Weigh-Off, Farmer John’s Pumpkin Patch usher in autumn

Published 7:14 am Thursday, September 24, 2009

Above average temperatures may have made the seasons blur this year, but autumn will make its presence known this weekend.

The 10th annual Southern Minnesota Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off is Saturday at Jim’s Super Fresh Produce and another local fall staple, Farmer John’s Pumpkin Patch, opens for the season Saturday.

The Weigh-Off

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Where: Jim’s Super Fresh Produce, 2101 Fourth St. S.W.

When: 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, weighing begins at 10 a.m., scale closes at noon

More information: 437-6554

Growers, professional types as well as the likes of backyard gardeners, will bring in their prized pumpkins, watermelons, squash, corn and sunflowers — from more than a 100-mile radius — to compete for titles as the heaviest and the tallest. There is also $1,000 in cash and prizes at stake.

Last year’s reigning champion is a 1,015 pound pumpkin. Prized plants can be entered anytime before the weighing begins at 10 a.m.

“We even have kids that come in to enter their little treasures,” Super Fresh greenhouse manager Cindy Lippert said.

She added that attendees should arrive early to see the real show.

“It’s great fun to watch them unload the pumpkins off of the trucks in the morning,” Lippert said.

Fall treats of a smaller, edible size will be available for snacking, like caramel apples and cider. The Hayfield FFA will serve the earlybirds their annual pumpkin pancake breakfast from 8 to 11:30 a.m.

In addition to admiring giant gourds and fantastical fruits, attendees can keep busy at the petting zoo, space balloon for jumping and growers’ presentations. Tickets for the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center’s Halloween Warm Up., taking place Oct. 9 and 10, will also be available for purchase during the event.

Awards will be given at 1 p.m. Pumpkins will remain on display at Super Fresh through October.

Farmer John’s Pumpkin Patch

Where: Farmer John’s Pumpkin Patch, 90537 273rd St.

Where: Saturday Sept. 26 through Oct. 31, open daily from noon to 6 p.m.

More information: 437-9180 or www.localharvest.org/farms/m10100

If you’re in the market to purchase rather than weigh a pumpkin, Farmer John Ulland’s Pumpkin Patch opens for the season Saturday, offering more than 20 varieties and raspberries until they freeze.

Despite the lack of rain, Ulland said he has a wonderful crop this year.

“It just seems to have rained at nice times,” he said.

Cornstalks, gourds, Indian corn, fall mums and a few veggies will be available as well. Apples from Cedar Grove Apple Orchards will also be on sale at the patch, along with Ulland’s wife Jan’s homemade jams and jellies.

Ulland said there is more to do than shop at the quiet farm, located at the point of a dead-end road.

“People can come out just to enjoy the day,” he said, “They don’t have to spend anything. We enjoy the company.”

Admission is free everyday. There are ducks and chickens for the children to pet and on the first three Sundays of October there are free afternoon horse drawn wagon rides.

“Kids love playing in the silos too,” Ulland said. The farm also has a party facility that regularly hosts birthdays, church, youth and adult groups, family reunions and graduation parties.