By Rick Miller
It’s almost Pumpkinville time!
It’s that time of year when all roads lead to the road that leads to Pumpkinville, nestled at the northern end of Sugartown Road off Route 98, Great Valley.
Pumpkinville is New York state’s oldest continually working pumpkin farm — 51 years and counting. It will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. when it opens this Saturday.
“It may not be the biggest, but we think it is the best,” said owner Dan Pawlowski, who runs it with his wife, Diane.
She oversees the bakery and assures everyone there will again be plenty of pumpkin doughnuts again this year. Follow your nose to the kitchen where you’ll find other bakery items including breads, cookies and pumpkin pies.
The Pawlowskis continue to expand Pumpkinville, adding new attractions each year. New this year is the Happy Horse Carousel, right next to the Fun Zone.
“We looked coast to coast for a carousel for several years,” Dan said on a tour of Pumpkinville last week. “It’s portable. We set it up and it’s been inspected for use. Next year we hope to have it under permanent cover.”
The carousel has an agricultural history. It came from a Midwest self-pick orchard. There are panels on the center of the carousel, one of which ironically is a painting of pumpkins.
“We’ve always wanted a carousel at Pumpkinville,” Diane said. Pumpkinville draws an estimated 100,000 visitors from mid-September to the end of October.
“We think this will be a good fit for us,” Dan added.
A new agricultural attraction will also debut when Pumpkinville opens. Birds and Bees will feature a large beehive with glass walls so visitors can see the bees activity inside. On the other side of the building, visitors — especially kids — can view a hatching area for baby chicks.
“We’re a working pumpkin farm, so it’s really important that we educate our visitors, especially kids, about the importance of agriculture,” Dan said.
This year’s corn maze is sponsored by Ellicottville Brewing Company, a partner with Pumpkinville in the seasonal brew, Pumpkinville Latte. On four weekends in October, Ellicottville Brewing will present beer tasting at Pumpkinville, including Pumpkinville Latte.
“We’re really proud to be in partnership with Ellicottville Brewing Company,” Dan said.
Pumpkinville is again this year teaming up with Olean’s Pink Pumpkin Project. The first nine days of the season including the first two weekends have been dubbed Sunflower Daze, Dan said.
Visitors can ride a hay wagon to the big sunflower field where they can pick their own for 6 for $5. Proceeds go to the Pink Pumpkin Project to aid cancer patients.
The Pawlowskis run the 200-acre Pumpkinville farm with help from their son Jim and daughter Lisa and about 100 employees during the seven-week season.
“Last year was a tough year,” Dan said. Frequent heavy rains kept many visitors away on weekends when just shy of 10,000 people can show up. The Pawlowskis brought in so much stone for the parking lot and walkways your feet would barely get wet.
With a wet spring this year, the Pawlowskis were worried about getting their pumpkin and sunflower crops planted in time for the Pumpkinville harvest. The crops were only a little behind and some good sunny weather this summer made up for the late start.
Workers started picking the pumpkins on Friday, Sept. 6 and moving them to the staging area where children will look for that special pumpkin. There are probably more than 10,000 pumpkins growing on the farm. There’s a you-pick pumpkin area, too.
With the new attractions, the Pawlowskis hope to spread people out more and keep the lines to a minimum. You can also order and pay online for wristbands for Pumpkinville attractions at www.pumpkinville.com.
If you didn’t visit Pumpkinville last year, the two things that will get your attention are the new indoor bathrooms and that the area now has cellular service.
Not only did the cell service help parents post their children’s Pumpkinville photos on Facebook faster, it made credit card transactions for purchases much faster. Instead of a few phone lines for credit cards, more than a dozen employees have iPads connected to the internet.
Pumpkinville is also home to Cattaraugus County’s only apple cider mill this year after it was reported Cummins Cider Mill in Portville will not open this fall. Even the apples are a little late in coming this year, Dan said. They’ll be pressing cider by opening day, Sept. 14. It’s made in a restored 1870s cider mill.
Helicopter rides are available on weekends for a 360-degree view of Pumpkinville and the surrounding fall foliage.
You’ll find your favorite attractions including the six-acre corn maze, apple blaster, Pumpkinville Express Train, the Fun Zone with its 60-foot slides, Barnyard Ballzone, Pumpkin Jumping Pillows, Cow Train, hayrides and more.