What’s Halloween without pumpkins? You can carve a scary face, a funny face or any face at all – but a pumpkin still means Halloween. However you carve it, once you put a candle inside and share your creativity, that orange glow will shine like a beacon as your contribution to the night’s festivities.
There are pumpkins at the grocery store. Sometimes, you may even see a road-side stand selling pumpkins. But, if that’s all you do when you choose your pumpkins, you’ve passed a wonderful adventure that thrives in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin.
Along the Illinois-Wisconsin border, there are pumpkin patches galore. They all offer more, much more than just a place to buy your gourds. Those who have come to the pumpkin patches once inevitably return again and again. For them and their families, it becomes an annual tradition.
One excellent example of how much more a pumpkin patch can offer is Stades Farm & Market in McHenry County. Along with a full array of fresh produce, to go along with your pumpkins, they offer acres, and acres of activities. You and the family can take a wagon ride out to the pumpkin patch before or after riding the pedal cars, negotiating a corn maze (or a bale-of-hay maze for the little ones), visiting the petting zoo, or swooping down Slide Mountain.
When the kids are done bouncing on the bouncy toys, you’ll see antique tractors. You might even see a tractor that looks a lot like Frank, the combine tractor from the Disney movie “Cars.” You can watch a pumpkin cannon launch pumpkins, one at a time, to distances that would compete with the drives by professional golfers. You can even fire a corn cannon. There are horsey races, a giant sandbox and a tractor-tire pyramid.
There’s food, apple cider, hot chocolate and, not to be missed, there are apple donuts that are out of this world.
Clearly, there’s a lot to do. Driving out from Chicago, you may worry that, after a full day at the pumpkin patch, you may not want to make that long drive home. No problem, there are places to stay in the area, such as the Waterfront Hotel & Marina, that will provide a cozy night’s sleep so you can head off the next day fully rested. Then again, if you don’t have to leave for home first thing in the morning, you can have a Northern Illinois breakfast and another adventure the next day. There’s plenty to do in the area.
To learn more about Stades Farm & Market, visit www.shadesofautumn.net or call 815-675-6396. Stades Farm & Market is located at 3709 Miller Road in McHenry. For more information about the Waterfront visit www.waterfronthotelandmarina.com or call 815-344-3131. Check out their “Plan Your Stay” page for links to an almost limitless number of activities.