Pumpkins, Corn Mazes, Bounce Pillows – Oh My!
Fall is my favorite season, with the blazing heat of summer finally fading away into colorful leaves, crisp breezes, cowgirl boots, football games and pumpkin spice everything. For the past three years – since my oldest child was born – my family’s kickoff to the most wonderful time of the year has begun at the Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch.
It was started over two decades ago, when Boone Hall owner Willie McRae opened a small pumpkin patch where families could go to pick out a pumpkin – a much more memorable adventure than grabbing one in the lobby of a grocery store. Word got around about the pumpkin patch, and as interest grew, so did the fun.
Now one of the largest fall festivals in the state, the invitation to the public and to school groups to spend some time “down on the farm” is a nostalgic escape in the middle of suburbia.
No matter your age, the pumpkin patch has something for everyone – a small market at the front for the shoppers, antique tractors and hay bales for those looking for the perfect fall family photo, and, of course, pumpkins of all shapes and sizes.
For the kids, all kinds of ways to bounce, swing, slide and jump are offered with two huge “bounce pillows” – my daughter’s favorite – said to be the largest in South Carolina; inflatables for both toddlers and bigger kids; a unique playground with a rope spiderweb to climb on; and, for brave kids and kids-at-heart, a three-story slide tower.
Get lost in the eight-acre WEZL Corn Maze, have dinner or snacks from one of the food trucks, or, if it’s the weekend, feed some animals at the petting zoo and let your children ride the miniature ponies.
Our last stop before we leave is always the Monster Hayride. Brace yourself and your family for a spooky tractor ride around the forest through a series of themed scenes designed by Boone Hall CEO Laura Bowers. Created mostly from finds collected throughout the year from Goodwill, she transforms the forest into a seemingly mythical trail, suspending figures of witches in the trees or a series of snakes created from tubing around the next corner. Though some stretches are a bit eerie – after all, it’s close to Halloween – the hayride is fun for the whole family.
For my young family of four, the Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch is the perfect way to start the fall season. This is not just a pumpkin patch – it’s time well spent enjoying the simple things in life: the smile on my child’s face as she jumps on a giant air pillow until she can’t jump anymore; trekking through the corn maze in the autumn sun; and riding through the forest behind a tractor and feeling like you’re miles away somewhere in the country – but really just a short drive from home. Oh, and, of course, picking out a pumpkin or two before we leave.
This year, the Pumpkin Patch will be open from Sept. 29 through Oct. 31. Visit www.boonehallpumpkinpatch.com for more information.
By Anne Shuler Toole