Web site, On it, Alvey has recipes, upcoming groups who plan to visit, a trivia game and more. He said he plans to have an Internet bingo game this year too, and each day will post a number. People can come out to the patch to claim their prizes.

The pumpkin patch is open from 1-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The patch is closed if it’s raining. There is no entrance fee to visit the patch.