NEAR LE MARS, Ia — "This is the haunted house, still under construction to try and undo what the raccoons thought they needed to do this summer," said Kathy Wagner with a laugh, while walking through Harvest Hollow Pumpkin Farm near Le Mars.
She was working in late September to get the pumpkin farm ready to open in less than a week.
"We have the tire mountain, the haunted cemetery, castle play area," said Wagner, pointing out amenities at the farm. "We have our basketball, football and baseball throw."
The farm traditionally opens for the season during the last weekend in September.
"Just a general fun family day, that's what we try to provide," said Wagner.
Kathy is owner, operator and all around "Jack-of-all-Trades" at the farm.
She has been for the past 15 years, since it opened.
"We started with a picnic table, a few animals, planting the pumpkins and a bucket that I took money in," said Wagner.
There are two acres of pumpkins growing now and the recent wet weather means they're huge this year.
"I have to say, I've got some of the biggest pumpkins that I think I've ever had this year," said Wagner.
The kids love to pick-their-own in the patch, take a look at the haunted cemetery and just play.
"That's the point, that's the point," said Wagner. "Play, get dirty, have a good time, spend time with your family and play with mom and dad, because they just don't get that anymore, there's just not that time."
It's a lot of work transforming this hog and crop farm into a feast of fall fun this time of year, but Wagner says little smiles always make it worth it.
"I always say I'm not going to do it again. I always end up doing it again," said Wagner. "Because when the music plays and the people come, it's about the kids, it's about the pumpkins and it's about having a good time."
Kathy Wagner had a few tips for picking the perfect pumpkin.
She says you always want to make sure your pumpkin doesn't have any holes.
It needs a nice strong stem.
Make sure to not pick one with any green on it, because it won't last very long.
And you should make sure to clean it up with a little bleach water after you bring it home, because it'll last longer that way.
If you want to find out more about Harvest Hollow Pumpkin Farm, please visit: facebook.com/Harvest-Hollow-Pumpkin-Farm.
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