By A.Jade Munsie
Pumpkin season is here. Whether it’s pumpkin carving, pumpkin spice everything or a delicious pumpkin pie, the Prairie Gardens Haunted Pumpkin Festival is the place to start for all things October joy. Nestled in Bon Accord awaits a 15-acre pumpkin patch centred in 35-acres of country fun.
Owner Laurel Andersen has had the pleasure of growing up on the farm and takes pride in the work she does and the impression that Prairie Gardens has on its visitors.
“As you kind of float around the farm, you get to meet the visitors and learn about them and their stories. And I think it’s just such a wonderful time this year, more so than perhaps others,” said Andersen.
Prairie Gardens has created a hot spot of activities for their 27th Annual Haunted Pumpkin Festival with the hope it will continue to draw people back to the land and connect folks with their food.
“We have kind of focused more in on the agritourism aspect, so, the picking of the pumpkins, harvesting your own vegetables […] so, brand new this year, we’ve actually opened up our big 15-acre pumpkin patch,” said Andersen.
In previous years, visitors could only pick from the localized patch due to the layout of the other field. However, this year visitors can venture into the depths of the Prairie Gardens pumpkin haven.
“[…] it’s many many many thousands of pumpkin plants and many thousands of pounds of pumpkins. We do, I think, over 30 different kinds of pumpkins: your traditional jack-o-lanterns down to your blue ones. We got little minis. White ones,” said Andersen.
New to the collection this year is the pink pumpkin variety. Its types include the Porcelain Doll, Porcelain Princess, Troll and the Speckled Hound. But Prairie Gardens is the furthest north blue pumpkin grower globally, which makes them a unique experience.
“As a producer, you get so excited about vegetables and the blue pumpkin crop this year was absolutely fantastic […] we found one that was like 40lbs. We’ve never seen a blue one that big before. So, that was just amazing,” said Andersen.
When it comes to picking the perfect pumpkin, Andersen says your gut is the ideal example to follow. But depending on what you want to do with your pumpkin, Andersen gives some tips.
“Usually, the denser pumpkins are the better eating ones, regardless of colour, our favourite are the blues, but the pinks are really good for eating […] If you’re looking for carving, just those great big guys. If they’re hollow it’s probably cured, so those are good things to look for,” said Andersen.
Visitors can also take part in a train ride, bale ride, corn maze, sunflower maze, haunted house, shop the general store and check out the animals and bale art.
“It’s really special for families because we’re outdoors. It’s a safer environment. They can come as a family and kind of forget about what’s going on in the outside world, and just kind of have a fun day to themselves,” said Andersen.
Prairie Gardens is open to the public until October 31st, after which they will take private bookings and reopen their doors to the public in May. The Haunted Pumpkin Festival runs on October weekends, but Prairie Gardens activities are also ongoing Monday through Friday.
For details, visit prariegardens.org.