Mid-September signals the beginning of fall and pumpkin season. Whether it’s used to flavor your coffee, fill your pie or carved and placed on a doorstep, there’s no denying the pumpkin is the star of the season.
In 2020, Illinois grew 564 million pounds of pumpkins, enough to lead the nation in pumpkin production and equal the poundage of the four other top-five producing states, according to the U.S.Department of Agriculture. Pumpkins are big business in Illinois, even for families.
Brittany Richey’s grandparents opened Honey Hill Orchard in rural DeKalb County in 1977. She grew up around the farm but worked in health care. However, after her father passed away in 2016, she came back to help her mother run the family business.
Now, she’s a part owner, and she and her husband of eight years, Shane Richey, work on the farm most months of the year.
“Especially after my dad’s passing, carrying on his legacy is very important to me,” Brittany said. “Because without him, this wouldn’t have been possible. He was kind of, he was the face of Honey Hill.”
During the weekends of Brittany’s childhood, her parents would be busy working so they’d turn her loose to roam the 40-acre facility north of Waterman, she said.
Brittany would hop on the tractors to nab a ride as the orchard’s tractor drivers worked, and she talked to the visiting families and made friends with their kids.
Now that she’s back to living on the farm, she’s looking forward to her kids also having that same experience.
“Because I know how special it was for me to have my upbringing here,” Brittany said.
She’s the third generation of her family to work on the farm but the fourth – who are 5 and 3 – is already is looking for opportunities to lend a hand.
“They sit here and tell us they can’t wait to work here and work the orchard someday,” Brittany said.
Honey Hill farm is known for its apple cider – another fall staple – but its 5-acre you-pick pumpkin patch will open in late September.
Further north in McHenry County, the Von Bergen family started a you-pick pumpkin patch near Hebron when Mike Von Bergen was 9 years old.
“He wanted to grow pumpkins, so creating a you-pick patch was the next logical step for them at the time,” said his wife Tracie Von Bergen.
“He is 52 now,” she laughed.
A third generation of Von Bergens is now part of Von Bergen’s Country Market at 9805 Route 173, Hebron.
They have offered farm-grown fruits, vegetables and flowers since 1979, Tracie said. Over the years, they have expanded into summer and fall events that are open to the public.
One of the highlights of their fall market is a sunflower maze. Like a more traditional corn maze, there are spots inside the field set up to take photos, she said.
Because they are sunflowers, too, the field changes every hour as the flowers follow the sun across the sky.
“People are not really trying to get out,” she said of the sunflower field. “They just want to spend time here.”
While Von Bergens’ fall kickoff is set for Sept. 24, some other area farms, including Goebbert’s Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard in Pingree Grove, Stade’s Farm and Market in McHenry and Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove, have started their fall seasons.
Here are some you might like to visit throughout northern Illinois.
All Seasons Orchard, 14510 IL Route 176, Woodstock – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 30. Offers an apple orchard, pumpkin patch and corn maze along with a petting zoo, giant swings, jumping pillow, mini zip line, pedal karts and tire mountain. Call 815-338-5637 or visit allseasonsorchard.com.
Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm and Fall Fest, 13341 W. 151st St., Homer Glen – 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. weekends and Columbus Day, through Oct. 31. More than a dozen rides and other attractions including tractor-pulled hayrides, pony rides, train ride, pig races, petting zoo, haunted barn, fun barn and “Little House on the Scary.” Call 708-301-3276 or visit pumpkinfarm.com.
Bronkberry Farms, 18061 S. Bronk Road, Plainfield – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Hayride being pulled by 1940s tractor, pumpkin patch and pre-picked apples, caramel apples, gourds, straw bales, corn stalks, mums, fall planters and Halloween decorations for sale. Call 815-436-6967 or visit bronkberryfarms.com.
Cody’s Farm and Orchard, 19502 River Road, Marengo – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Apple and pumpkin picking available on weekends, apples in September and October and pumpkins in October. Also available are hayrides, play area, 5-acre corn maze, rubber duck races and pedal tractors. Call 815-568-7976 or visit codysfarm.com.
Dave’s Pumpkins, 9112 Algonquin Road, Huntley – 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Pumpkins available plus pumpkin bowling, mini-broom corn maze, hay rides and pedal tractors. Cider donuts and spooky hay rides on weekends starting Sept. 17. Call 847-893-0002 or visit davespumpkins.com.
Dollinger Family Farm, 7420 E. Hansel Road, Channahon – 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. through Oct. 30. Pumpkin farm, corn maze, corn bin, bee farm, farm animals and play areas (huge hay piles, pirate ship, “conquer the castle,” sandbox, Hobbit Hole, tunnel). On weekends: train rides, hayrides, face painting, Native American exhibits. Call 815-467-4698 or visit dollingerfarms.com.
