Owner of Papa’s Pumpkin Patch Dave Pearce says the choice to stay closed this fall wasn’t easy.
“It’s my lifeblood,” Pearce said. “We have forfeited a year’s worth of expenses, but we’ve also forfeited a year’s worth of income.”
But it’s been months in the making.
“A deal like this actually starts with buying the seed for the pumpkin,” Pearce said. “We have 10 different varieties of pumpkins and squash, and so buying the seed or finding out what you want really starts back in January.”
Coronavirus concerns have kept the nationally ranked pumpkin patch closed this fall.
“At least 50 percent, if not more, of our volunteer workforce are retired teachers, retired folks,” Pearce said. “They are the most vulnerable as we know in this pandemic thing.”
Because of the more vulnerable workforce, along with the difficulty of ensuring everyone’s safety, Pearce says the risk outweighs the reward.
While Papa’s Pumpkin Patch won’t be reopening this fall, Grandpa Al’s Hayrides nearby hopes to offer a similar fall experience for families.
Chase Dauenhauer owns Grandpa Al’s Hayrides, which can be seen from Papa’s.
“It’s going to be smaller, but the magic is going to consist of the pictures, the play places and the pumpkins,” Dauenhauer said.
The hayrides will likely be more spread out, and Dauenhauer says he plans to take other measures to encourage social distancing.
“We’re obviously going to follow the guidelines that are out there right now. If masks becomes one of them, we will work to comply to those guidelines and then also post those guidelines in areas,” Dauenhauer said. “But ultimately the goal is to space it out enough to where there can be social distancing.”
Dauenhauer says he’s excited by the opportunity — and it may not be the last time the two family-owned businesses work together.
“We’d like to thank Papa’s for the wisdom and guidance he’s shared with us so far and to his vision of a potential 80-acre experience,” Dauenhauer said.
Pearce said the traditions at Papa’s will live on, just across the fence.
Grandpa Al’s Hayrides will be open noon to 7 p.m. weekends starting September 19, and during the week, by reservation only.