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Plan your fall trip to area pumpkin patches

Brock A. Stein | 10/8/2013, 8:10 p.m.
Like the pumpkins they sell, farms where parents can bring their kids to pick out their own jack o’ lantern ...
Families come from all over to pick pumpkins, take hayrides and partake in other fall festivities at The Children’s Farm in Palos Park. It was one of a number of places for children and adults alike to enjoy the autumn and see a more relaxed side of living in the southwest suburbs.

Like the pumpkins they sell, farms where parents can bring their kids to pick out their own jack o’ lantern have sprouted up all over the area in recent years. Many places offer the chance for children to pick out a pumpkin, wander through a corn maze, or take a hayride.

Tom McNamara, who runs Tom and Zach’s Pumpkin Patch in Lockport, started growing pumpkins on his own small plot of land six years ago with his son Zach. Since then he’s noticed more places that offer the chance for kids and parents to commune with their agricultural past.

McNamara points to the popularity of not only places that offer pumpkins but also where people can pick their own apples.

“People just want to get out and walk through the outdoors,” McNamara said. “This is an inexpensive and easy way to get kids acquainted with nature.”

McNamara said that he got started farming a small 1-½ acre plot in front of his home in Lockport when the area proved to be too small to accommodate large equipment that his brother Tim uses to farm a nearby 80 acres. He started by putting in a crop of corn but pests forced him to switch to pumpkins.

Unlike some of the larger operations, McNamara’s farm focuses on pumpkins, eschewing the petting zoos and corn mazes for a more back to basics farm experience.

“I talk to people about farming and what it’s like to run a small farm,” he said.

Tom and Zach’s Pumpkin Patch, 15725 W. Bruce Road in Lockport, is open daily from 8 am until dusk. Admission is free. More information can be found online at

http://tomandzachspumpkinpatch.tripod.com or by calling (815) 838-6816.

Now is the perfect time to plan a trip with the family to take in some autumn fun at one of several farms in throughout the region. Before heading out to any of the area farms, be sure to check their websites for online coupons, ticket information, admission prices (Some places offer discounts for purchasing tickets online), and refund policies in the event of inclement weather.

Anderson Fun-E Farm

508 E. Schoolhouse Road (Illinois 126) in Plainfield

Admission: $11

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

In addition to a pumpkin patch, Anderson Fun-E Farm also has both regular hayrides and the haunted variety along with a haunted house, petting zoo, pony rides, and inflatables.

More information can be found at online http://andersonsfunefarm.weebly.com or by calling (888) 352-5837

Bengston’s Pumpkin Farm

13341 W 151st St., Homer Glen

Admission: $9.99 weekdays, $11.99 weekends

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily

Bengston’s has a little bit of everything from rides, a petting zoo, to a haunted barn, a corn maze and pony rides. Kiddie rides are unlimited with paid admission.

More information is at http://www.pumpkinfarm.com or by calling (708) 301-3276.

A baby basks in the sun surrounded by pumpkins at The Children’s Farm in Palos Park.

A baby basks in the sun surrounded by pumpkins at The Children’s Farm in Palos Park.

The Children’s Farm/Pumpkin Days at The Center

12700 Southwest Highway, Palos Park

Admission: $8

Hours: Open daily from 12pm-5pm, Weekends (and Columbus Day) 10am-4pm

Families can come out to Palos Park for free admission to The Center’s pick-your-own pumpkin patch. In addition, kids can romp in the Pumpkin Playland ($8 admission), take the barn tour, visit the petting zoo, climb the straw structure, or dive in to a box full of corn kernels. Young kids can tour the Spooky Wood Shed or take mom and dad through the corn maze. Older kids can come out on the evenings of October 25 and 26 for The Haunting. Free hay rides are offered on weekends. The Center and Children’s Farm is a non-profit organization and monies raised from the Pumpkin Days and other events go for a variety of programs, including a summer camp program.