ST. LIBORY — Sunday’s weather forecast suggested the possibility of finding frost on the pumpkin. So lots of families hit the pumpkin patches Saturday to take advantage of the gorgeous fall weather.
The highway north of Grand Island was filled with mini-vans and SUVs on Saturday morning. The vehicles barreled west onto Loup River Road and east onto Fifth Avenue, heading to Helgoth’s Pumpkin Patch and the Scarecrow Patch.
The two popular destinations, which are only 6 miles apart, were full of activity. If you wondered where all the grown-ups and kids were Saturday, they were in Howard County.
Accompanied by parents and grandparents, the kids flocked to numerous activities, including zip lines, corn mazes, slides, bouncing pads and barrel trains. In addition to healthy exercise, the activities got them in touch with nature.
The Scarecrow Patch
Amanda Cernik of Kearney said her boys, ages 5 and 6, were having “a blast” at the Scarecrow Patch. She and her fiance, Patrick O’Connor, were paying their first visits to the patch.
One happy kid at the Scarecrow Patch was heard to say, “I’m going to be here forever.”
It’s hard to beat heading out of town on a sunny fall Saturday, surrounded by amber waves of grain. Anyone who didn’t enjoy Saturday’s weather was out of his gourd.
Pumpkins were everywhere, which represented quite a change from last year.
Because of the 2019 flooding, Helgoth’s had to bring in pumpkins from other farms.
“This year, we’ve got 30 acres of big, beautiful pumpkins,” Shelly Helgoth said.
She and her husband, Chuck, have owned Helgoth’s Pumpkin Patch for 20 years.
People need pumpkins, Shelly said. “Pumpkins just make people happy.”
A visit to a pumpkin patch is also a good idea because it’s out in the open, she said. This year, folks have been cooped up and need to get out, she said.
Helgoth’s Pumpkin Patch
An obstacle course is new this year at Helgoth’s, which is a regular stop for Steve and Amanda Bristol. Zachary and David, their 7-year-old twins, were making their fourth visit to Helgoth’s.
The Bristols live just outside of Kearney.
“It’s our favorite pumpkin patch,” Amanda said, “because it doesn’t get too busy. There are lots of things to do. The food is delicious. The kettle corn is impeccable.”
David said he enjoys the corn maze “because it’s really challenging.”
Eric and Chelsea Nicholls of Hastings were making their first trip to Helgoth’s. Chelsea dressed their two kids, Martin, 8, and Faye, almost 2, in appropriate Halloween colors. She herself was wearing a pumpkin shirt and black pants. “When we go somewhere, we go all out,” she said.
Sheila and Gene Horak are also in their 20th season of operating the Scarecrow Patch.
New this year are a jump pad, a tube slide and a slide shed.
People should pay them a visit “because it’s been an awesome fall and we have lots to do,” Sheila Horak said.
Once customers pay the admission, she noted, the only things that cost money are food and pumpkins.
Pumpkins and parties
Nancy Shindle of St. Paul was one of the people enjoying the day. She was with her daughter, Sarah Roehl of Lincoln, and grandchildren Lennox, 4, and Rozalynn, 7. They thought it “would be a good day to get out and have some fun,” Shindle said.
A pumpkin patch is a great place to celebrate a birthday. The Scarecrow Patch entertained six birthday parties Saturday.
The two pumpkin patches have the same admission price: $8 per person. Those 2 and younger get in free.
At Helgoth’s, the hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. The Scarecrow Patch is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 7 p.m. Sundays and by appointment.