Pumpkin Patch: Last day brings out the committed and costumed
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: November 07, 2012
The last day of the 6th Annual Rotary Club of Santa Paula Faulkner Farm Pumpkin Patch brought out committed volunteers, diehard patch fans and costumed kids who got in free for the chance to show off their Halloween alter egos in a special procession.
“It’s winding down today,” said Maria Bombara, a past president of Rotary who was helping the event out all over the map. “It’s really been great to see all the kids who’ve had such a great, great time - and learned a lot about farming” through special programs and displays including the rolling acres of growing pumpkins.
Judy McCarthy, event coordinator for the Aviation Museum of Santa Paula was on duty at the tent that served as information central for various area organizations and their events. “People are sometimes surprised when they see how much is going on in Santa Paula, all the things to do,” said McCarthy.
A major thing to do each year is the Pumpkin Patch - the only nonprofit harvest festival in the county. Held at the UC Hansen Trust Agricultural Center (historic Faulkner Farm), the Patch draws thousands of visitors each year to experience farm life and get an appreciation for how all those good things to eat are grown; old-fashioned family fun and promoting agricultural education has been a long-standing Patch tradition.
Patch Chairman Chris Wilson was on hand throughout the four-weekend run of the Patch, not only to respond to all requests but especially to help at the trebuchet that he designed and built. The Pumpkin Chucker is one of the Patch’s most popular attractions.
Ginger Gherardi said preliminary results show attendance is down somewhat this year due to “drizzling weather” one weekend and gusty winds the next, but probably the most important reason was that last year there were five weekends in October instead of this year’s four. In spite of the dip in attendance per capita spending was up, with families spending more for the extras available at the Patch including the wide range of pumpkins and specialty produce available for Halloween and fall decorating.
The Patch provides more than a fun place to visit on October weekends: each year the Rotary Club gives donations to other nonprofit organizations that helped at the event. And all other proceeds are socked away in a Benefit Fund that offers grants to other area nonprofits.
Little Eliza Bennett didn’t care about anything adults might find impressive about the Pumpkin Patch: the 6-year-old from Thousand Oaks was more interested in the closing day Costume Parade. “I’m a princess,” she said solemnly while holding on to her tiara. “But I don’t know which one I want to be.”