Memories are made in the country. So says Country Pumpkin, a pumpkin farm in Dry Ridge that has been delivering fall fun since 2000. After years of hosting families at their traditional pumpkin patch, the owners are spicing up the local pumpkin scene with a brand-new event: Country Fireside Nights.

The event takes all the fun of the Country Pumpkin day outing and moves it to the evening with a few added touches that work best under the stars. Visitors to the nighttime event can participate in multiple activities including a corn maze, lantern-lit hayrides, pumpkin chuckin’ and a bonfire. The event is open to the public each Friday and Saturday night from Sept. 29 to Oct. 28.

“We really wanted to have something that applied to a different audience and would be great for lots of occasions—date nights, youth outings or girls night out,” says Shelley Colson, who helps run Country Pumpkin with her husband, Matthew, and his parents, Dean and Debbie Colson. “It is after dark which is a different atmosphere. I think it will be really neat—a little spooky but not haunted. We don’t do the haunt or the scary stuff, but people were wanting something to do at night.”

Located off the beaten path, away from street lights and business traffic, the farm provides an ideal backdrop for a simple, fall outing. While the corn maze and hayride have already proven to be popular with visitors during their daytime pumpkin patch visits, Shelley thinks the cover of darkness will add a new layer of excitement and enchantment to the fun. And she is certain that visitors of all ages will enjoy watching their pumpkins fly through the air and splat onto the ground after being launched from the Colsons’ new Chuckin’ Pumpkin launcher. Each visitor can hurl up to five pumpkins through the night sky.

For those wishing to take a pumpkin home, the gourds will be available for picking—not just choosing. 

“You pick pumpkins here,” says Shelley who grew up in Cincinnati but has grown to love her country lifestyle. “That experience is unique in that you take a hayride, stop at a pumpkin patch and cut a pumpkin off the vine. It’s a real experience. It isn’t the cleanest way to do it. You have pumpkin vines and you have dirt, but it’s real and people love it,”

Allison Cochran Woodward of Independence visited Country Pumpkin last year with her husband and three young children who enjoyed the barrel train and seeing the baby cows. But it was the size of the pumpkin they found that really excited them. Still it takes more than a big pumpkin to impress a mom.

“What was special about Country Pumpkin is that it felt very family oriented, not just a fall ‘trap.’ It was extremely affordable, the owners and staff were extremely helpful—they even lent me their personal stroller when my infant refused to go in his strap-on carrier—t wasn’t overly crowded and was set up very visitor-friendly like,” says Woodward who plans to take her kids back again this year.

And while she is planning a daytime trip for them early in the season to beat the crowds, she is intrigued by the idea of a nighttime visit to the farm and thinks it would be a fun date night.

Today, Country Pumpkins has a wide fan base, but it has grown from humble beginnings. Founded in 2000 by the Colson and Pennington families, the simple pumpkin sales business initially used an honesty box by the road to secure payment of pumpkin purchasers. By 2009 it had grown into a more robust fall festival complete with hayrides, farm tours and plenty of photo-ops. The business moved in 2012 to its current location at Alpine Hills Dairy Farm and has grown every year since.

“We’re on a 250-acre dairy farm up a gravel lane. You’re out in the dark, under the stars; you’re in the country and it is a very cool feeling,” she says. “There are a lot of pumpkins patches, but we hear that people love that we are a real farm and we are not on a main road. I think people like the authenticity of it. It is country, and this is going to be something great to fill the void for our customers. It is a magical atmosphere with minimal lighting and the bonfire. I picture it being a cozy and unique experience.”

The evening event will be open from 7 to 10 p.m. weather permitting. Admission is $15 per person and parking is free. Concessions, including s’mores kits, are available to purchase but visitors are invited to bring their own snacks. Alcohol is not permitted. Country Pumpkin is located at 1835 Sherman Mt. Zion Road in Dry Ridge.

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