Faces of ghosts, ghouls and goblins flicker from jack-o-lanterns on Halloween night. Children across the country spend the weeks leading up to Halloween picking the ideal pumpkin and expertly carving jack-o-lanterns. Surprisingly, the holiday tradition didn’t originate in the United States, but in Ireland hundreds of years ago. The Irish carved jack-o-lanterns in turnips or potatoes until they arrived in America and discovered the pumpkin.
With Halloween fast approaching, now is the time to visit Illinois’ pumpkin patches and find the picture-perfect pumpkin. Many of the state’s pumpkin patches feature corn mazes and haunted houses so visitors can get in the Halloween spirit. Here’s a listing of pumpkin patches around the state, or you can visit EnjoyIllinois.com for more information.
Chicago & Beyond
The Didier Farms Pumpkinfest in Prairie View allows visitors to adventure on a tractor-drawn hayride through the farm’s pumpkin patch and pick a favorite pumpkin. After choosing the perfect gourd, Pumpkinfest goers can check out a five-acre corn maze, pony rides, petting zoo, crafts, antique tractor display and much more. Didier Farms also offers delectably distinct homemade pumpkin and apple cider donuts.
Land of Lincoln
The Great Pumpkin Patch boasts over 300 varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds from over 30 countries. In addition to picking pumpkins at the U-Pick Patch, visitors can explore six mazes, a restored one-room schoolhouse, Wanda’s Haunted Crib and gardens and natural retreats. The farm also features a delicious bakery, seed shop and gift store. The Great Pumpkin patch is located near Arthur, in the heart of Illinois’ Amish Country. While visiting the area, stop by the 150 Amish shops to pick up handcrafted keepsakes.
Great Rivers Country
Country Corner, a full-service agritourism farm market in Alpha, showcases giant pumpkins weighing over 500 pounds at the annual Giant Pumpkin Festival. The gigantic pumpkins are for sale, or visitors can pick their own in a 20-acre pumpkin patch. After pumpkin picking, guests can play in the Fall Fun Park, enjoy hayrack rides and explore the Kid’s Corn Maze. Country Corner is located only 20 minutes south of the Quad Cities and 20 minutes north of Galesburg.
Trails to Adventure
Bandy’s Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze offers fun for the entire family with a 10-acre corn maze, kids play barn, straw maze and pumpkin patch. The 2012 corn maze honors the Girl Scouts’ centennial celebration. Visitors can explore the corn maze and hop on a farm hayride. Bandy’s Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze is located in Johnston City, between Marion and West Frankfort.
–The Illinois Office of Tourism