pumpkinsBy Jann Wiswall

Taste of Ellicottville isn’t the area’s only food-oriented extravaganza. Just a few miles from the village lies an expansive farm with numerous outbuildings that magically turns itself into a fabulous six-week long homage to the pumpkin and everything else that ripens with the fall season.

Pumpkinville is a one-of-a-kind destination for the entire family. Indeed, it is the oldest pumpkin farm in New York and is the oldest continuously operated pumpkin farm in the United States.

While in festival-mode from mid-September through October, 25 acres are turned into a combination fairground/farm market/feasting venue for kids and grownups of all ages.

There are games, a cornfield maze, a corn cannon, a petting zoo, hayrides, “Pumpkin Jumpin’ Pillows,” crafts and gift shops, pick-your-own pumpkin fields, and even helicopter rides (new this year, weekends only). There’s also a vast array of pumpkins — from small to behemoth — to take home for cooking and carving, a huge selection of apples and squashes, plus Indian corn and gourds for seasonal decorating.

But the mouth-watering array of homemade eats may well be the biggest draw of them all.

Let’s start with the pumpkin creations — all made from fresh Pumpkinville-grown pumpkins. Sugar and cinnamon-sprinkled pumpkin doughnuts and pumpkin pies roll out of Di’s Pies & Bake Shoppe all day long, every day, and are the number one top sellers. Literally thousands are sold every year, and on weekends, you can expect to stand in fast-moving lines for these sumptuous treats. Homemade pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup and pumpkin fudge also are among the chef’s specialties.

And oh that fudge — owners Dan and Diane Pawlowski roll out every flavor you can imagine and then some. This year, they’ll introduce two new flavors — butterscotch and strawberry. While you’re at the fudge shop, be sure to try the Pawlowskis’ homemade peanut butters, the new almond butter and the delectable homemade caramel — which is available to take home or to try right there drizzled over freshly sliced apples and topped with whipped cream.

Fall apples, of course, are featured in a big way with all the most popular varieties to take home in bags or bushels. Pumpkinville makes its own freshly pressed cider in a 120-year-old antique cider mill, which you can tour to see how the process works from beginning to end. Pick up a few gallons or half gallons while you’re there, and don’t forget to add a freshly baked apple pie while you’re getting your pumpkin goodies at the bakery.

Pumpkinville also offers a great selection of main course treats that will keep your tummy content on the mildest or coolest fall day. Pick your favorites from a menu that includes hot dogs, chili, Italian sausages, BBQ pork and chicken, pumpkin soup, beef on weck, kettle corn, curly fries, homemade ice cream and more.

Pumpkinville opens for the season on Sept. 14 and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Oct. 31. Admission is free and there is ample parking.

FYI: Pumpkinville employs some 100 people during its season and will be taking applications beginning Sept. 3. If interested, please apply in person.

For more information, visit pumpkinville.com.