Edwards Apple Orchard, 7061 Centerville Road, Poplar Grove – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with apple-picking ending a half hour early. In addition to apple and pumpkin picking, bakery, farm market, farm museum and children’s play area are open. Call 815-765-2234 or visit edwardsorchard.farm.
Goebbert’s Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard, 42W813 Reinking Road, Pingree Grove – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Oct. 31. In addition to the pumpkins and apples, Goebbert’s offers a haunted house, straw maze, train ride, corn box, jumping pillow, pedal karts, carousel, petting zoo and pony rides. Call 847-464-5952 or visit goebbertspumpkinpatch.com.
Heaps Giant Pumpkin Farm, 4853 U.S. Highway 52, Minooka – 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., through Oct. 31. Animals, corn maze, soybean maze, Milo’s Castle and Pirate Ship Playground, Heaps O’ Fun Straw Barn, hayride (weekends only) and U-Pick Pumpkin Patch (weekends only, pumpkins purchased separately). General store, concession stand, special events. Call 815-651-7288 or visit heapsgiantpumpkinfarm.com.
Honey Hill Orchard, 11783 Waterman Road, Waterman – 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily through Halloween. Free admission; u-pick apple bag required to enter the apple orchard area, which costs $9 for a 1/4 peck bag and $30 for 1 peck bag. Cash only accepted for u-pick. In addition to an apple orchard, pumpkin patch, raspberries and sunflowers, Honey Hill Orchard offers a bakery and store, weekend hay rides, children’s play area with a straw maze and a petting zoo. Call 815-264-3337 or visit honeyhillorchard.com.
Johansen Farms, 710 W. Boughton Road, Bolingbrook – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends, through Oct. 31. Petting zoo, baby chicks to hold, pony rides (October weekends only), hayrides, train rides, air-slides, toddler area, corn maze, pumpkin patch, apple cider doughnuts, open market area. Call 630-759-8711 or visit johansenfarms.com.
Johnson’s Pumpkin Stand and Corn Maze, 1502 W. Motel Road, Sycamore – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The pumpkin stand also features a corn maze that is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Flashlights are welcome in the corn maze, and a large campfire is provided after dark. Cost for 1-acre maze is $4 per person, 6-acre corn maze is $7 per person, children age 3 and younger free; children younger than 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Cash or check accepted for payment only. Call 815-895-3752 or visit johnsonspumpkinstand.com.
Jonamac Orchard, 19412 Shabbona Road, Malta – 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily through Nov. 24; in November, the store and bakery is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and closes at 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. Features an apple orchard, pumpkin patch, a bakery and store, barnyard play area, jumping pillow, animal barn petting zoo, daytime corn maze, haunted corn maze, wagon rides, pumpkin house, cider house tasting room, corn crib play barn, sunflower patch and bandshell. Cost is $6 per person general admission to enter activity areas, age 2 and younger free on weekends; after school special rate $3.75 per person from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and noon to 5:30 p.m. Fridays through Oct. 29. Call 815-825-2158 or visit jonamacorchard.com.
Konow’s Corn Maze, 6849 S. Cedar Road, Homer Glen – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays, closed Tuesdays, 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays. Two levels of corn mazes, animal barn, jumping pillow, train rides, hayrides, straw playground, pony rides, duck races, special events. Call 708-301-8845 or visit konowscornmaze.com.
Kuipers Family Farm Pumpkin Farm, 1N318 Watson Road, Maple Park – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. The pumpkin farm features a corn maze, jumping pillow, pig races, haunted forest, tractor trains, pick-your-own pumpkin patch and more. For admission prices or information, visit kuipersfamilyfarm.com or call 815-827-5200.
Livengood’s Pumpkin Patch, 31198 IL Route 40, Chadwick. Urban farm, quality pumpkins grown locally. Call 815-499-8810 for information.
Poci’s Market & Greenhouse, 9571 Hoover Road, Rock Falls – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Family owned and operated for 40 years. Offers pumpkins and acorn, butternut, spaghetti and turban squash, as well as fall veggies and decorations. Call 815-626-9630.
Richardson Adventure Farm, 909 English Prairie Road, Spring Grove – 3 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 9 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 30. Pick your own pumpkins plus a corn maze with 9 to 10 miles of trail across 28 acres, wagon and train rides, carousel, slide, zip line, petting zoo, jumping pillow and pedal karts. Maze ‘til Midnight offered Sept. 10 and Oct. 7 and 8. Call 815-675-9729 or visit richardsonadventurefarm.com.
Royal Oak Farm, 15908 Hebron Road, Harvard – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday, through Oct. 31. Pumpkin and apple picking with playground, petting zoo and on weekends, a carousel and train ride. Call 815-648-4141 or visit royaloak.farm.
