All Things Fall

By: Kelsey Johnson

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Picture courtesy of Patch’s Pumpkins

There’s something about the liminal stage of fall that just feels so right. Maybe it’s all the beautiful colors that pepper the skyline, or the lingering anticipation over finally getting to wear that totally awesome, muscle-enhanced Superman costume your mom bought you, or the pumpkin-flavored everything, or the ephemeral reflections prompted by natural transitions. Or maybe it’s just nice that we can go outside without melting or freezing – a rare feeling for Iowans. Lucky for us, there are inexhaustible activities available for Greater Des Moinians to occupy our brisk afternoons over the coming month.

Buy Fresh Buy Local has loads of members that offer special fall activities on their farms, a perfect excuse to get out of town and into fresh air for a few blissful weekend hours. Bryan Etchen, owner of Iowa Orchard, says that when it comes to apples and pumpkins, “This has been the largest crop on record,” he said. “Best year ever. Let’s put it that way.”

That means there’s no need to fight for your ideal pumpkin. Take your time, stroll down the fields, and let the right canvas come to you. You know, those perfectly smooth-faced beauties ideal for transferring your Breaking Bad finale design. Plus while you’re there be sure to take a hay rack ride to Iowa Orchard’s “Farm Fun Zone,” Including: a Haybale Slide, Corn Box, Tire Obstacle Course, Face Painting, Badminton, and Horseshoe Toss.

But Iowa Orchard isn’t the only farm with fun for the whole family. Notable attractions of the Harvest Barn Pumpkin Patch include a 6 acre corn maze, double zip line races, glo mini golf, and family dodgeball. Or, if you’re looking for more of a challenge, Geisler Farms has a 10 acre corn maze perhaps more apt for wondering. (Thinking the opposite? Patch’s Pumpkins & Honey Farm has a ½ acre kids maze great for tiring out your toddler before naptime.)

However, if you’re simply looking for a way to get in on fall fun and don’t have a family following in tow, we have some more low-key ways to embrace the season. If you’re the type that would rather take a relaxing afternoon stroll while perusing apples and pumpkins, Wills Family Orchard has no entrance fee, and is located just 20 minutes west of West Des Moines. You can rent a fire pit at Howell’s Pumpkin Patch and Patch’s Pumpkins for family and friends. Or, for those who like to indulge, Picket Fence Creamery is hosting Octoberfest Sample Sunday on October 20th (can anyone say pumpkin ice cream?) and Gramercy Tap has Rocktoberfest scheduled for Friday the 18th starting at 8pm.

Whatever you decide, don’t forget to enjoy the simple pleasures of the changing season before winter claims the last of the tolerable temperatures. Patty from Howell’s Pumpkin Patch in Cumming Iowa, reflected on her favorite parts of the season earlier this week, “People coming out and visiting the farm and having a good time, and the people are here because they’re happy,” she said. “When you drive in and see the acres of flowers, pumpkins, gourds, squash, the flags hung on the barn, it just looks like someone painted a picture.”