by Bethany Proffitt
I am a summer girl. I love hot weather, bare feet, shorts, sleeveless shirts, swimming, staying outside all day, and watching the sunset after 8:00 pm. When I was younger (and less mature), fall was spent mourning the loss of summer and dreading the coming winter. I hated Halloween, the color orange, the taste of pumpkin, and the trouble of putting on more clothes just to go outside. The trees looked awesome when the leaves changed color, but I couldn’t help but dread the months of dead and cold that they signaled.
The season began to grow on me when I was in college. I went to OSU, where I was confronted year-round with “Halloween colors” everywhere I went. Studying in coffee shops, I discovered chai lattes and scones. I sort of liked layering up for long walks across campus with a hot cuppa joe in my hand. I really enjoyed celebrating the season changes with the children at the preschools where I interned and student-taught. I even started to like the taste of pumpkin!
Then I became a mother. My oldest son was born on October 30, at 9:00 pm. The next day, all the nurses were wearing Halloween flair, and we were a little sad to miss opening the door for trick-or-treaters that first year in our house. I began to love fall because it was the season in which I became a mother. I spent cold days cuddled up inside with my newborn son. I didn’t mind putting extra socks, and layers, and hats, and blankets on the baby before we went out because that level of care seemed fitting and natural for a newborn.
The next year, on October 1, I was planning my baby’s first birthday party when I realized that fall had become my favorite season. Now, when pumpkins roll out and the air starts to chill and the leaves start to change, we celebrate. We go to pumpkin patches every weekend, we make chili and pumpkin muffins, we buy candy, I enjoy my coffee a little more, and we plan a birthday party for a very special boy. My boy, who lights up when he sees pumpkins and candy and who plans his Halloween costume a year in advance. My first boy, who made me a mother eight years ago.
Here are my 4 favorite Tulsa-area pumpkin patches:
4. Pumpkin Town
We used to go to Pumpkin Town when they were located at 81st and Mingo. They moved a few years ago to 61st and Garnett. It’s fun, but I feel like they really nickel-and-dime you. My boys wanted to try all the fun things they saw, like inflatables and hay-rides, and we would easily spend over $10 without even getting pumpkins. Now, they have a pass you can buy for $8 per person Monday – Thursday or for $10 on weekends (2 years old and under are free) that will allow you unlimited activities, and they even offer a season pass.
Pumpkin Town really is a fun way to spend a fall day and the kids really do love it; I just don’t like spending a lot of money to play.
Southern Hills United Methodist Church, on Lewis just south of 61st, sets up a great little pumpkin patch every fall. When my boys were little, we used to stop by this one a couple of times each season because it was on our way to meet my husband for lunch. I love this pumpkin patch, especially for preschoolers, because it isn’t a big production to go. It’s in midtown, not out at a farm; it’s small enough to see where your kids have wandered off to; and the proceeds from the pumpkin sales are for good causes. They have a neat educational tent set up with some scientific exhibits about growing pumpkins and a few hands-on items. They also do a wonderful job with field trips. One of the volunteers leads a story time and a lesson, then takes the group around the education tent to see and interact with the exhibits.
Bring a few dollars to buy some pumpkins or gourds to support United Methodist ministries such as Circle of Care and Restore Hope and enjoy a low-key morning or afternoon among the pumpkins.
I’d known about Livesay Orchards for a few years, and I decided to pack up the family and check them out on their opening day this year. We remembered to stop for donuts before setting out on the 45-minute drive to Porter, OK, but we failed to make a stop at the ATM. Livesay Orchards accepts cash or check, but no plastic. A checkbook lives in my car, but we took my husband’s car that day to save gas. We had a nice look around and, upon realizing that we couldn’t pay to do anything, we had to take four crying children back to the car. It was an epic fail in family fun preparedness on our part.
People who come prepared-pay for a ticket to ride a tractor-pulled trailer full of hay bales out to the actual pumpkin patch, where you can cut them from the vine yourself. Your ticket also includes admission to their carnival games. It looks about as fun and authentic as you can get. Just don’t make the same mistake we did.
I cannot overstate how much I love Carmichael’s in Bixby. I love Carmichael’s. You can have a great time there without spending a dime, or you can buy a truckload of pumpkins, gourds, hay, and cornstalks and make your front porch the envy of your neighbors. Carmichael’s offers a large variety of sizes and colors of pumpkins and gourds.
My kids have all loved climbing on the hugs piles of pumpkins, which make a great backdrop for those fall family pics. The free fun includes a spooky dark hay maze and a large variety of animals to see and pet, including goats, chickens, bunnies, and more. For $5, kids can ride a pony or a camel; for $2, they can go on a hay ride; and for 75 cents, they can buy a little bag of feed for the animals. Don’t forget to stop at the store, where you can buy hot dogs and hamburgers from the concession stand, plus homemade fudge and a variety of specialty jams and pickles.
Carmichael’s is a great destination for a family outing, a play date, a field trip, or even a birthday party. Almost as important as the pumpkins is this year’s addition of legit bathroom facilities! No more taking your potty-training toddler to a port-a-potty. Great job, Carmichael’s!
What’s your favorite Tulsa-area pumpkin patch? Share it with us in the comments below.
Bethany Proffitt is the mother of four kids, two boys and two girls, and knows a thing or two about keeping them entertained in Tulsa.