As the days grow shorter and the air turns cooler, thoughts of Halloween and finding the perfect pumpkin come to mind. For some it is an annual tradition that takes them back to the roots of harvesting your own produce on the farm, while others see pumpkins as a must-have decoration for the upcoming holiday.
For Statesville resident Julie Windon, coming to the Carrigan Farms pumpkin patch in Mooresville is a family tradition she intends to pass down to her two sons, Mason Angell, 4 months, and Draven Hughes, 5. Born nearby, Windon said she has been coming for close to 30 years.
“Halloween is my favorite holiday,” she said, with Draven exclaiming, “Me too!”
Carrigan Farms is a family farm, established in 1902, which began growing and selling pumpkins to the public in 1975. Owner Doug Carrigan said, “We’re selling fun and memories. We take cash, check or your first born, but we don’t take plastic.”
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Carrigan said “It is a rite of passage,” to go in the field and twist off the stem on a fresh pumpkin. One enjoyed by many people across the state as the farm sells more than 10,000 pumpkins a year. Guests get to ride the hay wagons to the field and select a pumpkin grown there for a price of $10 per pumpkin.
“It is a $10 hay ride with a free pumpkin or a $10 pumpkin with a free hay ride,” Carrigan said. “We don’t just want lifetime customers, we want generational customers,” he said citing examples of fourth generation customers.
Steven Capobianco, horticultural/agricultural agent for the Mecklenburg County Cooperative Extension Office, said pumpkins are like all produce, they ripen and will eventually rot, so harvesting, storage and freshness are important factors in choosing your pumpkin.
“Last year we had a long rainy season, so the pumpkins didn’t last as long as they normally would,” he said. The key to finding a pumpkin in the field is to look for one on dry ground. “If the field is dry, the better the pumpkin,” said Capobianco.
The next best bet for freshness would be farmers markets and roadside stands that have the pumpkins delivered.
“They usually have a little wider variety and since they have them shipped weekly, or bi-weekly, they will be fresher than the chain stores,” Capobianco said.
For the pick-in-the-field experience go to the Hall Family Farm in south Charlotte. The farm has been family-owned and operated for over 70 years.
“We only grow pumpkins this season and we’re open seven days a week,” said Lara Hall. Pumpkins sell for 59 cents a pound, hay rides are $3.25 for ages 3 and up with the corn maze being $8 plus tax for the same age group.
The Hall Family Farm is open Sunday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 pm., or Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. through Oct. 31.
If it is organic pumpkins you seek, you should head to the Wise Acre Farm in Indian Trail. A USDA Certified Organic Farm just outside of Charlotte, they offer more than the pick in the field experience.
Pumpkins sell for 69 cents per pound, hay ride for $3 with pizza made from local ingredients sold on site. Hosting school tours Monday-Wednesday they are open to the public Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
For the exercise/entertainment crowd head to Aw Shucks! Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch in Indian Trail. The general admission is $10 plus tax for ages 13 and older, $8 plus tax for ages 4-12 with age 3 and under free. Open weekends only: Friday, 6 p.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 p.m.-6 p.m.
Some sales raise money for worthy causes.
The Providence Pumpkin Patch at Providence United Methodist Church in Charlotte sells their pumpkins, $3-$55 each, to raise money for a newly renovated youth area at the church. The Rev. Teresa Dunn said they rely on their 220 students and their parents to fill the 348 shifts needed for selling the more than 5,000 pumpkins.
For those who like a little more exercise and entertainment, most of the area corn mazes also feature pumpkins for sale.
No matter where your search may take you, everyone’s idea of a perfect pumpkin is different. For some it is the color, while others look for a certain shape or size. All that truly matters is that it stays fresh long enough to last the season, or until they’re carved, whichever may come first.
Marty Price is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where to find pumpkins in Lake Norman
Amazing Maize Maze, 4431 Neck Road, Huntersville, www.ruralhill.net/AmazingMaizeMaze.asp
Boy Scout Troop 323, 17029 Kenton Place, Cornelius, www.troop323bsa.com
Carrigan Farms, 1150 Oak Ridge Farm Hwy, Mooresville, www.carriganfarms.com
Davidson UMC, 233 S Main Street, Davidson, www.dumcyouth.org
Josh’s Farmers Market, 189 Williamson Rd. Mooresville, www.joshsfarmersmarket.com
Old Store Produce, 14720 Brown Mill Road, Huntersville, http://oldstore.weebly.com/index.html
Pumpkin patches in South Charlotte
Aw Shucks! Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch, 3718 Plyler Mill Road, Monroe, www.awshuckscornmaze.com
Country Days Corn Maze, 416 Joe Lee Helms Road., Indian Trail, www.countrydayscornmaze.com
Hall Family Farm, 10713 Providence Road, West, Charlotte, www.hallfamilyfarm.com
The Hunter Farm, 13624 Providence Road, Matthews, www.thehunterfarm.org
Providence UMC, 2810 Providence Road, Charlotte, http://providenceumc.org/events/
Wise Acre Farm, 4701 Hartis Road, Indian Trail, http://wiseacresorganic.com
Other farms in Mecklenburg County can be found here: www.ncfarmfresh.com/Directory.asp?product=&county=MECKLENBURG&SearchType=farms&submit=Search