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With fall in the air, pumpkin patches from Boring to the Gorge are ready for fun

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Shelley Burns at Burns Farm has hosted a pumpkin pick for five years, complete with tractor rides and visits with the farm character, Chester the donkey. While pumpkin spice lattes are all well and good, those here in Clackamas and East Multnomah County tend to prefer the real thing — pumpkins — and pumpkin patches abound.

From Boring to Corbett, there is likely a pumpkin patch and/or fall festival tailored to fit your family's weekend desires.

From one of the longest-standing farm families in the area, the Liepold's Fall Festival is well known for its variety of seasonal activities for children and those young at heart. At 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, Marcia and Rod Liepold opened the 18th year of their autumnal activities at the farm, 14480 S.E. Richey Road, Boring.

Orchestrating the festival every year is a family affair for the Liepolds. It seems that as soon as the last berry is sold from their farm stand, Marcia, Rod and the whole crew are hard at work painting sets for the corn maze and preparing pumpkins for picking.

This year, the corn maze is themed "The United States," and the Liepolds challenge those who attend to find all 50, which are somehow represented in the maze.

The festival has all the usual attractions still: the apple-pult, hayrides, the pumpkin patch, and barbecue for purchase on the weekend. And there are several sensory activities for the youngest of festival-goers, including a kiddie hay maze, a corn play bin and much more.

"I think my favorite part is watching the kids get their pumpkins," Marcia Liepold said. "They get so excited. And I love seeing families come together and enjoy the farm."

Marcia and Rod are now the first of three generations of Liepolds to work the festival. And a fourth, their great-granddaughter, is even around to "supervise."

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Liepold Farms has pumpkins for sale at 40 cents per pound. "My whole family is involved in this festival," Marcia Liepold noted. "So it really is a family affair."

The Liepolds are selling their pumpkins for 40 cents per pound this year, and the festival will run through October.

Those planning to attend in groups of 10 people or more can receive a discount if they buy tickets more than 24 hours in advance, and the farm can also be reserved for private events by calling 971-678-4066.

Old McDonald has a farm

In Corbett, pumpkins come with a side of educational opportunities. Old McDonald's Farm Inc. is a 68-acre nonprofit farm at 1001 S.E. Evans Road, Corbett. For 20 years, founder and Executive Director Stephanie Rickert has used the farm to teach children from all over about "biology; zoology; animal and agricultural husbandry; care and nurturing; life-cycles and interconnectedness of all living things; commercial uses of animals and plants; recycling and composting are all taught in a safe and structured way."

Every fall, Rickert expands those lessons with fun seasonal activities by hosting a pumpkin pick.

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, and Sunday, Oct. 7, Rickert and her farm animals will host a fundraising day where families are invited to the farm to see the animals and pick out some pumpkins.

Rickert houses 34 animals on her farm — from goats to pigs to miniature horses.

"If they're going to buy pumpkins, they might as well help fund our educational program," Rickert noted. "And it's lovely being out here. It's very peaceful."

Some of the gourds are even grown by a student of the farm who has been visiting Old McDonald's for 20 years.

The pumpkin pick weekend also will include hayrides, horse rides and line dancing. A local man, Don Edwards, has offered a plane ride over the Columbia River Gorge as a raffle prize. Hot dogs and marshmallows also will be available to cook over an open fire.

"I love making kids smile," Rickert said. "Kids love coming out and seeing the animals."

A berry good time

The Burns family in Troutdale may not have the assortment of livestock available at Old McDonald's Farm, Inc., but they do have Chester the donkey, which has headed the welcoming committee at Burns Farm at Aldersyde, 2126 SE 302nd Ave., Troutdale, for several years.

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Stephanie Rickert will host a Pumpkin Pick at Old McDonald's Farm, Inc. from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 6-7. The Burns family's farming lineage goes back to the 1800s, but Shelley Burns has only hosted her pumpkin pick for five years. The rest of the year the family grows and sells marionberries, raspberries and strawberries.

As a lifelong fan of fall, Burns said the idea to grow and sell pumpkins was a no-brainer, and she tries to keep her festivities minimal.

"It's simple," Burns noted. "Come get your pumpkin and give Chester a carrot."

Pumpkins from Burns Farm are 35 cents per pound, and besides petting Chester and picking pumpkins, families are welcome to take a tractor ride around the farm or play in the corn maze for a small fee.

"I just like the people," Burns said. "And I love the fall."

The farm is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

At the front of the farm is a small store where you can peruse and purchase local honey, fruits, vegetables and other goods.

Harvest tradition

For even more family fun, the Bushues are preparing to open their fall festivities at the Bushue's Family Farm, 9880 S.E. Revenue Road, Boring, at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29. Helen Bushue has welcomed families to her farm since 2000, when her fall festival was just a canopy, some straw bales, pumpkins and a hay ride.

"We've come a long way," Bushue said.

Now the family offers two different pumpkin-picking experiences — from the vine or pre-picked — pumpkin doughnuts and apple cider for purchase, u-cut flowers, u-pick vegetables, hayrides and several kid-friendly activities in Lil' Punkin's Playground, the Hayslide Adventure Park or the pumpkin bowling alley.

"I like seeing families spending time together," Lara Bushue noted. "There's not the same distractions when they're out here. And I love seeing the wonderment on kids' faces."

With 18 years of fall fun under their belts, the Bushues have seen multiple generations enjoy the pumpkins and plethora of activities.

"It's cool," Lara Bushue said. "People I went to school with are now bringing their kids out here."

Pumpkins from Bushue's are 40 cents per pound, and the farm is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all days except Monday.

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