Local Pumpkin Patches Offer Community Fall Fun
Family-owned farms in Channahon and Minooka open their farms to the public.
Fall is in the air. And, to celebrate the season and create memories, Dollinger Family Farm in Channahon and Heap’s Giant Pumpkin Farm in Minooka are offering free admission to their pumpkin farms through the end of October.
Both farms have pumpkins in a variety of sizes, shapes, weights and colors. Prices vary depending on size or weight.
At Dollinger’s, the pumpkins are spread out in multiple areas for customers to choose. There are 30 acres of more than 90 varieties of pumpkins with some pumpkins weighing in around 150 pounds at Heap’s. And each farm offers more than just pumpkins. Both are returning this year with unique corn mazes.
The corn is over 8 feet tall and still green at Heap’s. As you pass through the winding route, the corn silk rubs against your skin. On weekend evenings and evenings of October 27 through October 30, the corn maze becomes haunted. Monsters hide in dead-ends and jump out to scare visitors.
In addition to finding your way through the golden, crisp corn maze at Dollinger’s, one must find five different colored posts. At these posts, a marker is provided for mazers to mark their fingers. After finding all the colors, a chart allows individuals to match up their hands. A number coordinates with a silly thing for the person to act out. Examples include walking like a penguin and flying an imaginary kite.
The bean maze at Heap’s doesn’t go past foot-level and it is not as complicated to complete. It is geared toward younger children, but those who don’t like corn mazes, can find fun in this, said employee Kaylee Shell.
Both corn mazes are $3 per person. The bean maze is $2 per person.
Horse-drawn hayrides at Dollinger’s are available on the weekends for a cost of $6 per person. The ride takes individuals throughout the farm to see the changing of colors and to hear ghost stories of legends who once lived in the area.
For $2 per person, customers can enjoy a tractor-pulled hay ride out to the pumpkin patch and hand pick their own pumpkins at Heap’s. A moonlight hay ride is also offered at Heap’s as well.
Farm animals can be seen on both farms. Dollinger’s features a petting area for the goats, while Berlin the pig is chased by children on a big dirt hill at Heap’s. Kids can also get their face painted on the weekends at Dollinger’s.
Playhouses with slides and hay stacks for jumping release the extra energy kids have when at Dollinger’s. Children play corn boxes filled with corn kernels at Heap’s.
Food is sold at both farms on the weekends only. Local vendors are at Dollinger’s, while Papa Heap’s Grill serves up burgers and pork sandwiches. Both locations have a gift shop featuring fall items.
On Sundays at Dollinger’s, a Native American exhibit is displayed for viewing. Last weekend Heaps’s featured Sherri Farley playing the hammered dulcimer to various yodeling and cowboy songs. Shell said more musical entertainment is in the works for next season.
Dollinger’s also has the Abyss Haunted House located on its premises.
Dollinger’s has been in the family since 1852. This farm used to be the entire town of Dresden, platted in 1836.
“This little part of the world is full of history and intrigue. A visit to our farm is a lovely journey into the past,” says Noreen Dollinger on her website.
According to their website, the Dollinger Family began raising pumpkins in 1989. Since than, John and Noreen Dollinger have shared their home to the public during the months of September and October.
The purpose of the pumpkin farm is to instill the Dollinger’s five children to work together, watch things grow and learn how to manage a business.
In 1866, Abel Heap established a family homestead on the corner of US 52 and Grove Rd. which is known today as Heap’s Giant Pumpkin Farm. Gary and Linda Heap are the current family members who run the farm, along with their children Kevin and Stacy. Pumpkin sales began in 2001.
“Gary plants the pumpkin seeds and runs the weekend grill. Linda runs the craft store and Stacy helps out. Kevin focuses on the pumpkins and mums,” said Shell.