You can find pumpkin-flavored anything these days, but nothing tops the real thing. Finding the perfect pumpkin for carving, cooking and decorating can be daunting if you don’t know where to start. We rounded up a list of local groves and pumpkin patches where you can hand-pick your pumpkin. Many pumpkin patches also offer family-friendly events.
26th annual Pumpkin Festival
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 18 and Oct. 19 and Oct. 25 and Oct. 26
Where: Fruitville Grove, 7410 Fruitville Road
Admission: Free for all ages
Every year a variety of pumpkins are grown and picked at Fruitville Grove for the annual pumpkin festival. Different kinds of pumpkins are available to purchase, ranging from mini to giant, pie pumpkins to Jack-o’-lanterns, and even white ghost pumpkins. Pick out your pumpkin and stay for the activities that include hayrides, pony rides and pumpkin painting every weekend in October. Craft and food vendors are on-site with fall essentials such as pumpkin pie and fall decorations.
3rd Annual Tom Wallin Memorial Reef Fund Benefit
When: Noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 19
Where: Walt’s Fish Market, 4144 S. Tamiami Trail
Prices: $10 to $25, depending on the size of the pumpkin
Walt’s Fish Market hosts the 3rd annual Tom Wallin Memorial Reef Fund Benefit to keep Wallin’s love of the ocean and preserving it alive. Every year the benefit helps to protect and expand the Tom Wallin artificial reef by collecting money to add reef balls that help create a more natural habitat for marine life. The benefit will include a seafood buffet for $20, raffles, games, an auction and a shrimp-eating contest. This year, in addition to the activities, will be a pumpkin patch for guests to explore and purchase a pumpkin.
6th annual Sarasota Pumpkin Festival
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Oct. 24; noon to 10 p.m. Oct. 25; and noon to 8 p.m. Oct. 26
Where: Payne Park, 2050 Adams Lane
Admission: $5 for children ages 4 to 12; $7 for students ages 12 to 18; and $7 in advance or $10 at the gate for adults
Along with a pumpkin patch, the Sarasota Pumpkin Festival offers more than 100 free shows including a 30-minute circus, concerts and additional live entertainment. Each day will have at least three pumpkin pie-eating contests and safe trick-or-treating.
When: 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily through Halloween
Where: Northwest corner of Stickney Point Road and Tamiami Trail; and 4641 Bee Ridge Road next to Evie’s Tavern on the Range
Prices: $.50 to $50, depending on the size of the pumpkin
Info: Contact John Carico, 685-7356
Funds collected from the patch will benefit a mission trip to the Czech Republic, a winter retreat, summer camp and other church events throughout the year. Every child who visits the pumpkin patch locations will receive a free mini pumpkin with stickers to decorate it.