Alan and Geralyn Hoefling help young and old alike find that perfect pumpkin each year to take home and decorate or carve. The Hoefling's own The Pumpkin Patch on County Road 38 just south of Marcus and have been growing pumpkins to sell for 13 years now.
"I teach preschool and have five kids of my own and I wanted a place for kids to go to get their own pumpkins," Geralyn said.
That shouldn't be a problem as the Hoefling's planted approximately 3,000 seeds this year to produce the crop they would need for their stand to be open. The 3,000 seeds planted include pumpkins, gourds and pie pumpkins. Among those three items are about 30 varieties of gourds and almost a dozen different kinds of pumpkins. Everywhere a person turns there is a different color for them to look at. Red, orange, peach, green, white and tan are the different colors and then there are all the different shapes.
Geralyn can usually tell you the type of pumpkin you pick by its color and the gourds are there in all shapes, sizes and colors as well for people to choose from. There are club gourds, swan gourds, apple gourds and the list continues.
That tradition is important to the Hoeflings but that doesn't always mean it's important to everyone else. Pumpkin stealing has been a problem for the Hoeflings over the years and unfortunately they have had to get the law involved.
"This is my store and I don't have four walls around it but that doesn't mean people can come and just take," Geralyn said.
Some people might think that a seed can be put into the ground, it grows and that is all it takes, but according to the Hoeflings that's not even close. They worry about bugs, rodents, weeds, drought and frost every year they plant their business in the ground.
"We had a gopher dig up an entire row of seeds this year," she said. "And when we have frost it's a lot of work. Whatever you don't pick you're not going to save."
The Pumpkin Patch will have their annual corn maze again this year, along with hay rides for kids of all ages. On Oct. 17 and 24 the maze will be haunted and on Halloween night it will be lighted for people to walk through. Those who visit The Pumpkin Patch will also have the opportunity to take pictures with the different scenes they have painted on to wood panels and also visit the gift shop where Geralyn has her fresh baked breads, cookies, popcorn balls, suckers and beverages.
The cost of pumpkins this year starts at a dollar for small ones and works up from there. Medium-sized pumpkins that are traditional for carving into jack-o-lanterns start at $3 up to $4.75 and gourds start at 50-cents.
The patch will be open Fridays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. People with questions or to book a group time to visit the pumpkin patch may call the Hoeflings at 712-376-2696, or Geralyn at 712-490-3329.