By Liesl Greathouse
MONTROSE–(October 15, 2013) Using pumpkins to carve jack-o’-lanterns originated from Britain and Ireland. The long tradition over there involved carving lanterns from a variety of vegetables, including turnips. When immigrants came to North America, they used the native pumpkin to carve. However, it was not until 1837 that ‘jack-o’-lantern’ was used as a term for a carved vegetable lantern, and it was in 1866 that the tradition became associated with Halloween.
Today it is a fun activity to do to celebrate the holiday, and people in Montrose can pick up their own pumpkins to carve, eat, or simply decorate their home for the fall season at the Covered Bridge Ranch Pumpkin Patch.
The pumpkin patch has been going on at the Covered Bridge Ranch for 11 years. In addition to picking out the perfect pumpkin, families can enjoy hay rides, a treasure hunt (a new activity this year), and farm animals, including a miniature donkey, spring lambs, Texas longhorn calves, and the Clydesdales that have been there since day one. People can then enjoy a campfire marshmallow roast with apple cider and kids can climb the giant haystack. In addition, the covered bridge is a great place for family photos.
Natalie Riessen, daughter of owners Gary and Judy Riessen, helps with the pumpkin patch. “It is relaxing, open and interactive,” She explained. “There are so many activities, but people can do them at their own pace. There is no schedule.”
Admission is $5 per person, with children two and under free. The charge covers all activities and refreshments.
People can find a variety of pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, and autumn wreaths made of foliage to enjoy. People can also pick from a selection of pre-made decorations or ask for a custom-made item. The vegetables and decorations are individually priced.
With four acres of pumpkins, there is a wide variety to choose from. Pumpkins are 50 cents a pound, with the average pumpkin being 12-20 pounds. “Although this year we did have a pumpkin that weighed 58 pounds, but that is unusual for us,” Natalie explained.
Comments from customers are generally positive, reflecting the care that Natalie and her family puts into the pumpkin patch. “People say that it is very well done, detailed, and intimate,” Natalie said. “It does not have a commercial feel about it. This is what a farm looks and feels like. We do not have a lot of signage and most of the ranch is open so people can roam freely and enjoy the activities. There is a real feeling of engaging with the land.”
Natalie enjoys being able to enjoy a fall day in a beautiful setting with the community. “I see a lot of people I know and I get to people happy and excited while having a nice time,” she explained. “I feel rewarded that people enjoy coming to spend their day with us and are able to experience things that they do not normally see.”
Natalie has a heart for the land and loves having people enjoy it as well. “Growing on the land is rewarding,” she said. “Kids today do not have much exposure to how things grow or animals. I believe that it is important to maintain the land and allow it to continue to be productive, farm-growing land. It is a lot of work, but it is an incredibly rewarding lifestyle and I want to be able to share it with the community.”
The Covered Bridge Ranch Pumpkin Patch is located at 17249 6250 (Dave Wood) Rd and is open Thursday and Friday, 3 p.m.-6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The patch will be open Sept. 28- Oct. 27. For more information call 970-240‑0106.