Selmi’s Greenhouse, 1206 Dixon Avenue, Rock Falls – 2 to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday (excluding Columbus Day), 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday and Columbus Day, through Oct. 31. General admission ($3-$5) includes petting zoo, kids’ haunted house, jumping pillow, hay-rack ride, corn maze. Call 815-626-3830 or visit selmi.com.
Siegels Cottonwood Farm, 17250 Weber Road, Lockport – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Halloween. Pumpkins you can pick off the vine, hay-rack ride, farm animals, one-room schoolhouse, mountain slide (weekends and Columbus Day only), nanny goat roadhouse, “wall ball of fun,” straw mountain, games and other activities, food and drink to buy. Call 815-741-2693 or visit ourpumpkinfarm.com.
Stade’s Farm and Market, 3709 Miller Road, McHenry – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Pick-your-own hours end at 5 p.m., and apples, raspberries, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, beets, kohlrabi, and flowers are available to pick depending on the season. The Shades of Autumn Festival runs through Oct. 30 and includes hayrides, a petting zoo, mazes, inflatables, train rides and pumpkin cannon demonstrations. Call 815-675-6396 or visit stadesfarmandmarket.com.
Sugar Grove Pumpkin Farm, 4S041 Merrill Road, Sugar Grove – noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The farm opens Sept. 16 and is closed on Columbus Day and closes for the season Oct. 31. Activities for kids age 10 and younger include a corn maze, bags, straw mound, toddler play houses, witch hat ring toss and more. Moonlight Maze: Oct. 7 and Oct. 14 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Bring your own flash light. Ages 4 and older: $2 a person, free for ages 3 and younger. A variety of pumpkins and gourds are available to buy. Visit sugargrovepumpkinfarm.com.
The Enchanted Valley Farm, 31853 Glidden Road, Kingston – 9 a.m. to 6 pm. daily through Halloween. Free admission. The Enchanted Valley Farm is a small family pumpkin farm that also sells homemade soy candles and wax melts. Call 815-757-3701 or visit theenchantedvalleyfarm.com.
Theis Farm Market, 6N953 County Line Road, Maple Park – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Free admission. In addition to pumpkins and gourds, Theis Farm Market sells bedding and garden plants, including chrysanthemums, straw, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables and fall décor. Call 815-761-8374 or visit www.theisfarmmarket.com.
Tom’s Farm Market, 10214 Algonquin Road, Huntley – 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 30, including Columbus Day, Oct. 10. The pumpkin fields typically close half an hour before the rest of the farm. Other activities include a straw maze, a 6-acre corn maze, petting zoo, pedal tractors, tire mound, jumping pillow and duck races. Call 847-669-3421 or visit tomsfarmmarket.com.
Von Bergen’s Country Market, 9805 IL Route 173, Hebron – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, with you-pick starting at 10 a.m. Corn mazes, a play area, barnyard animals are available in addition to pumpkins, sweet corn and other homegrown vegetables, fruit and flowers. Fall season starts Sept. 24. Call 815-648-2332 or visit vonbergens.com.
Wessels’ Family Farm, 2023 Sycamore Road, DeKalb – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The pumpkin stand also sells chrysanthemums and fresh produce. Call 815-751-1780 or visit www.facebook.com/wesselsfamilyfarm/.
Wiltse’s Farm Produce, 50W379 Route 38, Maple Park – 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 to 5 p.m. Saturdays, 9 to 4 p.m. Sundays. Free admission. Wiltse’s Farm Produce’s u-pick pumpkin patch offers pumpkins, straw, Indian corn, gourds, chrysanthemum, corn stalks and a wagon ride. Fresh produce, including handpicked sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers and more, is available for purchase. Call 815-739-6179 or visit www.wiltsefarm.com.
Windy Acres Farm Fall Fest, 37W446 Fabyan Parkway, Geneva – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily from Sept. 17 through Oct. 31. Guests can enjoy a corn maze, petting zoo, mini-golf, jumping pillow, zip line and more. The grills are fired up on weekends for a variety of foods, and other goodies are on sale throughout the week. Adults older than 21 can visit the beer garden and listen to a live DJ on weekends (start times vary). Call 630-232-6429 or visit windyacresfarmstand.com.
Yaeger’s Farm Market, 14643 Route 38, DeKalb – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays through Halloween. Free-will donation. During Yaeger’s Fall Festival through Oct. 31, there will be free hayrides to the hidden pumpkin patch 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sundays and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Columbus Day, weather permitting. The playland includes a 5-acre corn maze, wooden castle, train and ship. There also is a corn maze for senior citizens. Call 815-756-6005 or visit www.yaegersfarmmarket.com.
Source: The Daily Chronicle